Many couples come into marriage counseling or couples counseling with numerous uncertainties. They usually have one common theme: an expectation.
The unrealistic expectation is a hope that a partner will change and the relationship will become satisfying. The partners may be consumed with the desire for change. Despite this desire, each partner seems to be unaware that in order for the relationship to be modified, change begins with the self.
I often inform couples on their first visit that therapy is about identifying unhealthy patterns within oneself and attempting to bring those to the surface. While recognizing and exploring an individual’s unhealthy patterns, it is up to the individual to decide whether different coping tools and alternative approaches would work best.
Despite the couple’s strong desire to have the relationship change—or, deep down inside, urging for one spouse to change—that would be an unrealistic expectation. People can only hope for or expect different outcomes when they make a choice to change their own behavior. Relationships are then shaped and formed according to the decisions one makes and the actions one takes.
The partners then learn about each other as the process enables them to grow closer on communicative, emotional, physical, and sexual levels. Vulnerability and openness to hearing and listening to one another can be of great significance. Compromising while practicing patience with one another may be critical to reaching the goals you want the relationship to attain.
I think marital satisfaction is made up of what you are willing to put in and what you are not willing to tolerate. Deciphering the two can be crucial. Therefore, it is all up to you to make the appropriate modifications and changes as to acquire your happiness in a relationship. Waiting for your spouse to change implies you are not willing and dedicated to the improvement process, and therefore you may be hindering your own growth. Allowing yourself to focus on your partner’s motivation—or lack thereof—will only steer you away from what you can possibly gain on the journey to self-discovery.
Once you allow yourself to become completely involved, you might gain self-awareness that can bring you to where you want to go. Through exploration and in-depth discussion, you need to make appropriate changes to improve. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of the relationship you and your partner have built.
With insight and the newly learned coping tools, you have the power to make any modifications you see fit to enhance your relationship dynamics. However, with an unrealistic expectation that your significant other is ready and willing to do the same, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Concentrating on yourself, your thoughts, your behaviors, your intentions, and your goals will help you attain the most desirable results.
Hence, marriage counseling/couples counseling is about learning about yourself and your own road blocks. It is about acquiring understanding, as well as insight into yourself, your relationship, and where you would prefer it to be. The key is realizing that relationship improvement occurs only with self-improvement.
© Copyright 2010 by Kelly Gorsky. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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