How to Create Happier Relationships Through Couples Counseling Part Two

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.”
Andre Maurois

The first installment on this topic revolved around creating new principles, goals and objectives that gives the couple a chance for success in finding the underlying causes that create the rift in their relationship.

We also discussed the primary role for the therapists in guiding the conversation in session to help couples improve communication and review how the couple was progressing in sustaining the new principle, goals and objectives to breathe new life into the relationship.

In Part 2, we’ll review the importance of the individual behaviors in the relationship and the effort, time and compromises one must be willing to make.

When an individual reaches out in therapy to upgrade his/her relationship, that person must respect his mate and be honest with himself.

Time, Trade offs and Compromises

To create the relationship you really desire, there will be some difficult trade offs and tough choices for each person.

The first trade off will be time. It simply takes time to create a relationship that flourishes: time to be together, time to be with family, time to play, coordinate, nurture, relax, hang out and plan. This time will encroach on some other valuable areas – your personal or professional time.

The second compromise is comfort. That means emotional comfort, like going out on a limb to try novel ways of thinking or doing things, listening and being curious instead of butting in, speaking up instead of becoming resentfully compliant or withdrawing

At the beginning, there will be emotional risk taking action, but you will never explore different worlds if you always keep sight of the shoreline. In addition, few people are emotionally comfortable being confronted with how they don’t live their values or being confronted with the consequences of their actions.

The other comfort that will be challenged is energy comfort. It simply takes effort to sustain improvement over time: staying conscious of making a difference over time, remembering to be more respectful, more giving, more appreciative etc. It takes effort to remember and act.

The other effort is even more difficult for some people: that is improving their reaction to problems.

For example, if one person is hypersensitive to criticism and his/her partner is hypersensitive to feeling ignored, it will take effort to improve their sensitivity instead of hoping the partner will stop ignoring or criticizing.

In all these areas, there is generally a conflict between short-term gratification and the long-term goal of creating a satisfying relationship.

The blunt reality is that, in an interdependent relationship, effort is required on the part of each person to make a sustained improvement. It is like pairs figure skating – one person cannot do most of the work and still create an exceptional team.


  • You can’t create a flourishing relationship by only fixing what’s wrong. But it’s a start.
  • Grace under pressure does not spring full-grown even with the best of intentions – practice, practice and more practice. Practice the right things and you will get there.
  • Love is destroyed when self-interest dominates.
  • If you don’t know what you feel in important areas of your relationship, it is like playing high stakes poker when you see only half your cards. You will make a lot of dumb plays.
  • The possibility exists that we choose partners we need but don’t necessarily want.
  • To get to the bottom of a problem often means you first accept its complexity.
  • Trust is the foundational building block of a flourishing relationship.
    You create trust by doing what you say you will do.
  • It’s impossible to be in a highly inter-dependent relationship without ever being judgmental or being judged.
  • If you strive to always feel emotionally safe in your relationship and get it, you will pay the price by becoming dull
  • If neither of you ever rocks the boat, you will end up with a dull relationship
  • Knowledge is not power. Only knowledge that is applied is power.

Most of the ineffective things we do in relationships fall into just a few categories:

  • Blame or attempt to dominate
  • Disengage/withdraw
  • Resentful compliance
  • Whine
  • Denial or confusion.
How to Create Happier Relationships Through Couples Counseling Part Two

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in northern Michigan who has a passion for reading, writing, music and helping others. He specializes in counseling complex family situations, substance abuse, and parenting. Steve’s counseling philosophy is holistic, approaching each issue on its own merit and evaluating influences to help overcome life’s dilemmas.


APA Reference
Greenman, S. (2015). How to Create Happier Relationships Through Couples Counseling Part Two. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 10, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Nov 2015
Published on All rights reserved.