Relationship Advice: A Key Word In Being Happy Together

relationship advice

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Most couples have some kind of conflict. Some more than others, but it’s almost inevitable that if you are in a relationship long enough, you will have some disagreements. Here is some relationship advice, and really it’s one word that separates those who can work out their conflicts versus those who end up with unresolved issues: Accountability.

Remember that scene in the movie, “When Harry Met Sally,” when Sally tells her girlfriends she and Joe broke up, and Carrie Fisher’s character’s gut reaction is, “You mean Joe’s available?” I had that same instinct when I heard about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner getting divorced. Well, not really. Maybe for a fleeting second.

My real reaction to the news of the Hollywood power couple calling it quits was sadness and surprise. To most, it’s hard to imagine what problems they could possibly have had. Ben and Jennifer have all the money they need, both are thriving and seemingly fulfilled in their careers, and both appear to be smart, positive individuals with pretty good dispositions.

Did you just roll your eyes? I get it. What does Jackie know about the Affleck-Garner family? Do I know them personally? Have I been in their home? No. My assumptions are based on what I see in the news, in the movies and what I feel in my gut.

There are rumors that Affleck’s drinking and gambling were issues in the couple’s marriage. Trust me when I tell you, those are no small issues. But whatever the problems were that led to the couple’s demise, their inability to work them out was a huge factor. In other words, there were arguments that occurred which ultimately couldn’t be effectively solved.

Every couple argues and has issues. I assure you that is a fact. Some argue frequently, some have big blowouts infrequently, and some will say “We never, ever fight,” which is rare, but wonderful . But the distinguishing factor between working it out together versus calling it quits comes down to one word: accountability.

There is nothing more frustrating than being in a relationship with someone who refuses to take accountability for his or her actions. In his or her mind, whatever happens is either someone else’s fault or bad luck. Almost like a toddler, the person refuses to take responsibility for anything, no matter what. In their mind, they are the victim. They rationalize things in any way possible to avoid taking ownership or any type of fault. In other words, they have no ability whatsoever to say the words, “It’s my fault,” “I caused this,” “I take full responsibility” or “I’m sorry.”

Relationship advice: People who can’t or won’t take accountability lack self-awareness, humility, maturity and courage. Often times, men and women with alcohol or another addiction have this mentality, making excuses for every action. “I drink because you are causing me stress,” they might say, instead of realizing no one else is putting the rim of the glass up to their mouth and forcing them to imbibe 12 drinks in an hour.

In no way am I implying that neither Affleck nor Garner are addicts, or that they don’t take accountability for their actions. Also, I am a divorced person (aka someone who failed at marriage) offering advice on how to solve arguments. It’s ironic, but perhaps what makes me an expert.

Taking accountability isn’t easy. It takes… Click here to read the rest of the article, published yesterday in Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.

Like this article? Check out, “Arguing with Your Ex? Know when to Walk Away”

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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    3 Responses to “Relationship Advice: A Key Word In Being Happy Together”

    1. Natalia

      I am disappointed in the way your affiliation with the Chicago Tribune has locked-out fans of your blog since before it became affiliated. I am happy for you because you have been able to monetize your blog and reap the benefits. I truly mean that. However, I do not want to subscribe to the Tribune, and am disappointed that I don’t have access to the entirety of your posts.

      I began reading your blog about a year ago, and it helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. I was so very grateful for the advice and insight. I have referred many of my peers to your sight. I don’t feel that I can do that anymore.

      • Jackie Pilossoph


        I’m really sorry about your frustration with the Tribune. That is something that is beyond my control. I hope you won’t hold that against me.


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