Leading Authority in Treatment of Narcissism and Emotional Abuse

Roadblocks to Change in a Relationship

Roadblocks to Change in a Relationship

Sharmen from the Marriage Recovery Center talks about the most common roadblocks to change and five essential skills that are needed to set the stage for real change.

The biggest obstacle we encounter when couples come to us for counseling is reactivity and an inability to regulate one’s emotions. Emotional regulation and self-awareness are basic, foundational skills that are needed for there to be any progress in the counseling process.

If you are not healthy enough to be able to bring something productive to the table, you will likely spend the entire counseling session stuck in a cycle of reacting, defending and blaming.

Roadblocks to Change in a Relationship: A Woman’s Perspective

In the intricate dance of relationships, change is often the elusive partner we desperately want to embrace. However, navigating the path to change can be challenging, especially from a woman’s perspective. This article will explore the roadblocks to change in a relationship, shedding light on why transformation sometimes feels like an uphill battle.

The Catalyst for Change

Change, they say, is most likely to occur when the pain of remaining the same surpasses the pain of transformation. People begin to change when their self-preservation instincts kick in, helping them escape from unsafe, unstable, or traumatic environments. This change is driven by a desire to safeguard themselves and attain their desires.

Another critical aspect of change is that it must originate from within. Influence and motivation can nudge someone towards transformation, but if it’s not genuinely their idea, the change won’t be profound or enduring. This can pose challenges, especially when we’re the ones initiating change in our partners. Ultimately, change hinges on free will.

The Desire for Change

One of the complexities of seeking change in a relationship is the strong desire to witness your partner’s willingness to transform in response to your needs and concerns. When this doesn’t happen, it can be emotionally distressing. Nevertheless, it’s vital to remember that authentic change must come from within your partner.

Roadblocks to Change

Now, let’s delve into some of the common roadblocks that impede change in relationships, particularly from a woman’s standpoint:

1. Emotional Regulation: An inability to regulate one’s emotions can hinder productive communication. Emotional reactivity can lead to heated arguments and a lack of progress.

2. Communication Challenges: Effective communication is pivotal to initiating change. When partners can’t articulate their needs clearly or struggle to mean what they say and say what they mean, misunderstandings can thrive.

3. Belief Systems: Deeply ingrained belief systems can influence our willingness to seek change. If we don’t believe our words matter or if we tie our healing to our partner’s transformation, change may remain elusive.

4. Over-Identification with the Relationship: Placing the relationship or your spouse on a pedestal, expecting them to provide your identity, worth, and purpose, can obstruct meaningful change.

5. Trauma-Induced Reactivity: Traumatic experiences can lead to heightened reactivity, making it challenging to engage in healthy conversations and paving the way for repetitive patterns of conflict.

Readiness to Change: For change to occur, both partners must be internally prepared to acknowledge the need for transformation. Relying solely on the other person to change is counterproductive.

Fear of the Unknown: The fear of the unknown can hinder change, especially in cases where a history of trauma has conditioned individuals to find comfort in consistency, even if it’s unhealthy.

Skills for Change

To create a solid foundation for change in a relationship, honing specific skills is essential:

1. Emotional Regulation: Learning to tolerate emotions without internalizing them can foster productive discussions.

2. Self-Awareness: Recognizing your impact on others without interpreting their responses as judgments of your worth is key to emotional maturity.

3. Assertive Communication: Promoting clear, authentic, and non-judgmental communication is essential for building trust and understanding.

4. Recognizing Depth in Relationships: Understanding that every relationship has its depth and respecting the boundaries of others’ emotional availability can help manage expectations.


Change in a relationship is a complex journey, particularly from a woman’s perspective. Overcoming roadblocks to change requires emotional maturity, self-awareness, and effective communication. Ultimately, recognizing that your identity and worth are not defined by the relationship is paramount. By addressing these challenges and acquiring the necessary skills, individuals can pave the way for transformation and healing, regardless of the outcome of the relationship. The path to change may be steep, but it is navigable with the right tools and mindset.

Dr. Hudson talks about some of the most common roadblocks to change and how he helps people move from denial to awareness to action. Are you stuck in a bad place, either in your relationship or in your personal life, and know that something needs to change but not quite sure what or how? Or maybe you’re at that place where you think everyone else is the problem and you are just fine! Even those who have taken the critical step of enlisting a coach or therapist to help them still encounter roadblocks that keep them stuck, even as they are seeking to change.

Roadblocks to Change in a Relationship

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your relationship feels stagnant or disconnected? You realize that change is necessary, but for some reason, you can’t seem to implement it. Whether it’s due to your partner’s resistance or your own, there are numerous roadblocks that can hinder the process of change in a relationship. In this article, we’ll explore some common impediments to change, with a focus on men, and how overcoming these obstacles can lead to growth and transformation.

The Pain of Staying the Same

As Sherman aptly put it, “Change will happen when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” This statement resonates with many individuals who find themselves in troubled relationships. It suggests that change becomes a necessity when the current situation is no longer tolerable. However, before delving into the roadblocks to change, let’s understand why change is essential.

The Necessity of Change

Change is a fundamental aspect of growth, and we witness it in the world around us daily. Yet, when it comes to ourselves and our relationships, we often become complacent, accepting things as they are. Phrases like “I’ll always be this way, so you’ll have to love me as I am” are all too familiar. However, change is vital for personal and relational development.

Dr. Hawkins outlines five stages of change in his book “When Loving Him Is Hurting You.” These stages are:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance

These stages highlight the gradual process of change, from not even recognizing the need for change (pre-contemplation) to actively implementing and sustaining it (maintenance).

The Roadblocks to Change

1. Denial

Denial is often the first and most significant roadblock to change. Many individuals believe that the change should come from others, not from themselves. They may even insist, “I’m just this way; if you love me, you’ll accept me as I am.” Overcoming denial is the initial step towards any meaningful change.

2. Inability to Listen

Effective change requires the ability to listen and receive feedback openly. Without this skill, individuals are likely to remain stuck in their ways. Listening, especially to your partner, is crucial in recognizing opportunities for change.

3. Unwillingness to Change

Some individuals simply declare, “I’m not going to change.” Overcoming this roadblock often involves discussing what might inspire or force them to change. Understanding the motivations for change is crucial to progress.

4. External vs. Internal Motivation

Change can be externally or internally motivated. Discipline and consequences can drive external change, but it may not be sustainable in the long run. Internal, heart-driven change is often the most profound and lasting. It requires personal buy-in and a genuine desire for transformation.

5. God-Inspired Change

For some, their faith and moral values inspire change. A spiritual foundation can provide a powerful internal motivation for growth and transformation. Understanding the source of inspiration for change is essential in navigating the path to lasting transformation.

In conclusion, change is a necessary and natural part of personal and relational growth. However, various roadblocks, including denial, poor listening skills, and an unwillingness to change, can hinder progress. To overcome these obstacles, individuals must recognize the need for change, actively listen to their partners, and find the internal motivation to implement and sustain meaningful transformations. Change doesn’t have to be feared; it can be a path to a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: The importance of Patience in Marriage

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.



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