How we treat people
Bob Dunn

Focussing on the system in relationships seems hard, especially since “the system” is hard to differentiate from the relationship with the other person.

In a marriage, what would the system be? Marriage itself? Preconceived notions of roles in a marriage? If my spouse and I are unhappy with each other, how might I identify what’s wrong with the system of our marriage?

Writing that here, I think it proves your point. For a marriage to survive, you can’t focus on what you or the other person is or isn’t doing, you have to focus on what each of you needs, what the current “system” is, and where it is failing to provide those needs — and then analyze what has to change in the system to meet those needs.

In thinking of the marriage improvement literature that I’ve gone through that has seemed valuable, it seems that the primary “system” to focus on in a marriage is almost always communication. Once communication can be honest, respectful, and mindful of the (perceived) perspective of the other person, then the next parts of the system (support, feeling loved, safety, etc) can be addressed.

I wonder if communication would be the first system to address in parenting and management as well?

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