“He isn’t even trying anymore.”
“She doesn’t care.”
Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Many couples go through times when one or both feel that they are the only one “working” on the relationship. It becomes frustrating to reflect on your relationship and see only those things that you do to make your relationship work. It can become a habit to focus only on those things that your partner ISN’T doing. When this habit forms it is likely that other bad habits form in its wake, including bouts of escalation when trying to discuss issues with your partner, or starting sentences that begin with, “You never… ” or “You always… .”
Especially if you have children together, it is important to find ways of relating to one another without damaging your closeness. One way to begin this process is called “Do Your Part.” This concept relies greatly on your ability to look closely at your thoughts and actions to bring about change in your relationship. In other words, in every situation, find a way to do the best you can. Whether that be choosing not to yell and scream, or choosing to do something nice for your partner even in times of irritation.
This does not mean you can change your relationship on your own. It takes two to make a relationship work over time. However, if both you and your partner begin a daily practice of “Do Your Part,” the need for each to focus on the other’s bad behavior will cease. This involves trust. You have to trust that your partner is doing everything he or she can to make your relationship and family life work, and vice versa. This also involves a lot of respect and kindness, both toward yourself and your partner.
“Do Your Part” can change the tone of your relationship. You will begin to process events in a different way. Instead of automatically going toward the one thing your partner did wrong, you will be thinking in “I” statements instead. Like, “What could I have done to make that conversation better?” or, “What could I do today to make my relationship stronger?”
If you would like to learn more about “Do Your Part,” and other concepts and skills to make your relationship strong, Family & Children’s Services offers a free class called Forever. For Real. In this class, couples learn together the skills needed to create a lasting and loving partnership.