Why is it some couples seem to get along fine in their relationship, while others bicker, complain and don’t seem happy together?
As a couple counselor, I have supported thousands of couples in building harmonious, long-lasting relationships, as well as created that for my own 27 year marriage. I want to share with you some powerfully, effective strategies I’ve learned along the way that will be a game changer for your own relationship.
First off, a relationship takes work and skill for it to be a happy, fulfilling union. Many couples come to me for relationship counseling and they are frustrated that their partner cant just be the partner they want them to be. They don’t understand how they were once in love and enjoyed time with each other, and now the relationship is so off track.
The game changer to get your relationship on track is being intentional about being the best partner you can be. Take the focus off what your partner is or is not doing in the relationship. This may sound like a common sense strategy, but you have no idea how many couples come into my office pointing out what their partner is doing wrong and blaming him/her for the reason the relationship is dissatisfying- forgetting to mention their contribution to the reasons the relationship is the way it is. The reason your relationship is the way it is, is because you and your partner’s words and behaviors toward each other co-created it. If you blame your partner for the condition of your relationship, then you will not be the catalyst for change in your relationship.
When one person changes how they respond to their partner, this causes a ripple effect in the relationship that can change an old pattern of interacting. If you are used to arguing with your partner and you make an intentional decision to create more harmony, by listening, rather than arguing back this will cause less arguing in the relationship.
It is challenging to stay focused on yourself and what kind of a partner you are intentionally being when your partner may be saying or doing things that cause you to react, or be disappointed in him/her. What your partner says and does is not in your control, therefore his/her words and behaviors are not your problem to fix. You can only fix what is in your control- how you want to think and feel about your partner, and how you want to respond to your partner.
Many men that I have counseled are angry at their partner and make it hard for their partner to live with them, yet this is not their intention. Their intention is often to make their partner happy. Many women that I have counseled are moody and needy and nag their partner, yet this is not their intention. Many women want to be loving and help their partner.
Some effective strategies to becoming the partner you intend:
- Write down what you think makes a good partner. Read this daily.
- Align your behavior with your expectation. If your intention is to be loving, are your words and behaviors loving?
- Apologize to your partner each time you fall short of your expectations as a partner.
- Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and encourage yourself to keep trying.
- Chose words and behaviors that enhance your relationship. Be relationship- centered, not self-centered.
- Ask God to help you love your partner like He does.
- Do good daily self care: exercise, eat healthy, and meditate to de-stress and manage your moods, so you bring your best self to the relationship.
- Affirm what type of a relationship you are intending to create each day with your partner.
- Practice each day until you become a better partner.
Your words, behaviors and attitude toward your partner have the power to create the relationship you desire with a partner who is committed to working on the relationship with you. We are designed to be in relationship with others. Be the gamechanger in your relationship today!
Written by Elisabeth Davies, MC
Counselor and author of Good Things Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction
Illustration by Bryan Marshall