The Other Side of the Couch – But I Don’t Want to Change!


Some time ago I was working with a couple who were struggling with some issues in their marriage.  The wife was unhappy with how things were going in the relationship, and she wanted things to be different.  The husband was quite satisfied with how things were going, and in the face of his wife’s pressure, he finally erupted in the session with this statement:  “I DIDN’T GET MARRIED TO CHANGE MY LIFE!”

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this particular couple’s issue, the husband’s impassioned statement has long stayed with me.  How many times in my own life have I been faced with the need to change – whether due to external circumstances created by another person’s need for change, or due to internal pressures requiring me to move in new directions.  The universality of these experiences, however, is that change is not often welcomed by human beings with open arms and a wide embrace.  It is more often encountered with reluctance and with some degree of foot-dragging.

And yet, change is inevitable.  We grow up.  We age.  Friends and family come and go.  Our bodies become different over the years.  Our understanding grows and changes (if we allow ourselves to engage in the process of self-examination.)  The reality is that the opposite of change is stasis – or death.

Rosabeth Moss-Kanter, author of The Change Masters (1983), spoke to the issue of change in corporations, essentially pointing out that corporations that embrace change are successful; those that do not either struggle or fail.  Her book points out this essential truth:  If you don’t master change, change will master you.

So how do I master this inevitable process?  I react a bit to the word “master” – I would substitute “live with” or “embrace” or “lean into” (thank you, Sheryl Sandberg).  I want to experience these processes as ways through which I am able to become more fully present with myself and with my world.  By acknowledging that change is happening, by looking it squarely in the face rather than being in denial about it, I am able to work with it rather than fight with it, and therefore more effectively live the life I want to live.

Some tips about embracing change:

  1. Identify the changes that are going on in your life.
  2. Decide how you want to relate to those changes.
  3. Choose changes that you want to make for yourself.
  4. Find support and accountability to hold yourself to the path that you have chosen.
  5. Enjoy the ride!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at

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