Hello and welcome back to the Therapy Spot! This week, I’d like to talk to you about changes in your relationships. We all resist change — whether we know it or not! Even our bodies, when we shiver or sweat, work hard to keep us just right when the temperature changes.
This happens in our relationships, too. Let’s start with a story about a fictional couple: Matt and Heather. Over time, their relationship had gotten off course, and Heather’s attempts to “course correct” kept failing.
Heather felt frustrated with Matt. “He doesn’t talk to me about important things, or even initiate conversation. He doesn’t listen to my advice, and it feels like he doesn’t value me. Why even try?”
Matt, however, felt defeated. “She always tells me what I’m doing wrong. Sure, I forget a lot — but she doesn’t notice the good things I do. I guess what I’m doing isn’t good enough. I just can’t get it right.”
Eventually, both Heather and Matt shut down and withdrew from each other. They still agreed on one thing, though: “Things aren’t getting any better. We act friendly to each other but that’s it. Nothing has changed.”
Surprisingly, when couples come to me with a problem like this, I feel hopeful! I know I can help them step back, and see themselves in a bigger picture. With time, they can step out of blame and false beliefs. Together, we will correct and stabilize.
In long term intimate relationships, we adjust and change and hopefully grow together. Yes, sometimes this hurts — but these growing pains are a part of your lives together. The most important thing to remember is that you are two people who love each other.
Once you stop focusing on the small, repeating interactions, you can make a different choice about how to show up. When you do that, you create more loving interactions and harmony in your home. So join me, and let’s focus on changing your perspective.
“Hand Holding” by Flickr user Vincent Diamante, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.