Changing Your Relationship by Changing Your Own Behaviour Rather Than Trying To Directly Change Your Partner’s Behaviour

By Alice Boyes, PhD. | Uncategorized

Self change is tough.

Trying to change someone else is usually banging your head against a brick wall.

Ask yourself:

How do I want my partner to be different?

Write your answer on the closest piece of paper you have handy.

Ask yourself:

Why is that important to me?

For example

I want my partner to be LESS CRITICAL

because

I want to FEEL MORE CONFIDENT.

Don’t wait for your partner to change

If you want to feel more confident in yourself, start acting more confident in yourself in a way that’s RELATIONSHIP ENHANCING.

Think of a way you could act more confident that’s different to what you would normally do. If you can’t think of anything specific now, look out for an opportunity and take the next opportunity that comes along. If you act confident, your thoughts and feelings will tend to follow along and you’ll start to feel more confident.

More examples

1. If you want your partner to be more TRUSTING so you can FEEL MORE TRUSTED

try acting more trusted. Either by talking about and expressing caring about topics THEY feel emotionally vulnerable about, or

stepping up and taking responsibility yourself for responsibilities you usually leave to them

2. If you want your partner to be more RESPONSIBLE so that you can FEEL MORE RELAXED

what executive decisions could you make for yourself or your family that would allow you to feel more relaxed?

(obviously not decisions that would have a negative impact on your partner)

3. If you want your partner to be more COMMITTED so that you can FEEL MORE SECURE

what could you do to feel more secure in your life?

4. If you want your partner to be more SOCIAL so that you can FEEL MORE SOCIAL

what could you do to feel more social?

5. If you want your partner to be more SPONTANEOUS so that you can feel a greater SENSE OF FREEDOM, EXCITEMENT, and SERENDIPITY

what could you do to have more creative buzz and serendipity in your life?

How could you exercise your creative freedom (in the broad sense of creating your life and experiences)?

One of the most important examples of all

6. If you want your partner to be more UNDERSTANDING (CARING/RESPONSIVE) so you can have a MORE OPEN and CLOSER RELATIONSHIP

how could you be more open and clear in how you communicate, REGARDLESS of the response you get?

Base Your Actions on Your Personal Values. If one of your personal values is to communicate clearly and be open in your intimate relationship, so that you at least create the possibility that you will be accurately understood and responded to, then keep doing your best to communicate clearly, openly, and kindly ALL THE TIME.

If one of your personal values is to be close in your relationship, keep ALL THE TIME giving your partner opportunities to be close to you by revealing your inner world to them in ways that invite them to come closer.

Act your personal values even when you’re frightened that your partner won’t get the response right or when you’re feeling angry.

If you’re in a committed relationship and want to it be an emotionally close relationship, then that means you never giving up on trying to be close – at the level of behaviour and communication (not thoughts, since there is no use wanting closeness but keeping that inside your head and not taking the corresponding behavioural and communication leaps of faith ALL THE TIME).

Want to improve your relationship? Here are my best recommendations for great practical tools.

Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert

ACT with Love: Stop Struggling, Reconcile Differences, and Strengthen Your Relationship with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

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