The Single Guaranteed Way to Have Change in a Relationship
There is a fallacy that any relationship depends on the other person's behavior. In truth, everything depends on us as individuals, on our approach and our attitude to others. We all want to change others, and hope they modify their behaviour to please us, but, if we find it so difficult to change our own attitude, think how difficult it must be for other people to change theirs! The best way of ever getting change is to modify ourselves, value our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses, not wait for partners to do it. In short, to change OURSELVES. Change will then be guaranteed. It took me a long time to learn that hard lesson while I waited in vain for my ex-husband to change to make our situation better. Everything simply remained the same, or got worse, because he was fearful of any change. I had to change myself to get the results I wanted.
Nobody likes making the first move because they fear the consequences. But doing nothing and living in an unhappy and debilitating way could be even more costly, especially when stress is a killer, unhappiness shortens lives and also damages children's lives too, because they learn from their parents how they should behave as adults. I reluctantly moved out of my long marriage to stop the cycle of retribution, recrimination and revulsion which dogged us like two drug addicts kept high on continuing stress, with a new fix of nastiness almost every day. We alternated between arguing and making up, totally incapable of leaving past mistakes behind or moving forward to a resolution, being fearful of any real action.
With the problems being continually glossed over and ignored, the opportunity for genuine dialogue and examination of our situation, of what each of us really wanted for the rest of our lives, became a hostage to the past, completely lost under the welter of relentless accusations. The frustration and lack of real communication kept us mired in animosity and lurched us from one crisis to the next, while the love still alive between us kept rekindling false hopes of better behaviour which hardly materialised. For example, for eight weeks before I left home, and living under the same roof, we said not one word to each other! That seems so incomprehensible to me now, some years later, but it was par for the course at that time.
Stop Blaming and Start Acting
Again, I lived with something very negative in the relationship for 28 years and it was not until the last five years, when I began to change my own reaction to it, and behaved differently in the face of it, that real change began to take effect. Changing my behavior meant that I stopped reinforcing the situation and stopped blaming my partner too, which elicited a new reaction from him because he lost his control of my reactions. It took tons of courage and effort on my part, but it was well worth it, being the first step in acknowledging who I was and what I really wanted for my life, instead of just focusing on my spouse's behavior to make myself feel better.
If we wait on our partners to change, especially when their action gives them continued pleasure, control or power, they will never be any different. More importantly, we will also continue to use their behavior as an excuse to prevent us ever addressing our needs or faults, or doing anything significant about our own situation. Someone else will always come in handy as an excuse to keep us in denial.
We have to take responsibility for ourselves, if we are to change our circumstances in any way. But, we cannot do that if we are afraid, low in self-esteem, have no knowledge of who we really are, lack the necessary information, have no support and don't know where we are heading. We can't begin to appreciate others either, without acknowledging our own hurt and needs.