Virtually every person that comes into my programs is looking for me to change their partners’ behaviours. I have rarely heard the message “my marriage is in crisis, can you help me become a better husband or wife?”
This is a shame because becoming an effective partner really is the only thing we are 100% in control of. Trying to control someone or manipulate them so they behave the way we want never works out well but sadly couples keep trying this process even though the result is bad for them both.
So the trend of message I receive is “…we’ll have a better relationship if you can fix my partner”.
He’s a bully or she’s too controlling, he’s emotionally absent or she’s got anger problems.
The ping-pong of criticism doesn’t help the couple become effective team members of their relationship.
The typical model that is leading couples to divorce is the moment they start protecting themselves from each other. As this process starts resentments will stack over time.
This need to protect themselves is what’s leading them to the conclusions their partner is the one that needs to change.
This makes total sense but it isn’t what’s going to solve their problems.
If two people end up protecting themselves from each other who is protecting the relationship? The answer is no one and this is why so many marriages are dying.
The challenge that couples are not seeing is there are a few levels of complexity that will require their focus. Sadly the couples are usually fixated on their symptoms (problems) unaware of how to connect to what is actually causing their symptoms in the first place.
The most valuable questions are ones that enable individuals to become effective life long partners.
Who wants to leave someone that makes us feel amazing about ourselves? This is the concept that makes the first date turn into a second.
The challenge is couples are suffering because they lose this critical ability to consistently help each other feel great.
The reality is they never really had a conscious ability – they just turned up had fun with each other and so they felt good.
This is in my mind is one of natures cruellest tricks. Give the couple the chemical illusion they will feel that way for life and then slowly remove it.
What the couple is left with is not knowing they need critical skills and new understandings to be able to be an effective team member that can help their partner consistently feel great about themselves.
My clients are learning these critical skills:-
Your partner is nothing like you, and so your responsibility is to determine how they are different so when you show up in the marriage, you do so in a way that brings out the best in them.
My clients learn that their relationship with themselves is critical. Far too many people are behaving in ways that misrepresent who they really are because they are affected either by a history of poor role models or outdated patterns of behaviour.
Once they have reconnected to themselves and they have understood how their partner behaves and thinks differently, they are then in a position to learn how to be a team and grow an exciting and purposeful life together.
The skill of being in a relationship isn’t the ability to be your partners’ judge.
The skill that makes the difference is the one that helps your partner reconnect to a version of themselves that they love being in.
I have never met a couple who naturally know how to do this, so it really is a new level of thinking and powerful skills that are required to achieve this connection for life.
Thankfully it is learnable for those who are passionate about their relationship.
To me, this is the most important and valuable life skill you can ever acquire.