What I’m about to say does not apply to people in relationships in which physical, verbal or emotional abuse occurs.
For relationships without abuse, I’m often asked, “why do I have to make all the changes for this relationship to work?” And, the answer is because you’re the one who sought therapy, so you’re the one with the greatest ability to initiate a change. If one of you changes to be more kind, less critical, more affectionate, more positive, there’s an inevitable impact on the other—even if it takes months for you to see it. It’s a lot like sitting on the old teeter totters: if you shift your weight, the other feels it and has to compensate for the change. We would all like our partner to work as hard to fix this relationship as we work. If instead of initiating change in yourself, you wait for things to be fair and your partner to also start making changes, you could wait so long that your relationship sours beyond repair. So, if you want this to work, overlook the unfairness that you’re the one starting all the changes.
Dr. Jankovich has been working as a psychologist since 1974. She works with a range of areas, including relationships, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, grief, trauma, and struggles with life transitions.
The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.