What REALLY Changes A Relationship?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 at 5:22 pm

It is often said that successful people do the things that unsuccessful people either don’t want to do, can’t do, or won’t do. I have found in all my years of doing counseling with couples, that the same axiom holds true for them: happy couples do the things that less happy or unhappy couples don’t want to do, can’t do, or simply won’t do.

What are some of those things that happy couples will do? They take responsibility for at least three things: what they think, what they feel, and what they do.

When you take responsibility for what you think, feel and do, that means you do not blame your partner for your thoughts, your behavior, or your feelings.

Unsuccessful, or less happy couples tend to blame their partner for their unhappiness. They do that by speaking for their partner as if they know what their partner is always thinking or feeling. In the course of speaking for their partner, or blaming or accusing their them, they fail to understand that they are not talking about themselves.

When you fail to talk about yourself, particularly when in conflict with our spouse or significant other, you lessen the chances of being understood. One comment I hear in my office frequently is: “he or she does not understand me.”

If you are not being understood you may not be talking about yourself. The odds of being happy increase greatly when you are understood, and your chances of being understood skyrocket when you talk about yourself.

Talking about yourself means developing your awareness of what you think, and the connection between what you think and how it dictates what you feel. When you are able to express the combination of your thoughts and feelings, and behave consistent with your thoughts and feelings, you live with integrity. Couples who live with integrity tend to live happier existences.

A very important aspect of achieving happiness in your relationship is being clear on what your motives are for doing what you need to do to be happy. What truly motivates you to do what you need to do to be happy? If you can’t come up with an answer, the chances of achieving happiness go down drastically.

Why should we change? Just exactly what are the main motives that fuel our desire to make personal changes for the sake of our relationship?

Some motives include the fact that we have children, and we want our kids to see positive, effective examples of how relationships thrive. What a gift! Another motive is the positive regard we have for ourselves. That is often overlooked because many people come from backgrounds where they were taught not to care about themselves.

If you tried as a child to comply with adult or parental demands, but faced continual recrimination in the face of trying to comply, in all likelihood you’ve learned that trying to change is met with futility.

That futility gets carried into relationships with significant others later on in life, and may be unconsciously acted out. A typical manifestation of that sounds like this: “why should I change?”

Another motive for making changes, big or small, often is self-satisfaction. The likelihood of feeling satisfied with oneself due to putting effort toward to making an alteration is quite high. Few things feel better than self-satisfaction that results from overcoming an obstacle to happiness!

Stand back and take stock in yourself the next time you consider changing the relationship.  Look at what you can change about yourself, and ask:  “am I willing to do what needs to be done in order to make the changes that will leave me feeling happier?” If the answers yes, and you’re willing to do the work, you will reap the benefits personally, and the relationship will change because you changed!

If the answer is “no,” the likelihood of putting in the work or effort is reduced, leaving the odds of maintaining your state of unhappiness is quite high.

If you do want to make the changes and it’s clear to you what your motives are for making those changes, but you also feel stifled because you really don’t know how to make the changes, you’re not alone. You would do well at that point to seek professional counseling as an aid to making the changes you want.

Do a little soul-searching and ask yourself: am I willing to do the things I need to do to make this relationship happier relationship?

It’s all in your hands.  Remember: a relationship is a two-way street.

Wishing you a satisfying relationship,

Jim Hutt, PhD, MFT

©2013 Counselorlink.com


Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • BlinkList
  • email
  • Faves
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Netvouz
  • Propeller
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free