Re-routing the River: Jessica and Steve’s Story: Part Three

Sometimes, when you’re dissatisfied with your relationship, you want changes to be made quickly.

But what if you’re being unrealistic?
What if you’re being unfair to your partner?
What if you need to adjust your expectations?

Positive change in your relationship is absolutely possible – but lasting change takes time, work and commitment.

In this three-part case study, I explore how.

Part Three – Time and Effort

It was Session 3, and Jessica* was frustrated.

“It felt like we made a lot progress in last weeks’ session, but now it feels like we’re back to square one. He’s slipped back into his old ways of talking to me in a patronising way and telling me what to do.” 

“What happened?” I asked them.

Jessica explained how Steve* had criticised her again over the way she had dealt with some personal work issues, and they had ended up arguing.

Steve felt this was slightly unfair.

“I’m not denying I did that, and I was only trying to help, but when Jess pointed it out I backed off and apologised.”

“But it happened the other day too, when you were trying to tell me how to decorate. You kept interfering.” Said Jessica.

“Why did’t you say so? I’d have backed off there too if I’d realised. But you didn’t say anything and I thought I had been helpful!” Said Steve.

Steve explained that he really felt that he had been trying, and really working hard to recognise when he slipped back into old habits. But he didn’t feel that Jessica was giving him credit for that, or acknowledging his efforts.

I asked them if they had been practicing their new communication skills. Both sheepishly admitted that they hadn’t. There had been no time, there had been work issues, family commitments, decorating to do. Etc.

I told them I could see two issues here.

The first one was patience.

One issue was that Jessica appeared to be expecting quicker changes, at a pace that was simply too fast for Steve.

I highlighted that these problems had been building up for years. I asked them to consider just how realistic it would be to expect to solve their problems within just 3 weeks!

I explained that Jessica would need to be more patient with Steve. She recognised that her habit of bottling up her feelings for years, and not sharing them with Steve, had played a significant part in maintaining Steve’s behaviour. As he didn’t realise how she felt, he just carried on.

I explained that whilst it was fantastic that Jessica now felt able to express how she felt, and say what it is that she wanted to be different, she needed to give Steve time to adjust. She also needed to give herself time to adjust, and to recognise that she, too, had slipped back into old habits, by not telling Steve how his “advice” was impacting her when she was decorating.

Relationship habits can take years to build up. Breaking them can be hard.

The second issue was commitment.

I explained that creating and maintaining positive changes in a relationship takes daily work and commitment. It needs to be a priority. In Jessica and Steve’s case it meant practising the new communication skills every day, until they felt natural.

I invited Jessica and Steve to imagine a river, which has taken the same course for decades. It flows along the path of least resistance, until it reaches its destination, the sea. I explained that we are like rivers. When we become used to thinking and acting in a certain way, we do so automatically. Because we become used to these thoughts and habits, they come easily to us. They become our path of least resistance.

This path can be joyful or it can be painful.

But we get to choose!

It’s entirely possible to re-route that river, so that our thoughts and our focus become positive. But re-routing a river takes time and effort.

Patience and commitment.

Because we are re-directing a flow that feels natural to us.

Given time, that new flow can feel natural.

I worked with Jessica and Steve over 12 sessions, and am delighted to say that they are well on their way to re-routing that river. But they recognise that it takes daily time and effort, and still come to me occasionally for top-up sessions.


Because they recognise that flagging up issues early-on can prevent blocks in the river becoming a crisis point.

Do you need further help and guidance with the communication issues in your relationship? Click on the link below and claim your FREE Communication Guide for Couples NOW!


Deepening your connection with Nature


*Client confidentiality is always protected. Case studies are therefore fictional and for illustrative purposes only.

About the Author:

Leave A Comment