The usual break-up tagline, “it’s not you, it’s me” oddly enough seems to be reversed during relationships, “it’s not me, it’s you.” Something I often hear individual clients and couples say is “if it weren’t for him/ her doing x and y, everything would be perfect” or “if he/she would only do x and y then everything would be fine.” This idea that our happiness in a relationship is contingent upon someone ELSE changing is nearly impossible to work with.
#1- Accept the fact that you cannot change your partner
While we can talk about ways that we can help our partner do more or less of something, it seems to be more fruitful to talk with couples about acceptance.
When we love someone, we must love all of them. We cannot selectively choose the things we want to keep and discard the rest. This does not mean we are overlooking certain traits or characteristics, it means truly accepting the dark, ugly and hidden parts of someone. Of course this is not easy. Most of us struggle to accept part of ourselves, let alone parts of someone else.
#2- Nurture fondness and admiration
John Gottman, PhD., is a leading marriage researcher who has written books, such as The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Through Gottman’s years of research, he has highlighted the importance of nurturing fondness and admiration. This enables couples to better accept each other’s flaws and weaknesses. Gottman’s research also indicates that these are two of the most vital elements in preserving a long and satisfying relationship. Read the rest of this entry
Many individuals, families and couples come to therapy because they want to change something, whether it’s a bad habit, a self-
image, or their boyfriend. We then commence on a journey with our clients to thicken our understanding of what this desired change is, where it came from, where they seek to be and how we can help get them there. As a therapist, I believe in change, but what about our clients, friends and family? We might say that those coming to therapy believe in change, even if it’s a 1% belief. But what exactly do our clients believe about change? What do our friends and family believe about change? How does that influence your beliefs about personal change?
Many of my posts talk about change in various forms: altering communication skills, creating personal goals, introducing a new activity into your daily routine, etc. While we live in a constantly changing world, we rarely ever talk about the idea of change in itself.
To be clear, when I say change, I am referring to positive & healthy changes or growth. While both those terms are somewhat objective, I encourage you to be the one to determine what is positive and healthy for you. If the word change feels too drastic for you, think of it as something you’d like to “work on” rather than change.
Some important questions to answer for yourself:
Is change possible? If so, under what circumstances?
Is change good, bad, neither?
How does change happen? Is it the same for everyone?
What do you lose/gain by changing?
Who/what do you change for?
What motivates you to change?
Are you someone who adjusts/adapts easily or is it more difficult for you? Read the rest of this entry