Marriage Prep

An Overachievers Guide to Matrimony


Learn the art and science of happily ever after.

Be the change you want to see… in your relationship

Be the change you want to see… in your relationship

Mahatma Ghandi said it first—well, he actually said, Be the change you want to see in the world. Nevertheless, taking words of universal wisdom and applying them to your personal world can work too.

It’s that time of year, most of us have arrived at various states of success or lack thereof with our New Year’s resolutions or plans for change in 2018.  Goals for health and work are common, but as a psychologist specializing in relationships, I like to think of challenging ourselves in the personal and intimate parts of our lives.  I like to challenge us to new ways of being.  I say, “ways of being” because it’s hard to have a short-term goal in relationships.  I can’t have a great session with a client and say,  “Goal of being a good psychologist?  Check—all done.”  I can’t have a great moment with my husband and think to myself, “Great wife?  Check—cross that off the list.”  Our relational goals are a constant striving, a way of being, and stretching and challenging ourselves to be the way we wish (kind, thoughtful, loving, patient) even when we don’t feel like it.  Giving when you’re feeling loving is pretty easy, right?  It’s giving at other times that can be the hardest, and in the end...the most influential.

So today, I’m talking about giving when you actually want to be receiving.  We have all been there.  Wishing something in our relationship was different….

“I wish you would appreciate me more.”

“I wish you would meet me with a great kiss when I get home.”

“... initiate sex in a more passionate way.”

“ more around the house.”

“.... plan an exciting date night.”

“.....let go of needing the last word in a fight.”

“I wish you would _____” [fill in the blank]

We all experience times when our relationship is not feeling like we wish it would. It might be that you want your partner to give more physical affection, compliments, help with chores, or be more spontaneous,  the one to apologize first or squash a fight before it even starts.  We all have a sense of what a loving, giving, rewarding relationship feels like—and what it feels like when it seems our relationships is falling short.

But rather than ruminating in frustration and disappointment and feeling resentful or rejected, you can choose to take action. You can choose to “be the change.”   What I mean by being the change is this: If you want more of something in your relationship, try giving it first.

You want an affectionate greeting, more compliments, more sex? Give it to your partner, give it to your relationship, and subsequently, you will be giving it to yourself. Notice how your partner responds, notice how it changes the dynamic in your relationship, and notice how it feels for you to experience this new behavior in your partner as he/she becomes part of the change you’ve initiated.

In healthy relationships, these shifts can lead to more of the same, a ripple effect. At the very least, changes you initiate in your relationship will create a happier place for you to express your desires.  It’s important to note, however, the spirit of the “giving” is not to compel reciprocation or to keep tally of how many times you’ve been the agent of change. The point, rather, is to experience first-hand that when you want more of something in your relationship, you can take a step toward making it happen! Another bonus: You will feel more confident, kind, loving, and you’ll be part of a relationship that looks and feels more like the kind you’ve been wishing for.

As you challenge yourself this year to grow and change, whether professional, financial, or health related—don’t forget one of the most important parts of your life and one where you have much more agency than you might think.  Your relationship—Be the change you want to see…