If you and your partner are actively trying to improve your relationship by making behavior changes that have been requested – this is great. You are one step closer to improving the quality of your bond together. Remember that this is hard work for both of you! It’s not always the easiest thing to change ways of being – especially if you’ve been doing it for much of your life.
Let’s say you’re working on being less critical of your partner. If you’ve been critical for some time, he/she may not really believe you will change. This is a point of frustration for many clients of mine who are trying to implement change – but feel like every time they take the smallest step back, their partner says, “SEE???” and brings up all the times in the relationship this has happened before.
For the person who is sincerely trying to change – this can feel like trudging up a very steep mountain only to be knocked down over and over. But at the same time, this is an understandable reaction if they have been conditioned to expect this from you. So how does a couple move past this potential stumbling block? What can you do to show them you mean it?
Two things that are required to assure your partner you really mean it this time are patience and consistency. The behavior needs to occur enough times and over a long enough period where it’s now to be believed. In addition, patience in allowing your partner the time he/she needs to believe is important – and this isn’t easy sometimes!
It’s actually quite simple if you think about it – but often incredibly difficult because there’s little room for error. This is where your partner might try to soften a bit, allow for mistakes and be open to the possibilities.