– Identify the complaints or dissatisfactions that one or both of you are experiencing
Communicating and beginning to develop a strategy for making changes is the first step to improving your marriage. Sometimes just acknowledging the problems in your relationship can change the tone of the relationship, even before you make changes.
– Commit to train yourself to make changes in your behavior
Are you willing to change on a personal level to improve your relationship? Committing to work on yourself to improve and letting your partner know about it is an important step. Do not focus on trying to change your partner. Be responsible. Focus the changes you need to make in your actions and/or reactions rather than trying to change your partner.
– Be accountable for these changes
Committing to making changes without a strategy and clear goals is a recipe for failure. Success in your commitment to change includes being accountable. Have your partner give you feedback on how they see you change. Often times a marriage counselor/couple’s therapist can help make these conversations more productive and effective.
– Check in and feedback
You will benefit from regular check-ins to monitor progress. This is where each of you communicates how you think you are making progress with your own changes. Your may invite your partner to give feedback as to what changes they are noticing and how it is contributing to improve the relationship. We are speaking of positive, constructive, encouraging feedback here.
– Seek the services of a marriage counselor/couple’s therapist
Sometimes the cycle of blame, criticism or defensiveness is so ingrained in the relationship that seeking the services of a marriage counselor/couple’s therapist when first starting to work on improving your relationship helps the process move forward more quickly and productively.
By engaging the help of a professional marriage counselor/couple’s therapist at the beginning shows the commitment and energy you are willing to put into make the changes and making those changes permanent. You can get the help needed to guide you through identifying the negative patterns and help replace them with positive patterns as well as provide you with tools to keep the improvements going.
Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT
<a href="http://sandiegofamilytherapy.net">San Diego Couples and Family Therapy</a>