If you struggle to make lasting changes in your marriage or relationship, you're not alone. There are many reasons why the changes you attempt may not be sustainable, and as a couples therapist with over two decades of experience, I've seen them all. In this post, I'll share five of the most common reasons for this and what you need to know to create more sustainable change.
I discuss the first three reasons in the video above but let me touch on them briefly here.
One reason could be that you're only making first-order changes, which are changes in behavior. While learning better communication skills, for example, is a positive step, it may not be enough to transform the dynamics of your relationship. You require more profound, second-order changes to achieve lasting results in which you focus on transforming the relationship dynamics.
Another reason is that you must maintain your part in the relationship or consistently communicate the new boundaries you've set for yourself. And, negative thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and failure can lead to a cycle of inaction and despair.
(What I did not cover in the video I added below.)
The fourth reason change may not be sustainable is the need for more effective communication. Many couples struggle to communicate well, but learning to be relationally intelligent and having more productive dialogues can make a big difference.
Lastly, a lack of clear boundaries can also contribute to relationship problems. Establishing and maintaining boundaries can help define who you are as an individual and make it easier to navigate conflicts when they arise.
Consider these five reasons if you're experiencing challenges and don't feel like your efforts are making a difference in your relationship. Be aware of what might contribute to feeling stuck and work on making shifts in these areas or learning the skill necessary to create a healthy relationship.