Relationship Fitness

S9: Ownership E4: Rookies and Veterans

In “Relationship Workout for Men” Season 9 Episode 4, titled “Rookies and Veterans,” Vince examines the constructive roles individuals can play in a relationship when facing issues. He distinguishes between those who are starting to take ownership of their actions—the ‘Rookies’—and those with more experience in handling relationship dynamics—the ‘Veterans’. Vince emphasizes that both roles, whether less experienced or more, are essential for healthy relationships because they involve an openness to discussing problems and taking responsibility. The episode is a guide on evolving from a place of blame and denial to one of growth and mutual support, with Vince reinforcing the message that embracing one’s role in conflicts is key to a mature and resilient partnership.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 9, Episode 4: Rookies and Veterans

In this episode, we dive a step deeper to discuss the two strong ownership plays: Rookie and Veteran, starting with the Ownership Play: Rookie

The Rookie Ownership Play starts with willingness to take ownership of contribution to an issue. The Rookie understands that he or she is not perfect. Often, the Rookie finally sees the light, after years of playing the weak Denier and/or Blamer roles.

Unfortunately, the Rookie may not have a lot of the helpful tools to feel confident resolving the issues. It’s like the baseball rookie who lacks experience playing in the big leagues but is open to learning the ropes.

Given the Rookie’s limited skill set at what to do when an issue arises, he or she may do well just bringing things up or acknowledging that something needs to be talked about. This is an area where a true partnership can really blossom. After all, if one person wants to figure things out, but is at a loss for what to do next, then the other person is in a great position to help out!

Given the Rookie may be a bit light on the relationship tools, the skill set deployed may focus more on intent to resolve rather than knowing really how to resolve. 

Regardless, a Rookie Ownership Play is considered a Strong Relationship Play because although the Rookie might be slow or unskilled in taking ownership, given enough time, patience and, sometimes, endurance (by both by people), the Rookie will eventually sharpen those tools. For instance, it might take some time, but the Rookie will eventually apologize for his or her contribution to an issue. Therefore, there is hope that an issue can be resolved when a Rookie is playing, assuming his or her partner is also making a Rookie or Veteran Ownership Play as well.

The Rookie might say things like: “I hear that you’re upset, but I’m struggling with what to do” or “I’m really angry, but I don’t know the best way to bring things up” or “I think we should probably talk about this, but I’m not sure the best way to say things.”

The Rookie will eventually apologize for his or her contribution to an issue.

Next, we have the Veteran Ownership Play

The Veteran Ownership Play is about taking ownership of contribution to an issue — from the beginning.

What separates a Veteran from a Rookie is experience and ease in taking Ownership. The Veteran might still be making plenty of mistakes in the relationship, but he or she is at least open to having an honest conversation about the issue and figuring out who contributed what. 

The Veteran might say things like: “I hear that you’re upset, what’s going on?” or “I’m really frustrated, and I’d really like to talk to you about what’s going on for me” or “I think we should probably talk about this, when would be a good time to talk?”

The veteran is comfortable with the reality that he or she isn’t perfect. Also, the Veteran realizes it takes two to tango and for the most part both people often contribute at least something to every issue. The Veteran will always apologize for his or her part in the Issue.

In other words, the Veteran understands that we all make mistakes. Of course, this doesn’t mean the Veteran gets a free pass to keep making the same mistake over and over again. Consistent acknowledgment that you keep hitting your head against the wall doesn’t make it okay to continue hitting your head against the wall. Indeed, a Veteran tries to learn from the mistakes.

Additionally, the Veteran realizes that it doesn’t have to be frightening to actually talk about the issues and take ownership

A Veteran Ownership Play is considered a Strong Relationship Play because the Veteran is open to taking ownership from the beginning of the discussion. The Veteran also doesn’t crucify his or her partner if he or she is discovered to be contributing to much of the issue. It’s not about finding blame, but rather about finding a compassionate and sustainable solution. 

Ultimately, in a strong relationship, both partners grow to be Veterans.

A few more points, to play it ownership strong, you need to not be Afraid to Put an Issue on the Table

Often one of the most difficult parts to resolving an issue is just bringing it up. Yet, if you don’t start the conversation, then you’re relying on your partner to initiate. Meanwhile, he or she may have no clue as to what’s bothering you. Furthermore, you risk the issue escalating and getting worse as the unresolved issue is given time to fester and grow.

Just put the topic on the table. Don’t worry so much about having all the exact right words from the start to express the issue, nor finding the perfect time to talk. If you have a strong partnership, then the words will start to flow and you two will figure it out from there.

Also you need to Make It Feel Safe to Honestly Share All

The safer a person feels in sharing feelings and thoughts, the more honest and open they will be. 

Feeling safe in a relationship means partly that a person doesn’t fear being penalized by truly sharing what’s going on inside for him or her. 

This means shared thoughts and feelings are not used against the person who shared them the future. This means no negative judgement, crucifying in a blame game, or experiencing angry revenge for being vulnerable and sharing.

So now that we’ve discussed both strong and weak ownership plays, let’s turn our attention to discuss strong and weak ownership strategies that utilize these plays: the topic of our next episode: Ownership Strategies.

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