Why change is slow in couples therapy

When Change is Slow in Couples Therapy

Feeling frustrated with how slowly things are changing in your relationship?

The truth is that change is often slow when you’re trying to work on your relationship, which can be discouraging.

You may wonder if couples therapy is even working.


Why change is slow in couples therapy

Why isn’t my relationship changing faster?

Let’s assume that you’re showing up regularly for couples therapy.

  • You’re trying really hard to listen in new ways to your partner, even when you don’t like what they’re saying.
  • You’re making an effort to use some of the tools you’ve learned in session to de-escalate things when arguments start to build.
  • You’re trying to take more emotional risks with your partner, letting them in on how you really feel.

Yet things feel stagnant. And when you get home, you start to fight or you still don’t feel close. Or both.

This is completely normal.

At some point in the process of trying to change your relationship, things will be slow and it will be frustrating. I can guarantee this.

Slow change doesn’t mean that couples therapy isn’t working.

Learning new ways of communicating with your partner is similar to learning any new skill.

For example, if you’re trying to learn to waltz, you have to practice the steps over and over with your partner.

Sometimes you’ll step on each other’s toes and sometimes you will crash right into each other. That doesn’t mean that you’re not getting better at waltzing, it means that you’re learning.

It’s similar with couples therapy. Trying to change long-standing patterns of relating doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to practice, over and over. And that’s why change is slow in couples therapy.


Small changes in your relationship lead to big change

When change feels slow in your relationship, this is the time to take stock of all the small changes that have actually happened.

Instead of discounting small changes as not enough, try to value any shift that you see in yourself, your partner or your relationship.

Noticing the small changes isn’t about making you feel better, or tricking yourself into thinking things are changing when they’re not. Small changes are actually how big changes happen.

No couple ever wakes up the morning after a dance lesson and just knows how to waltz. It’s the small changes, accumulated over time with care and patience that constitute the big change.


Wondering how couples therapy can help you build up to big change in your relationship?

Call 415-310-5142 for a phone consultation.