Deciding What to Work On In Yourself and Criteria


  1. List 3-4 things your spouse complains about in you.
  • Focus on how you are in the relationship—rather than just specific behaviors. (e.g., not considerate rather than “sloppy.)
  • Look at the kernel of truth in each of these complaints, again, focusing on the relationship parts, not just your behavioral quirks.
  1. Add anything else you would put on the list of potential areas of improvement in yourself as a spouse.

Criteria for choosing your personal agenda for change

  • Meaningful to both partners
    • It’s meaningful enough for me to take personal ownership
    • I have reason to believe that my changing here would be good for my spouse—would  help him/her feel more loved, respected, or like a full partner
    • I think it’s something I could improve in myself
    • I would benefit personally from making this change—shouldn’t be just “complying” with the spouse’s expectation
    • The relationship would likely benefit
  • Involves positive behavior and not only the absence of negative
    • Doing more of something he/she likes
    • Trying a new behavior
    • Substituting a positive behavior for a negative one
    • Practicing a new attitude (e.g., gratitude) rather than just trying not to be negative
  • It’s about my changing, not my spouse changing
    • Progress in the sort run on my end would not require spouse to shift behavior
    • My effort would not require the spouse to notice and praise
  • Small changes could make a difference
    • A trajectory of change rather than an immediate transformation