“Peace doesn’t require two people; it only requires one. It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there.” Byron Katie
When a relationship is struggling, it’s easy to sit back and wait for the other person to make the necessary changes to make it better. But it’s not an effective strategy because it very rarely happens that one partner takes the lead, so the problems continue to worsen, the resentments mount and the disconnection between the two people widens.
It takes only one person to make a difference. I know we’ve been told that we both have to be working on fixing the problems in our marriages at the same time, but that’s not only unrealistic, it’s also unnecessary.
When we’re in a relationship, we impact one another, we react to one another. When my husband is light-hearted and being funny, I react with the same light-heartedness and we find ourselves laughing and dancing in the kitchen for no reason. And when he’s stressed…well, we’re not laughing and dancing; neither of us. We respond to one another. This is a dance we all do with our partners. So, when one of us changes the steps, it has a ripple effect in the relationship and how we engage with one another.
You may think that you alone cannot make a difference in your marriage, but that’s simply not true. When you change how you engage with your partner, his or her reaction to you will also change.
We all resist change. It is human nature to resist change. I don’t know why we struggle so much with change, but we do. The only time we’re genuinely willing to get uncomfortable enough to change the way we think, the way we behave and the choices we make is when we reach a state of crisis. We have to be in a great deal of pain before we’re willing to go through the discomfort of doing it differently. It’s the reason most couples don’t seek help for their relationship until it’s on the ropes and almost too late.
Waiting on your partner to change so that your relationship can feel better likely isn’t going to happen – at least not unless or until you’re already in crisis. So many of my clients won’t seek change in their relationship until one partner leaves or there’s infidelity because that’s the point where the relationship is in crisis and one or both are willing to do it differently.
Your spouse isn’t going to magically wake-up one day and engage with you differently. And you don’t want to create a crisis situation to try to manipulate your partner’s behavior. But you can choose to change how you engage in your marriage before it ever requires a state of crisis.
Someone has to do it. This may go without saying but I’m going to say it anyway: take the lead because someone has to do it and it might as well be you. I know, I know……..I hear you saying, “Why should I do all the work? That’s not fair.”
I get it. But without anyone stepping forward and taking the lead, both of you will wander aimlessly for years with no direction.
The other important reason for you to be the one to take the lead and create the necessary change in your marriage is because you’re likely the one that wants change. You want the relationship to feel better, you want the two of you spending more time together and communicating more. Be willing to be the one that is willing to take the necessary steps forward for yourself, for your own happiness and for your marriage.
When things aren’t going well in our marriages, the easy thing to do is to sit back and wait for our partners to change so that we can feel better about the relationship. That strategy may be easy, but it’s completely ineffective. Instead, take the lead to create the change in your marriage. Get equipped with new insights and tools that help you to engage with one another differently, knowing that you, and you alone, can make all the difference so the marriage can feel good again for both of you.