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How Can I Get My Partner To Change?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 22, 2015



Discover the things you might need to change in yourself in order to have a chance at creating change in your partner and in your relationship.



How much energy do you spend trying to get what you want from your partner? Think about it for a moment - how much of your thinking time is spent on what to say to your partner to get him or her to be the way you want?

How much of your thinking time is spent on figuring out how to get what you want from your partner? - how to get them to open up, be more caring, see you, love you, pay attention to you, spend time with you, understand your point of view, have sex with you and so on. Do you spend a lot of energy thinking about this because you believe that if you can just do it “right” - behave right or say the right thing - you can have control over getting your partner to change? This illusion of having control over getting another to change may be keeping you stuck in behavior that not only is ineffective in getting you what you want, but drains you of the energy you could be using to learn to take loving care of yourself.

It's often hard to accept that we can't "get" others to do what we want them to do, even if it would be good for them and for the relationship. In my counseling work with people, I frequently hear:

"How can I get my partner to read your books?'

"How can I get my wife to be more sexual?"

"How can I get my husband away from the TV to spend time with me?"

"How can I get my partner to be on time?"

"How can I get my husband to talk with me about our problems?"

"How can I get my wife to spend less money and write the checks into the checkbook?"

"How can I get my partner to clean up after himself?"

"How can I get my partner to stop being angry?"

"How can I get my partner to stop blaming me for everything?"

Everyone wants to know, "How can I get my partner to change?" The truth is, you can't.

What you can do is take your eyes off your partner and put them on yourself. You have total control over changing yourself, and no control over changing your partner. The question you need to be asking yourself is, "What do I need to do for my own well-being if my partner doesn't change?"

  • "Do I need to stop reacting to my partner with compliance, resistance, withdrawal, blame, lectures, explanations, nagging or anger?"

These protective, controlling ways of responding to conflict will always exacerbate the conflict and make us feel badly within. The wounded part of us believes we can get love and avoid pain with these protective behaviors, but in reality it is often these very behaviors that are causing much of our own pain. None of these behaviors is loving to yourself or to your partner, nor are you taking personal responsibility for your own feelings and wellbeing when you behave in these controlling ways.

  • "In what ways do I need to be more loving, caring, understanding and attentive to myself - to my own feelings, as well as with my partner?"

Do you project onto your partner the inner unhappiness that results from not taking loving care of yourself? Instead of trying to get your partner to be more loving, open and attentive, you need to focus on being open, loving, kind and attentive - with yourself and with your partner.

  • "Do I need to take specific action, such as changing the way we handle money, or the way we deal with getting places on time? How can I take care of myself in these kinds of conflicts so that I don't feel like a victim?"

Anytime you blame another for your unhappiness, you are being a victim. Moving out of being a victim means taking loving action for yourself so you are no longer frustrated with the situation.

  • "Do I need to be willing to explore with my partner the underlying reasons for a lack of intimacy or sexuality? Am I willing to be open to learning with my partner, or am I stuck in just trying to control?”

Opening to learning with your partner can be magical, regarding creating intimacy and resolving conflict. While you cannot make your partner be open to learning, if you open to learning yourself, you might discover the power you have to change your relationship.

When you start a consistent Inner Bonding practice and move out of seeing yourself as a victim of your partner's behavior, and into taking loving action on your own behalf, you may be surprised at the changes that occur in your relationship. Most conflict is rooted in power struggles that result from each person trying to control with some form blame, anger, resistance, withdrawal or compliance. When, through the practice of Inner Bonding, you stop your end of the power struggle and start to take care of yourself, as well as open to learning with your partner, the possibility opens for great change to occur.



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