In the early days of public education, basic learning was colloquially called “The Three R’s” – readin, writin, and rithmetic” I have found there are also some basic principles about relationships, and one of these I call “The Three A’s.” If a relationship is in conflict or is problematic in some way, those problems or differences cannot be addressed if any of the following are present: (1) abuse, (2) an addiction, or (3) an affair. Even the best marriage counseling cannot really get off the ground if any of these three issues are not first dealt with and resolved. In essence, the relationship itself cannot truly improve if either or both partners are engaging in any of these behaviors, even if they and their therapist have the best of intentions. Abuse is an attempt by one partner to control the other via physical or emotional violence, and any sort of violence vitiates genuine intimacy. A person who is addicted to a substance or an activity such as gambling or pornography ends up having their primary relationship with the addiction. And of course a partner engaged in a physical and/or emotional affair is doing the same thing, and has also betrayed the trust of the other. I find it helpful to realize that in a two-person relationship (a dyad) there are actually three entities which must be considered and treated with respect: both individuals and the relationship itself. It can put things in perspective and minimize blame to realize that certain behaviors or attitudes damage a relationship, no matter what the personalities, needs, or qualities of the people involved. And also that certain behaviors can nurture the relationship, with distinct benefits to both partners, no matter who they are.