Relationships between couples in marriages or long standing partnerships can be complicated and convoluted. The difficulties stem from two different people from different walks of life, bringing with them their own baggage, coming together for an indefinite period of time.

When couples start out, each presents their best in order to win over the other.  However, over a period of time, life changes take place.  With these inevitable changes,  old patterns surface, resulting in each person adjusting to those changes differently. Slowly the person one first met and was attracted to, no longer seems to be the same person. As a result, seemingly small irritants can become chronic unresolved issues that resurface on a regular basis.

After years of the “same old, same old”, a crisis can occur, bringing the couple into my office for couple’s counseling. I have found that, for some, once the crisis has passed, their motivation to work on some of the deeper underlying issues dissipates. Far too often, for those couples, their goal is to feel better rather to be better.

In working with couples, I have found that each’s perception is high when it comes to voicing what they view as wrong with their partner. In the same token, it tends to be very low when it comes to recognizing how they themselves may be contributing to problems in the relationship. When asked what areas within themselves they may need to change, I am often met with incredulousness.  To them, the relationship would vastly improve if only the partner would change. The thought rarely occurs to them that there may be areas that they should consider making changes as well.

Remember, trying to change someone else, who doesn’t see the need to change, is a thankless task that goes nowhere. A greater chance for success is to look at one’s own part in perpetuating the problems in the relationship.  Taking personal responsibility for working on own’s own behavior can change the dynamics of the relationship and affect one’s understanding of areas needing self change.  By engaging in self reflection, it would give one a sense of personal power in no longer being controlled by another’s behavior.

It would also affect the other person’s reaction to one’s changes.  Though there would be no guarantee as to the outcome, it would at least strengthen the possibilities of improving the relationship as opposed to the continuation of the same.  It will also give one more control over one’s reactions to having one’s buttons pushed.  This certainly is far better than being on the same old dysfunctional merry go round.

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