Couple traveling through the metro by engin akyurt

'You vs. Me' or 'You & Me vs. The Problem'

Facing Challenges · 6 min read

Travel days can usually be summed up with one of the following sentences:

Recently, my wife and I set out on what we thought would be a just another day’ sort of travel experience that quickly turned into an absolute nightmare’. We packed the night before, set the coffee machine for 5:45, had train and plane tickets all ready to go, and even moved the plants to places where they could get some extra light while we were gone! We were absolutely crushing this travel day. 

We leisurely walked through the train station, stopping to look through the metal grates of the still closed shops. It felt almost too good to not be in a hurry. 

A train arrived at the platform just as we did. What great timing! Let’s go.” Lyn said as we boarded along with the groups of people who got there early only to have waited in the cold. Ha, suckers.” I thought. We were still warm from being inside the station. 

We found seats, popped in our headphones, and settled in for a short nap. 

Half an hour snoozed by and I woke up to change what I was listening to. We were at a stop I didn’t recognise the name of. Weird,” I thought, maybe I always sleep through this stop on the way to the airport.” I didn’t think much more of it until two more stops I didn’t recognise had passed. It was then that alarm bells started going off in my mind and my entire body felt hot. I woke Lyn up and said I think we are on the wrong train. We need to get off.” 

In a frustrating state of confusion, we grabbed our coats and bags and exited the train on a platform neither of us had seen before. We fought through spotty phone service to discover that we had cheerfully boarded the train scheduled 3 minutes before the one we were actually supposed to be on. Panic set in quickly and like an anvil in our stomachs. We had to make a flight that was due to take off in just over an hour and we just spent the last 40 minutes traveling in the wrong direction. 

At this point, we had a few different choices to make. The thought of blaming Lyn for not checking the details of the train we boarded is what caused this catastrophe! However in her mind, she thought of blaming me for not realising earlier that we were going in the wrong direction when I saw 2 consecutive stops I didn’t recognise. Had we gotten off earlier, we would have had much more time to correct our mistakes and get to the airport on time.

We could feel the tension building.

After a few deep breaths we looked at each other and knew what needed to happen. We had to work together in order to get to the airport on time and to have any chance of turning around this unexpectedly awful morning. 

It had to be us vs. the problem’ even though what we really wanted to do was blame each other for what had happened, then turn around to go home and sulk. 

It’s human nature to turn difficult situations into you vs. me’ moments. We think things like: You made this mistake. You caused this to happen. So it is my right to be angry with you and expect you to fix this’. Frustration, anger, disappointment, and sadness are easy feelings to project on the person you’re closest to. 

In the example of our boarding the wrong train resulting in the travel day being nearly ruined, it wasn’t any one person’s fault. I could have checked the train numbers. Lyn could have noticed we were headed in the wrong direction. We could have completely broken down, had an argument, blamed each other for small mishaps, and missed our flight. 

Long story short, we made it to the airport with literal seconds to spare, and it was only because we worked together to solve the problem. It took both of us to figure out how to get there quickly, sprint while carrying the luggage, and convince the airline to let us through. 

There are plenty of other examples in which having a short conversation to shift your mindset can massively affect how you and your partner deal with problems. Here are some:

Reflect on how you and your partner deal with stressful situations. Do you have a tendency to act more like You vs. Me’ or You & Me vs. The Problem’? 

How can you work better together this week? 


Toucan Together is the #1 relationship wellness app for couples: • build friendship and greater intimacy • develop and deepen communication • resolve conflict in healthy ways • learn to speak each other’s Love Languages • deal with tough times and grow a fresh vision for marriage • manage money well together. It’s FREE! Visit www​.tou​can​to​geth​er​.com

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