Does it take two to change a relationship?

In Sarah Abell's latest 30-day Love Life Lab Experiment, find out how you can change your relationship, yourself

by Psychologies

couple chatting

The project

It only takes one person to change a relationship. If your partner won’t discuss problems, seek help or take heed of suggestions – don’t lose heart. Michelle Weiner-Davis, the bestselling author of Divorce Busting (Prentice Hall & IBD, £9.66), believes that if you change your actions in your relationship, things will change.

The aim

If you want to improve your relationship, you can start turning things around by taking small but significant steps yourself.

The theory

Problems in relationships are often maintained or even aggravated by the way people try to solve them. They often think they know what’s needed, then keep on trying to make whatever it is happen, or they keep doing or saying the same thing to try to make their partner change.

  • ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again’ is a piece of advice best avoided when it comes to solving problems in relationships. In fact, we need to stop doing more of the same, realise that whatever we are doing is not working, and try something else instead.
  • We need to focus less on who is right or wrong and focus more on trying to find different ways of reacting, according to Weiner-Davis. ‘Once you change, regardless of who is to blame, relationship changes are inevitable,’ she points out.
  • Her formula for building and maintaining a successful relationship is a simple one: ‘If it works, don’t fix it; and if it doesn’t work, do something different.’

Try it out

  • Identify things that work or have worked in your relationship, and do more of them this month. For example, if you feel happier in your relationship when you get time to yourself, make sure you book out a bit of me-time.
  • Try a new approach to habitual problems. ‘No matter how weird or crazy it might seem, do something you’ve never done before,’ says  Weiner-Davis. Try a 180-degree turn and do the exact opposite of what you’ve been doing.
  • More action, less talk. If constant discussion of the issue hasn’t helped, try talking about it less. Imagine you can’t speak – how would you get your message across then? Do that!

Sarah Abell is a relationships coach and the author of Inside Out – How To Build Authentic Relationships With Everyone In Your Life (Hodder, £8.99). Find out more at nakedhedgehogs.com. To buy her LifeLabs Practical Wisdom online course How to Save Your Relationship, please click here. You can try a free 3-day taster trial first too.

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