Fixing your marriage is hard.
People in relationships want to be happy and peaceful. Couples all over the world share that wish. So why are relationships so fraught with difficulty and confusion? This is common too, and it’s something we can all do something about.
Unfortunately, most couples have one track for solving their problems—and it usually doesn’t work. Here’s why.
Fixing Your Marriage: Does It Mean Convincing Your Spouse to Change?
Many of us think that our relationships would improve if our partner only did a few things differently. “It seems so simple,” we might think. Unfortunately, both spouses probably have their own lists of what their mate could do to make the marriage perfect.
But fixing your marriage takes more.
The problem is that these lists are about what is needed by one of the partners, and it requires the other person to do the work. When I see couples in therapy it’s likely that the two partners have been doing everything they can to make the relationship better, all on their own. Only it doesn’t make the relationship better.
No, Positive Change in Relationships Has to Come From Within
Both people are frustrated and exhausted. They have both worked hard to make it better and the marriage just doesn’t improve.
It’s not like people aren’t trying. So, why doesn’t this effort work? The truth is we all want our beloved to be different so we can be happy. But the only way to improve a relationship is to look inside ourselves and decide what we can do different. It’s a hard shift for most people to make—realizing we can’t re-design our partners, but that we must instead turn our attention to ourselves, look at our own behavior, and see what we can alter.
Fixing Your Marriage Is Harder When Distress Traps You Inside of Yourselves
This is even harder for people in distress. Distress means we are not happy with what is happening. As humans, we know exactly what we want changed, only this applies to two people when there is a relationship and both people have their own unique ideas of why things are not working.
We do this as an individual, in our own heads. We assess what’s wrong and we decide how to fix it. But in a relationship where people are in it with another person, being an individual and going it alone is not enough. Going it alone means overlooking your partner’s needs and ideas on how to fix the distress.
Changing Your Relationship For the Better Involves Starting with Yourself
So, both spouses usually have two different solutions to the same difficulty. We don’t couple with a clone of ourselves. We partner with someone completely different from us. Their thinking is different, the way they fix problems is different, and even their perception of the problems themselves is different.
So, of course, their plan on how to fix distress will be different too. You both see things differently. This gets exacerbated when things are not going well.
Look at your relationship anew. This is the shift I am talking about. If there is distress, think about what you can do to make things better. Yes, I know you want your partner to do their share, but you start first. It’s true that one good act increases the likelihood of another. Do yours and wait. You may be surprised.
Bring Positive Change to Your Relationship
Read a Book About Relationships
Get a better sense of what you and your partner see as wrong in your relationship and how to fix it, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It just might help improve your communication with and understanding of your partner, helping you find ways to change yourselves and help each other be happier together. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.