Today, I am at the E-Women conference in Lynchburg, Virginia. The event is sold out and Sarah Palin is headlining the conference. The women are here, ready to be inspired. As a marriage and family therapist, I love to talk about relationships and how to strengthen them and move them forward. My talk is entitled, Making Relationships Work.
One of the most important points to make your relationship work is to get off of the idea of changing the other person. Now I know most of us know this intuitively but we still try to change the other person. Why? Because it would make life easier if the other person got his or her act together.
The truth is you can’t change the other person, but you can change your reaction to the other person—and that does change the relationships. So this is where the hope lies.
Look at any negative pattern you have with another person. Then decide to behave differently when that patterns emerges. For example, you try to confront a problem, he walks away. You go after him and he still doesn’t engage. Next time, don’t go after him. Instead, say, “When you are ready to talk, let me know.” You have changed your step in the couple dance. And that change may change the pattern.
The nugget here is that when you change your behavior, and the relationship changes.
To understand more on this topic, my books I Married You, Not Your Family and I Love My Mother But… explain this in more detail.