Can Your Partner Change?

Have you heard the one about a lightbulb changing? 

Question: So, how many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: Just one, but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

In my experience working with couples, the same is true. You cannot change your partner; he or she must do it themselves. But what you can you do is provide incentive for them to do so. 

Even with incentive, there are some things your partner probably can't change, or can change only a little (like his or her basic character, core personality traits, or hard-wired ways their brain deals with the world). 

But, let' s focus now on three simple things what you can do to get your partner to change something that Is changeable and is bothering you.  

1. Communicate to your partner what is bothering you and what you expect. For instance, " I think it is unfair that I always have to _______"

2. Do not yell, threaten, demand or throw a tantrum. But, clearly state what the consequences will be if their behavior continues. Communicate what your "boundaries" are. Assert yourself and stick to it!  For instance, "I can't deal with your constant criticism. The more you do it, the more I feel resentment toward you and it is causing me to change my feelings toward you." 

3. Follow through with a change in your behavior.  Sometimes you need to change what you do so your partner will "work" harder on the relationship, take you more seriously, or be more motivated to prevent loss of relationship. For instance: say "You can be a couch potato if you wish, but I am bored to death in our realtionship. I am going to join a bridge club so I can have a better social life." Then do it! This may help your partner get the idea that you need more of a social life than you are getting in your relationship. 

Psychologicval research shows that people will change of they are motivated to do so. Without motivation, very little changes. This same principal holds true in relationships. Your partner will change if he or she is capable of the change and the incentive is there.  Fear of loss is usually a stronger motivation than promise of gain. 

Think carefully about what would motivated your partner to change certain behaviors and then start by changing what you do, in order to perhaps motivate him or her to react differently to you (that is to say, to change their behavior). 











clock September 8, 2011 00:37 by author Dr Tony Fiore