Your job in a relationship should NEVER be to change your partner...
However, you have the power to create an atmosphere within which change is close to inevitable.
So how do we do that?
How do we create a space where our partner embraces and takes responsibility for bringing forth the changes and transformation that will ultimately benefit them? (And as a side effect, will benefit you and your relationship…)
Well, imagine that you’re a gardener.
No amount of nagging, complaining, resenting or yelling at the seed will make it bloom any sooner (if anything, it may slow the process down.)
However, tending to the environment, to the soil, to the water and the light are guaranteed ways for it to have the elements necessary to blossom fully.
In a relationship, these elements are the following:
- Lead by Example:
Are you a living example of that change which you want them to embrace? If the answer is no, then you gotta start there.
You cannot expect nor demand anything from your loved one that you are not willing to offer first yourself.
- Judgement-free Communication:
Can you hold space for your partner to express and navigate their humanity in your presence? Especially those areas that are easy to take personal? Most arguments between couples happen because subtle trauma triggers get activated.
He said “I’m tired, overwhelmed and I’m wondering if I’m ready for a relationship.“
She hears “I’m tired of you, you’re a weight on me, you’re not good enough of a woman for me to commit to you.“
And then what was meant to be one person’s opportunity to open up and be vulnerable, turns into an argument. One’s vulnerable share becomes the other’s ammunition for this fight where both will lose.
So it is essential that when having difficult discussions, you can take yourself out of the equation as much as possible. Remember this is about THEM and THEIR experience.
Your turn will come eventually.
But if there’s no space for a communication that is free of judgements and that is not taken personal all the time, it’s impossible for both to feel safe.
- Voicing your truth:
Most people do not set their relationships up as a game that both partners can win. In an ideal world, he/she would know what it is that I need, at every moment of the day, any day of the year.
But in reality, we’re all dealing with our own stuff.
So stop expecting him/her to read your mind and provide you with the exact kind of support you need all the time. Make it easy for them to win with you.
Own what hurts you but let them in on your pain, so they can choose (on their own volition) to act differently next time. But also be VERY clear on the kind of relationship you are committed to cultivating.
And what is welcomed and what is not. Stand up for those values, for they will be the structure that provides integrity to a conscious relationship.
The moment you sacrifice these core values in order to keep a partner that is not genuinely interested in doing their work, your relationship is doomed (both the one with the other, and the one with yourself).
By genuine I don’t mean mere intentions,
Or nice words and long repentances, I mean tangible actions, measurable changes, noticeable shifts!
So to wrap it all up,
You cannot change your partner
But you can ensure that the atmosphere is the most conducive to growth.
And you can do this by leading through your own example, creating a space where communication is free of judgement and unnecessary friction, and speaking your truth about what’s important for you.
Always holding a clear vision and boundaries around the way you want to relate to each other.