By: Sarah Zucker, PsyD

When we’ve been with our partner for so long, we get that ease and comfort that only comes from logging a lot of hours with someone. However, with that, things can get a little stale and commonplace. We tend to get into the same behavior patterns, acting and reacting more on autopilot than using conscious thought. If we’re relating effectively to one another, we usually don’t notice this cycle and things are all good. However, if we are doing the same behaviors over and over again, and it’s causing us problems, it’s good to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Couples Therapy San DiegoRelationship expert David Burns, MD, says that no matter how much at fault the other person is for an ongoing problem, you can’t fix your partner; but in a healthy relationship, once you start changing yourself, your partner will likely change too. It can be painful to acknowledge, but Burns has a great point. We need to look at our role in the situation. What are our underlying attitudes, beliefs, and emotions that lead us to react the way that we do? Are we absent-mindedly reacting instead of thoughtfully responding? However we decide to respond to our partner, it’s good to feel like we have a choice in the matter. Nobody likes to be held hostage by their emotions.

Think about your partner. Is he or she a good partner? Do they have your best interest at heart? Is your relationship free of overtly destructive behaviors? If the answer is yes, is the argument you’re continually having really worth having? What can you do to make your partner feel understood? How can you be a little more loving than you have been?

Life gets so busy, and the people we are closest too often get the short end of the stick when it comes to our attention and time. Think about a few things you can do during wartime and in peace to nurture your precious relationship. If you’re having trouble coming up with some ideas, you aren’t alone! There are plenty of resources in San Diego and beyond that provide sound relationship advice. One resource is therapy. Therapy is not just for those whose relationship is in dire straights. Couples can and should come to therapy BEFORE things get bad. Therapy, either individually or together, can teach you and your partner to break the stalemate and take better care of yourselves and one another. Be proactive in tending to the health of your relationship. You will feel better and your partner will likely notice and respond in kind. You both deserve it.