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April 29, 2006

CHANGES IN RELATIONSHIPS

A common thing I see in couples is one partner minimizing or dismissing the change their partner makes. It’s quite an interesting phenomenon. For example a woman will complain about how emotionally unavailable her partner is and be clear that if he doesn’t change she will end the marriage. Her partner hears the message, makes significant changes, and she dismisses the changes saying, “So what if he’s talking more, he should’ve been doing that all along.”

I see this behavior in both men and women and what I believe is going on, is the partner is so resentful for not getting what s/he wanted for so many years that by the time their partner actually changes, it may be too late. Often people won’t change unless they have to; chances are your partner is suddenly changing now because you have put your foot down or they have too much to lose if they don’t. Either way, if your partner has been behaving horribly for years and s/he finally begins to change, the worst thing you can do is minimize or dismiss the changes.

If you find that no matter how hard you try you cannot let go of the resentment, then it’s time to look at you. Before you ask your partner to jump through a thousand hoops, you have to first ask yourself if you are willing to let her/him back into your heart if s/he changes. If not, then perhaps there has been too much pain for too long. You may have put your foot down too late. If this is the case, then be honest with your partner and begin to work on relationally ending the relationship.

If, on the other hand, you can forgive and are willing to work the relationship, then allowing your partner to repair requires that you not only offer your partner a solution, but you then open your heart enough to take in her/his efforts to change. If you see your partner trying – thank him/her and know that change is a process not an event.

Challenge: If your partner has been changing, allow yourself to take it in. Pay attention over the next week to even the smallest efforts your partner makes to do things differently; change your lens from a negative to a positive focus. Make a commitment to yourself to not sit in resentment; it is a no-win place for all involved.

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