This is the the fourth post in our series “Working Alone to Improve Your Relationship”
In this part of the series we will be looking at practical ways that you, working alone, can improve a relationship
Do the Exact Opposite of What You Have Been Doing
Each partner in a relationship plays a role. It is important to identify the role that each of you plays and then try to make a change. One way of accomplishing this is to identify your role and then do the exact opposite.
This takes courage, because of fear that abandoning our previous role will only make the problem worse. In truth, however, changing this role will compel your partner to make a change as well, a change which may enhance the relationship. For example, Joan complains that Jeff plays golf all the time and doesn’t have time for her. Joan plays the role of the one who nags and Jeff plays the role of the one who rebels by playing golf.
If Joan were to change her role from nagging to supporting, Jeff might make a change from rebelling to cooperating. Joan could learn to play golf herself, ask Jeff about his day on the course, and buy him some golf-related gifts. She could also cultivate her own interests.
Jeff, in turn, realizing that Joan is now doing the exact opposite of what she had been doing, will no longer feel that he has to rebel against her. Because she shows support for his interests, he will then reciprocate by showing more concern for her needs. People respond much more readily to support than to criticism.
The old destructive pattern has now been broken and each partner is now free both to pursue their own needs and to give to the other.
A qualified couples therapist, marriage counselor, or relationship therapist can help you to develop effective relationship skills.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT