Looking in the wrong places

Looking in the wrong places | Brisbane counselling

If you are like me and often find yourself learning life lessons in the funniest and sometimes oddest ways, then this is a story for you. Alright, let me relay something that happened to me recently. This is about looking in the wrong places for the answer or perhaps finding the solution in a different direction. How does this relate to relationships? Well, let me tell you the story and we’ll see. Some years ago, we did a massive renovation on our current house.  As part of that renovation, we put in glass Bi-fold doors. Boy, are they impressive! They open the whole house to the back deck and pool. They’re sleek, easy to use, and a pleasant alternative to a sliding door.

However, not long after they were put in, they started playing up. Every time I would open the doors in the morning or close them in the evening the door would “catch” on the frame. Sometimes it felt as though the door was larger than the frame itself and slamming it was akin to shoving a sleeping bag back into its casing: frustrating and relentless. Trying to close the door would let out a god-awful screech that I’m convinced the whole neighbourhood could hear. It was deafening.

This wouldn’t do. So, I set about trying to fix it. I had friends over offering all kinds of advice.  We filed the door (Aluminium), whacked the Jam, blamed the summer heat for expanding the timber frame, the winter cold for dampening the wood and of course the builder for doing (what we assumed) a crap job. Still, no matter what: screech, screech, screech. I learned to live with it by simply either opening the door really quickly or painfully slow. Frustrating at the least. And even now I can imagine readers saying, “Why don’t you try this?” or “Duh, it’s simple. How about this…?”

Stop looking in the wrong places

Until one day it happened. After focusing for so long on the lockable, handled door itself and the (now filed and battered) frame it slammed against, I realised I had been looking in the wrong place. So, on this particular morning, as I opened the doors to let in the breeze, I saw it. Low and behold, here it was. The screech against the breeze, the wrestle in the morn and night, the slam against the wind: a broken hinge.

That’s right! The bottom hinge was broken! Snapped and useless. Tucked away between the folding doors and the other end of the wooden frame, out of sight, out of mind, almost as small as a packet of gum: a broken hinge. I immediately raced off to the makers and got myself a replacement hinge and peace was restored to the bi-fold doors. Do you have any idea how much a difference of 1-2 millimetres can make? It is purely amazing. And as it turns out, it’s quite a lot. Once I had replaced the hinge, a relatively simple job, the screeching stopped. I can swing on that door and not a hint of it catching. Not a simper of a screech.

So, the moral of this story is simple. Sometimes, when we are fully invested in blaming our partner, looking at problem behaviour or even addictions, the solution can and is often found in a completely different place. I spent all my time examining, studying and further damaging the leading bi-fold door, that I completely disregarded the smaller, simpler mechanics that could possibly contribute to the problem. It wasn’t until I had new perspective, took a step back and saw the whole picture that I was able to spot it.

So, I would encourage you, if you have a problem you are facing in your relationship and are unsure how to solve it, take a step back. Take two steps back. Take a look at your relationship and consider one thing. Could the solution to this problem lie somewhere else? Somewhere you haven’t looked. Perhaps somewhere obvious. Who knows? I get a great deal of satisfaction helping people look in other places for the solution to their relationship issues. Because that is where a lot of them are, in completely unexpected and different places.


“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein.