Is your relationship feeling stuck? Do you ever feel like you are ‘talking to a brick wall’ when speaking to your partner about problematic issues? Do you despair that your partner may never change?
I speak to many couples where one or both people feel this way. It is very typical of human behaviour that, when faced with a problem, we blame someone else – in couple relationships that ‘someone else’ is your partner. Sometimes your partner’s ‘problematic’ behaviour is glaringly obvious to everyone around them; excessive alcohol, physical violence, explosive anger are just some examples. In other instances, the problematic behaviour is trickier to identify; your partner may be working long hours whilst at home you feel isolated and overwhelmed, they might be on the ipad for lengths of time and ignoring your requests for help, they may be too controlling or critical bringing a tension to the relationship that makes it difficult to relax. The problematic issues that can bring a couple relationship to its knees are endless and when a couple come to counselling it is often the last desperate attempt to ‘fix the problem’.
Translation: ‘I want you to fix my partner’
But what if your partner does not want to be ‘fixed’? What if they believe that their way is ‘the right way’ and stubbornly refuse to change? No Counselling Professional, no matter how talented, can ‘make’ a person change what for them, is a legitimate behaviour. What then?
The solution lies in your willingness to transfer your gaze from your partner (with the problematic behaviour), to yourself. ‘What difference will that make?’ I hear you say. By being prepared to take responsibility for your own happiness and well-being you empower yourself to take action. You cannot change your partner however you can change your response to the way they behave. For some people, where abuse is present, it may mean that you walk away from the relationship. For others it is learning to respond to your partner in ways that invite them to change. What we often call ‘the ripple effect’ – where a change in me, effects ongoing change in the relationships around me.
Here are 6 basic steps to effect change in your couple relationship:
- Accept what you cannot change. You cannot ‘make’ someone else change.
- Take responsibility for what you can change. The only person who you can change is yourself.
- Identify situations/conversations that you experience as problematic.
- Identify how your interaction/response colludes with and maintains the problem.
- If you could respond differently, what would it look like; what would you be saying, what would you be doing, what would you be feeling? Write this down.
- Having answered (5), now practice, practice, practice. Remember that change takes times so recognize that it is only with practice that our new behaviour becomes the ‘norm’.
If you feel stuck in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair your relationship to have a strong, happy and enduring couple relationship then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.
This article was originally published on watersedgecounselling.com.