Many couples operate under the assumption that being in a relationship means to be bossed around, told what to do, and to loose their personal freedom and choices. I have heard references to young couples getting engaged as “he bit the bullet” and other similar degrading remarks.

I’m sure you have heard before couples complain about how their partner wants to change and control them and references to partners being “trained,” “whipped,” “on a short leash,” etc. All these really set up the stage to struggle in one’s relationship.

After the “infatuation” stage, the honeymoon period, is over and the “power struggle” sets in (the second stage of relationships), we get stuck in our perspectives and have repeating arguments and conflicts. We try to resolve and address this by wanting and trying to change our partner.

When we address our relationship thinking that we have to change our partner so that we get along better, so we’d like our partner better and to get our needs met we are setting ourselves up for dissatisfaction.

Partners CANNOT be changed. Yes, you read that right. They cannot be changed. Please, read that again: They cannot be changed. I can’t emphasize this enough. I come across this concept probably more so that the average person in my I work with couples and creating changes. It is very frustrating to watch couples beat each other up with hurtful words and actions because each partner is entrenched in their views and stance and they want to change their partner.

Why would you want to change your partner anyway? If they changed they would no longer be the person you fell in love with… Personality and people’s core are very difficult, if not impossible to change. What we really want to change is the partners’ behaviors and their reactions toward each other. These are changeable.

But, the catch here is that the partners cannot change each other. Whenever you see couples with partners who supposedly changed their partner what you are actually seeing is dynamics with baggage at work. The partners are actually not really satisfied in their relationship. Take a closer look.

If the couple looks very different from how they were and appear to be getting along nicely – then the partners have both mutually worked at changing themselves within the relationship. They have compromised and resolved issues. One did not change the other…

So, the point is you cannot change your partner and your partner can’t change who they are, but both your behaviors and reactions can be changed. AND, each partner is responsible for owning up to their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and the changes made in them. Stop trying to change your partner – it doesn’t work. Only they can change their behaviors and reactions.

Another very common and frustrating mistake partners make, is that once partners understand this concept they now wait for their partner to change their behavior. And they wait. And they wait. And the will continue to wait forever…

Change in relationships happen when one partner owns up to their stuff and create their OWN changes. If both partners are doing this, then change in the relationship is imminent. If both partners are not working together as allies yet, the trick is to take ownership and change oneself, take the initiative – the other will have no choice but to change in response. This is the only way that you can actually change your partner – inviting them to change… Remember – It Takes Two To Tango!

Happy Dancing!!

Author's Bio: 

Emma K. Viglucci is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples, is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and a variety of Successful Couples ™ programs and products that assist couples succeed at their relationship and life. To get your downloadable relationship enrichment insights and receive her weekly successful couples articles, nurturing nuggets (sm) and other resources visit: