It takes two to tango. More importantly, it typically takes two to create a healthy relationship. Of course, that second statement will require a dance of a different sort, one with a lot of leading and following from both partners.
But…what if your partner isn’t willing to help your relationship choreography evolve? Does this create a stalemate or is it still possible for you to improve your relationship nevertheless?
Who Needs Change, Anyway?
On the surface, having a partner who won’t change may feel like a crisis to you. But what if your significant other sees the world, and your relationship, through their own lens?
Firstly, understand that we all respond differently to situations. As a result, each of us decides what feels important, urgent, or mundane. Thus, it will require a measure of grace and practiced communication to parse out your different perspectives. From there, with less judgment and more awareness, you can determine and how your points of view impact your shared connection.
Moreover, you’ll affect more change if you first accept that your partner may not believe they need to change. In other words, you might be experiencing frustration or fear about something that only speaks to your own needs and wants. When someone is content as they are, they may not take kindly to strong suggestions that they need to change.
Solo Steps to Take Toward a Better Relationship
1. Never Tolerate Abuse
It’s one thing to disagree about the need to change. But it’s quite another thing when one partner is exploiting or manipulating the other under the guise of “things are fine as they are.” Take care to recognize the difference.
2. Take Stock of Your Compatibility
Even if the differences you feel are not abusive, they can still be troubling. Both partners have the right to live an authentic life that’s true to who they are individually and as a couple. However, when these two paths are moving in different directions, it is absolutely essential to do a compatibility check. Is this a minor or temporary glitch? Or is it a red flag?
3. Commit to Direct Communication
Healthy communication will be your path to resolution — whatever that resolution may be. Just your bond to allow for blunt language and the vulnerability of shared emotions.
4. Identify Your Dealbreakers
Obviously, no match is perfect and thus, compromise is a requirement. Still, there is a huge difference between a compromise and a dealbreaker.
5. Frame Your Concerns With Compassion
Whenever a couple reaches a stalemate, there is a temptation to lash out. Work together to resist this trend and instead make loving choices. There is no room for lectures, accusations, and mind games. Rely on your communication skills to guide you into productive discussions.
6. Plan Discussions With Compassion
Sometimes, it’s not just what you say and how you say it. Other logistics matter greatly, e.g. time of day, location. You may also wish to set some parameters. This could include turning off all devices and committing to staying on topic.
7. Accept That You Can Only Change Yourself
At the end of the day, we cannot change other people. It is our duty to work on ourselves in the name of evolution and growth. Your spouse may not want to do such work or may not believe such work is necessary. This is precisely when you both need to do some serious contemplation. Can you co-exist under these terms? If you’re not sure, it could be the ideal time to seek guidance.
Ask For Help
A partner who refuses to change is likely a partner not willing to try couples counseling. Even so, it is worth asking. Therapy is a neutral space, mediated by an unbiased guide, and it’s where feelings and motives can be explored. That said, if you desire change and your spouse does not, you can still opt for individual counseling.
We all benefit from introspection about our choices and patterns. Hence, whether it is couples or individual therapy (or both), such options may prove to be fertile ground for reconnection and future growth. If you’re ready to start working towards peace of mind, please read more about and couples therapy and reach out for a consultation.