David’s Tuesday Tips (#1)*

Here’s your paradoxical tip of the day!

The attempt to solve a relationship / marital problem is the cause of nearly all relationship problems. The refusal to solve the problem is nearly always the solution.

Let me know if you like this feature. This is just an experiment! I could “explain” each tip, but i thought it might be more fun for you if I keep them short and a bit mysterious.

Use the Reply / Comment feature below to let us to know how you understand today’s tip.

Thanks!

David

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD.

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37 thoughts on “David’s Tuesday Tips (#1)*

  1. Hi David. This one had me stumped initially, but I think you trying to say that we saying that the problem is not the problem, the problem is actually what we are doing or saying to our partner?

    • Hi Kevin, this is the best guess so far. You are really close! Thanks!

      I will post the “answer” later, maybe tomorrow, giving more folks the chance to scratch their heads and try to figure out the “riddle” means! david

    • Nope! Quite the opposite, Ezgi! I will reveal the answer to the riddle / paradox later, maybe tomorrow. I absolutely appreciate your interest and comment! In the meantime, we can see what others have to say! david

  2. I like this format. A concise statement helps me understand the principle behind some the discussion I have been following in the podcasts.

  3. I am scratching my head here! So, let’s say I have a problem with my wife and I don’t discuss it/want to solve it, how in the world will that solve it? I love this stuff I’m just not very good at figuring it out!

    • Thanks, Philomablog. I’ll post the answer before long, and greatly appreciate your comment! Hopefully, the meaning will suddenly jump to life once I give everyone the solution to this “riddle!” david (aka davidomablog)

      • Davidomablog! Ha! Here’s another crack at this since Kevin’s answer is close. Perhaps WE create the problem and then blame our other half for it??

      • What you say is absolutely true! Good point! I’ll spill it all in the morning, but your current post has tremendous value, in my opinion! david

  4. Dr. Burns,
    Thank you. Thought provoking, intriguing and also triggering for me. Wish I knew this before I invested a fortune of time and money in CBIT. Ha!
    JH

    • Thanks, John, I’ll post the “answer” after I get some more replies. Appreciate your interest and comments! david

      • .OK, thanks, here is my attempt at answering the riddle…the “problem” is the outcome of our inputs (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, actions)….so focus on our role in the dynamic and the “problem” will potentially resolve.

      • More good thoughts, John Henry, thanks! Will post the “answer” tomorrow. You are close! d

  5. Unraveling problems often reveals more problems. Problems arent always a negative. And, the later part: why bother working on a problem? By not working on it it may go away (solve itself to an extreme. eg divorce, breakup) or the initial problem left untouched will not reveal further problems.

    • Thanks Carrie! These are terrific thoughts, and contain a lot of wisdom, but it’s not what I’m thinking about. To keep up a little suspense, I will wait until a few more people have responded, and then tell the “answer” to my “riddle,” so to speak. So stay tuned, Carrie, and thanks again. You are the FIRST person to respond to my new feature, so I am excited! david

  6. realice that not every problems are to be solve completely in a marriage.
    first listening for what the other person needs from me.
    going and looking for others thing in the marriage or the other person is telling me.

    • Thanks Macarena for your thoughtful comments! I will probably post the “answer” to my “riddle” tomorrow. Appreciate your interest very much! david

  7. I’m going to guess you may be referring to the “Do you want to be right or be happy?” saying. If we think we are right and the other is wrong then we have a problem. However if we stay curious, discuss it, be open to maybe being wrong then it becomes a discussion and not a “fix-it” dilemma.

    • Chis, this is terrific, and SO TRUE! I’ll post the answer to the riddle tomorrow, but you’re very close! Thanks! david

  8. Dr. Burns, here is my attempt at explaining this paradox.

    I think this paradox makes sense because when you attempt to solve a relationship problem you typically either defend yourself, blame the other person, try to convince them of your point of view, or quickly say “sorry” as a way to stop the other person from saying more. All these attempts end up backfiring and becoming the cause of relationship problems because now your partner will react to all those attempts, which in turn will cause more of the same responses in you and becomes a never ending cycle of an unresolved problem. Not only that, but all those failed attempts at solving the relationship problem just made your relationship even more distant and weaker, which is in itself yet another relationship problem.

    If you refuse to solve the problem, and instead focus on truly understanding your partner’s point of view and finding something to genuinely agree on, then you truly solved the problem because the partner will feel heard, closer to you and both of you will be more connected. All this will help you to truly solve the problem because by then the issue is no longer a relationship problem, but something that has brought you closer. Maybe the original relationship problem now ends up being a common problem that both of you will now work as a team to solve.

    Looking forward to your explanation of the riddle!

  9. i have no idea what you mean in your tip of the day. what do you mean “The refusal to solve the problem is nearly always the solution”??? could you explain that please?

    -john

    • Will explain it tomorrow. Many have commented, and I’m trying to find out how to display the comments. David

    • Hi john, you will find the solutions published on Wednesday, but sometimes you can also find really good ideas in the comments posted with each “riddle” as people like you submit their ideas! Thanks for the email. david

  10. I’m not certain where you are going with this! But you triggered some of my thought: I think when we try to ‘fix’, we are defending our own perspective. My Grandma always says “he can’t argue with himself”, meaning if we work to see the other perspective, there won’t be a conflict. I’m also reminded of the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all” saying. Looking forward to hearing your response!

    • Great point, and I definitely agree with you Jess! Thanks! Will give my “answer” in the morning, but your thoughts are superb on this topic! david

  11. I suspect that David refers to the “helping reflex” that therapists have in front of all client “problems”. I guess, that he means that if we show one , or both sides in the relationship, all the advantages and rewards of blaming the other person, there will rise the inner motivation of the patient to take the other side of the ambivalence and be ready to practice new thoughts, behaviours, etc…

    • This is so true, what you say, Yehuda! Thanks!

      Therapists often jump and try to “help” or “rescue” the patient when they should be “listening.” And if we learn to see the world through the eyes of the patient, and if we use Paradoxical Agenda Setting to understanding why the patient is motivated to resist, that’s when the magic often happens, and the patient will paradoxically be open to, and eager for, change. d

  12. Here is my attempt at explaining the paradox, Dr. Burns.

    The paradox makes sense because when you attempt to solve a relationship problem you typically either defend yourself, blame the other person, try to convince them of your point of view, or quickly say “sorry” as a way to stop the other person from saying more. All these attempts end up backfiring and becoming the cause of relationship problems because now your partner will react to all those attempts, which in turn will cause more of the same responses in you and becomes a never ending cycle of an unresolved problem. Not only that, but all those failed attempts at solving the relationship problem just made your relationship even more distant and weaker, which is in itself yet another relationship problem.

    If you refuse to solve the problem, and instead focus on truly understanding your partner’s point of view and finding something to genuinely agree on, then you truly solved the problem because the partner will feel heard, closer to you and both of you will be more connected. All this will help you to truly solve the problem because by then the issue is no longer a relationship problem, but something that has brought you closer. Maybe the original relationship problem now ends up being a common problem that both of you will now work as a team to solve.

    Looking forward to your answer to the riddle tomorrow 🙂

    • Hi Wendy, This is GREAT! Kudos! I will put it in my own words tomorrow, with a slightly different spin, but this, I would say, gets an A+! Way to go, well stated, and thanks for solving the first “riddle!” Congrats, david

  13. Attempting to solve the problem involves an explaination of the others behaviour (blame) or justification of yours.
    Listening with empathy and trying to see the situation through their eyes resolves the issue

    • Hi Chris, right on. You’ve got it! I’ll expand a tad in the morning. Glad you hear from you, Chris! david

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