You Change First

By Shawn Boggs Counseling, LMFT

How and Why Change (Doesn't) Takes Place in Marriage


I once had a therapy supervisor who said, “No one wants change except a baby with a soiled diaper”. It’s true! In over 21 years of helping couples change, I rarely see anyone volunteer to “go first”. We all want the benefits of change as long as our spouses do the work. Unfair. Unrealistic. 15 yard penalty. It is the resistance to change that keeps couples from resolving their differences and additionally causes problems to fester. This is when they enter the office of a therapist. Aggravated. Stuck. Often unyielding.

Early in therapy, there is often “proof” offered as to who is the better spouse. It’s a well-worn and rehearsed speech, a ledger sheet formed over time. They literally can’t hear an alternative opinion because it doesn’t match their perfectly thought out argument. It takes the objective and caring viewpoint of a therapist to help each person out of that tunnel vision toward helpful change.

When people are more primed for helpful change, someone may still demand, “we both have to change” or “I’ll change if he/she changes first”. Let me share a freeing secret with you…both of you don’t need to change at the same time, though this is optimal. In fact, most of the time someone does go first- know who? The person with the greatest desire for change- the one who confronts one’s self (Schnarch, D. 1997). The spouse who can say, “Maybe my spouse is right about me on some things”, or “I need to understand more of what I do that blocks helpful change”. For example, the spouse who wants more sex and must decide if he or she is willing to initiate sex more often to meet that desire. Conversely, the spouse least interested in sex or being an initiator has little or no motivation to change. That person is settled and in control. If the partner who wants more sex is willing to confront himself/herself about being an initiator, that person’s sexual needs are more likely to be met. This helps resolve the problem without pressuring one’s spouse for accommodation. And pressuring your spouse for accommodation fails, too. Remarkably. So much of marriage is really personal development.

“What if I change but my spouse doesn’t?” I get that question a lot. I often answer with these three statements: 1) You changing made your marriage that much better by disrupting or ending the troubling cycle between you both. 2) You feel that much better as you release resentments and useless arguing. 3) You also increase the chance your spouse will make helpful changes as well, though no one can control what his/her spouse will do. I am convinced that much of marriage is about personal development. Many people to not understand this and so they pressure their spouses to change. But when you do understand this and take responsibility, you will find great freedom in your marital dilemmas.

So there it is. If you want change in your marriage, you change first.


For more blogs such as this one, visit me at www.shawnboggs.com

Shawn is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Grapevine, Texas with over 20 years’ experience.

Sources
Schnarch, David. 1997. Passionate Marriage: Love, Sex, and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships. Henry Holt and Company. New York.

OFFICE HOURS
Monday11am - 7pm
Tuesday11am - 7pm
Wednesday8am - 5pm
Thursday8am - 3pm
Friday8am - 3pm
SaturdayClosed
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1000 Texan Trail #221
Grapevine, TX 76051

What Our Patients Say

Shawn is professional and deeply cares for the individuals he counsels. I refer clients to Shawn and have been for years and have received positive feedback from the individuals/couples that I have sent his way. He is a man of integrity. There is one issue that I must add before signing off and that is I miss working in the same location with him.
Margaret L. Reddington

I have known Shawn Boggs for 20 years and can attest to his outstanding character and trustworthiness. He is a skilled and compassionate therapist and I have relied on in expertise over the years. I recommend Shawn enthusiastically and without reservation.
Heather L. Hodges

I have known Shawn for four years. He is a trustworthy, compassionate, and giving individual. Shawn has been an inspiration to me personally and professionally. His knowledge and experience in dealing with marriage and family conflicts puts him high above other counselors in his field. I highly recommend Shawn as a therapist
Kimberlee Tucker

Counseling Grapevine TX Shawn Boggs Counseling PLLC Logo

Shawn Boggs Counseling PLLC
1000 Texan Trail #221
Grapevine, TX 76051
(817) 328-6139

OFFICE HOURS
Monday11am - 7pm
Tuesday11am - 7pm
Wednesday8am - 5pm
Thursday8am - 3pm
Friday8am - 3pm
SaturdayClosed
SundayClosed