Relationship Fitness

S9: Ownership E6: Red and Green Flags

In “Relationship Workout for Men” Season 9 Episode 6 titled “Ownership Red & Green Flags,” Vince navigates the landscape of relationship dynamics, focusing on recognizing the indicators of weak and strong ownership strategies. He outlines red flags that suggest a partner may not be taking responsibility in the relationship, such as creating an unsafe environment for discussions, avoiding conversations, deflecting issues, being judgmental, and a lack of apologies. Conversely, Vince presents green flags indicative of strong ownership, including a willingness to apologize, staying present during discussions, accountability for actions, and maintaining an open-minded attitude. This episode offers insights into fostering a healthy, communicative partnership by identifying and understanding behaviors that either contribute to or detract from taking shared responsibility in a relationship.

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 6: Ownership Red and Green Flags

So what are some of the flags to look out for to help you tell if the person you’re with is acting with weak or strong ownership strategies? And, likewise, what are some of the flags you should look out for to tell if you are approaching your relationship from a place of strong or weak ownership plays?

Let’s start with five red flags to look out for that might indicate weak ownership plays:

One, it doesn’t feel like a safe environment to share and have the discussion in the first place. The person you’re with becomes immediately frustrated to aggressively angry whenever you bring up something you feel needs to be discussed, making it feel unsafe for you to have an honest conversation about an issue troubling you. If you can’t even bring up the discussion, then the person you’re with has effectively negated any need to take ownership to any issue you feel is on the table in your relationship.

Two, your partner avoids the conversation. When you do bring up an issue troubling you, your partner quickly changes the subject, not allowing you to really discuss what is troubling you. 

For instance, you bring up that you’re feeling neglected because she seems more interested in her social media accounts than spending quality time together. Instead of engaging in the conversation and addressing your feelings, she quickly changes the topic. She might start talking about something unrelated, like needing to plan a friend’s birthday party or discussing a TV show you watch together. 

By shifting the conversation away from your concerns, she effectively avoids addressing the issue and the deeper emotional conversation you are seeking – effectively avoiding any need to take ownership to whatever her contribution might be to the issue you’d like to discuss. 

Three, your partner often deflects. In this red flag, you bring up something troubling you and your partner immediately deflects the conversation, bringing up something you did that was in her opinion wrong, attempting to preempt your topic. Her topic could have nothing to do with your original topic, or she could simply turn the discussion and immediately complain-to-blame you for the exact same issue you raised in the first place. 

For instance, you bring up a concern that she is perhaps spending too much time at work and not enough time with you and your children. Instead of addressing this concern of yours, she quickly turns the conversation around and accuses you of being the one who always works late and neglects the family.

Deflection is another way she can avoid having the conversation you want to have, which means she won’t have to take any ownership.

Four, your partner is often judgmental of you. In this red flag, you bring up a topic to your partner that is troubling you and she quickly changes the conversation to find a reason to negatively judge you.

For instance, you decide to talk to your partner about feeling overwhelmed with balancing work and household responsibilities. As soon as you start expressing your feelings, before you can fully share your concerns, your partner quickly interrupts and criticizes you for not managing your time better or for not being as efficient as she is in handling similar responsibilities. 

This immediate negative judgment prevents a constructive conversation and can very well leave you feeling unheard and possibly resentful, meanwhile she’s found a way to not have to take any ownership to how she might be able to help you not feel so overwhelmed balancing work and household responsibilities.

Five, your person rarely to never apologizes. When you think back on your relationship, you realize the person you’re with hardly ever to never says I’m sorry or apologizes in any way for contributions she brings to issues in the relationship. If an apology is rarely to never forthcoming, it’s hard to see how she is ever taking ownership.

So If any of these five red flags regularly occur, these are potential indications that your partner might struggle taking ownership for her part in any of the myriad of inevitable issues that a couple may face. 

Remember no one is perfect, so in a strong relationship the couple discusses issues each person has with open hearts and minds, being curious to discovering how they might be contributing to any issue, so they can uncover potential changes that can help to resolve the issue. 

As a natural segue, here are four green flags to look out for that are indications your partner and you are playing it strong when it comes to taking ownership:

One, your partner is apologetic. She doesn’t seem to have any issues apologizing when it’s discovered that she contributed to an issue. Of course, beware of her just apologizing as a way to stop having the conversation. 

For instance, during a discussion about not spending enough quality time together, she starts to feel uncomfortable and wants to end the conversation. Instead of addressing the issue, she abruptly says, “Sorry, you’re right, I’ll try to do better,” without truly engaging with the specific concerns raised. This quick apology serves more as a means to shut down the conversation and avoid further discussion, rather than a genuine expression of remorse or commitment to change.

Two, Conversations stay in the present moment. Discussions on even the most difficult of issues for the most part stay on the topic in the present moment until a resolution is found. Conversations don’t steer off into blame games about what someone did in the past or worry about what might happen in the future. Of course, we can all learn from the past, and we can in the present make decisions to reduce the risk of bad things happening in the future, but for the most part conversations stay in discussing the topic in the present moment.

Three, your partner is accountable. The person genuinely seems open to taking responsibility if he or she has made a weak play of any kind.

For example, let’s say you’re experiencing frequent arguments about household chores. Your partner, upon reflection, realizes that she often criticizes your way of doing things, which leads you to participate less in household tasks. During a calm discussion, she acknowledges her behavior, saying, “I realize that I’ve been overly critical about how you do chores, and that’s not fair. It’s probably why you’ve been hesitant to help out. I’m sorry for making you feel unappreciated, and I’ll work on giving you space to do things your way.” 

This admission and willingness to change her behavior show accountability for her role in the ongoing issue.

Four, Open-minded. During the discussion, neither person feels judged for having done something wrong.

For instance, let’s say as a couple you two decide to discuss your diminishing quality time together. You start by expressing that you feel you’ve both been caught up in your individual routines and haven’t been making enough time for each other. Your partner listens without interrupting, acknowledges your feelings, and adds that she also misses your quality time but has been unsure how to bring it up.

Instead of blaming each other, you both acknowledge how your individual actions and busy schedules have contributed to the situation. You discuss possible solutions, like scheduling regular date nights or setting aside time each evening to connect without distractions. This open, non-judgmental conversation allows you both to understand each other’s perspectives and work together towards a solution.

So with that last point, we end season 9: Ownership where we discussed the foundational question: “Do you both take responsibility to your contributions to issues?”

And as always, you can check how well you’re both showing up in Core area #8 Ownership by completing the Relationship Workout Program available at RelationshipWorkout.com.

In the upcoming seasons, we’ll begin discussing topics that can restrict our ability to show up as the strongest partner possible, starting with Season 9: Anger where we discuss the foundational question: “Does anger spark drama in your relationship?”

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