Couples therapists have a variety of approaches, but the best ones center around an important principle: giving up the fantasy of changing your partner and instead clarifying your priorities and next actions. Let me explain why and what this looks like.
One of our jobs in a partnership is to state thoughts and feelings clearly. It is NOT our job to make someone else think or feel the same way. Couples engage in the same argument again and again because each partner keeps doing the same behavior and trying to change the other. When we try to change others, we often get caught up in blaming and lose track of what’s important to us.
Instead of focusing on winning an argument, or the choices your partner is making, put your worry energy into your own problems. Translate your anger into clear, non-blaming statements about your own self. Clarify your own priorities and see what your next action might be. The goal is to break a pattern and develop a stronger sense of self.
Chronic anger and bitterness is a red flag to strengthen the “I” in the relationship. Re-examine yourself with a view towards discovering what you think, feel, and want. Own your problems and let your partner own his.
It is easy to lose confidence when your choices are not met with your partner’s approval. We are so used to allowing others to approve or reject even small decisions. Although it is important to accept influence from someone important in your life, when it comes to chronic arguments — perpetual problems — it is important to take up your own cause. Carve out a clear and separate “I” and enjoy intimacy and aloneness.
What are some of the benefits to this change?
- You get what you want more often — and you REALLY clarify what that is because you are in control of your choices and outcomes, not what someone else is or isn’t doing.
- You free yourself from controlling another person and let them sort out their own problems.
- You greatly decrease bickering and resentment in your relationship.
- Your partner is also relieved of meddling in your life and you can focus on more positive things in your relationship.
We can help you understand or implement these concepts! Come in on your own or as a couple for a few sessions so we can help you apply this to your own life situations.