Category Archives: change

The Two Things You Have to Change in Your Relationship

The Two Things You Have to Change in Your Relationship

So you don’t know where to start.  All of the things that have felt wrong in your relationship feels overwhelming.  The fighting has got worse and worse over time.  You do not talk anymore, because you just want to avoid the next fight.  And eventually, you end up only interacting when you fight.  How would you even start to change things in your relationship.  When that happens, I have found tdhat there are usually two things that have to change in order to make positive impact on your relationship:  Behavior and Instinct.   

Changing Your Behavior 

There is not really a good way around it.  If you want your relationship to change, there are just some behaviors that do not work in a healthy relationship.  Basketball is the only sport that I ever played consistently growing up, and I have a soft spot for it because my Grandpa and I bonded over it.  And I had awful form when I started.  My elbow on my shooting hand would fly out to the side when I would take shots.  My Grandpa taught me to keep my elbow in a straight line with my body and the basket.  Behavior changes are all about repetition, just like changing how you shoot.   

 I talk a lot with my couples about increasing the amount of time that they spend together.  This means that intentional time needs to be set aside for you and your partner to spend time together.  This is time dedicated to your relationship needs to be for the purpose of being together separate from the logistical aspects of having a life together, i.e. kids, household stuff, etc. 

You will also want to change how you behave during conflict.  Research shows that there is a “Magic Relationship Ratio” for successful conflict.  The ratio is 5 positive interactions for each negative interaction.  You want to decrease the amount of times that you criticize your partner and increase the ways you voice appreciation.  You want to minimize raised voices, cursing, or any physically aggressive gestures.   

Changing Your Instincts 

Happy husbandI recently played basketball for the first time in years.  And I noticed that my elbow was flying out to the right just like it used to.  That is because I quit playing regularly when I quit growing taller around age 15.  I had not changed my instincts, so I reverted back to my old ways.  Research shows that becoming more responsive to your emotions and your partner’s emotions improves the likelihood that change will last.   

This is the part of change that is difficult to do without a therapists help.  It is hard because it requires a lot of slowing down.  I also want to emphasize that you are trying to respond to emotions, not react to them.   

It is also difficult because not all emotions are equally useful.  Most couples do not have trouble communicating anger or frustration.  Communicating the vulnerable emotion behind the protective, defensive emotions is the hard part.  You will need to share these more vulnerable emotions without blame.  Explore how emotions impact you and your partner before picking up whatever issue you were fighting over to start with.   

If you are looking to make these changes in your relationship, give me a call at The Marriage & Family Clinic.   

About the Author

Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado

Be The BEST YOU That YOU Can Be – and Change Your Relationship!

Be The BEST YOU That YOU Can Be – and Change Your Relationship!

If you’ve been in couple’s therapy before, you’ve likely heard that if you change the way that you respond to your partner or how you approach conflict with your partner, then that changes the relationship. Well, that’s because any change is change. It’s easy to point the finger at other people, or your partner, to… Continue Reading

Relationships Change, People Change

Relationships Change, People Change

Change is difficult in any area of life, but it’s especially difficult in romantic relationships. As a couple’s therapist, this comes up frequently in the therapy room. Couples struggle to understand how their relationship has changed. And especially when their partner has changed. When there is a realization that change has happened, couples don’t know… Continue Reading

When enough is enough

When enough is enough

You have known for a while that your relationship is suffering. Things are not as they used to be and the conflict is unbearable. You have been trying everything from your mother’s advice, magazine pro-tips and counselor’s suggestions with no real results. We all know that relationships change as we mature and we’re supposed to… Continue Reading

Staying healthy and fit after marriage

Staying healthy and fit after marriage

One of the most common pieces of advice we hear when getting married is “don’t get too comfortable and let yourself go”. It’s a well-meaning (albeit mean) and often true prediction. We should feel comfortable and confident in our relationship to not feel the pressure of looking attractive 24/7, but it is also important to stay healthy… Continue Reading

You Don’t Need Your Partner’s Help to Change Your Relationship

You Don’t Need Your Partner’s Help to Change Your Relationship

“My relationship is over, my partner won’t change” Is one of the more common concerns I hear from people who sit on my couch. They feel helpless and powerless to do anything in their relationship because their partner won’t stop the behaviors that have been causing problems in their relationship for years. So by the time… Continue Reading

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