Here’s the secret to getting your relationship back on track and coming together again as a couple. Change yourself. Even if you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. That advice comes from Dr. David D. Burns, a pioneer in cognitive behavioral therapy and a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. His new book is based on research involving more than a thousand couples – and it’s called “Feeling Good Together: The Secret To Making Troubled Relationships Work.” Dr. Burns says you can heal a relationship quickly and dramatically with “mind-blowing” effects – but you have to be willing to look at the part you’re playing in the relationship – and see whether you’re actually triggering the very problem you’ve been complaining about. Dr. Burns says we need to give up blaming the other person, and focus our energy on changing ourselves because no matter how at fault you think your partner is, you CANNOT change them. However, once you start changing yourself, your partner will change too.
How do you do that? See the truth in what your partner is saying. For example, in the book, there’s a woman who’s frustrated with her husband. He doesn’t help around the house and he’s distant emotionally. One day, while the husband is making dinner, the wife keeps insisting he should use a food processor. Finally, the husband snaps and says, “You’re such a control freak! Leave me alone!” The wife’s typical response, “Fine! Do it yourself!” and stomps out of the room. Dr. Burns says the better response is this: See the truth in the complaint. Say something like, “It hurts to hear you say that, but I know I can be controlling sometimes. I realize you’re not in the mood to talk right now, but I want to hear more about what you’re feeling.” Burns says the simple and courageous act of finding the truth in what your partner is saying is central to improving your relationship. He says it’s difficult to see things through your partner’s eyes, but once you do, it’s like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. You’ll think - “How could I have missed this all along?”