4 Post Decision Techniques

We want to help you to become a relationship coach. Michelle and I have worked with hundreds of couples over the years. Often, there is resistance to change initially. Once the person has decided to change, I hear over and over again how much the practical tools mean to them.

In this post, I’ll outline 4 techniques that you can use when someone is post decision.

Focus on Behaviors to Change

When someone is post decision they have identified something that they want to change. You can set up action steps that will help them to change the behavior. You can keep them accountable to those actions.

Focus on positive behaviors. You can focus on reducing negative behaviors, but it can help to add in positive behaviors. You can replace criticism with affirmation or compliments. You might replace stonewalling with spending time together.

One couple that we worked with was struggling with stonewalling and criticism. They worked on spending time together. As they spent more time together, it helped them to not be as critical of one another.

Change the Thoughts that Are Hurting You

If you can identify the thoughts that are hurting you, you can replace them with more positive thoughts. If you can recognize your the assumptions under your behavior, you can change them. We can control our thoughts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

For example, if your spouse is criticizing you, you may assume that your spouse is trying to intentionally hurt you. Then, you will react in a certain way.

If you can replace your assumption with the thought, “My spouse has good intent,” you will react differently. You have a better chance of actually changing your behavior. Instead, you can say, “I know you have good intent, so help me to understand what you mean by that comment.”

God will empower us to change our thinking!

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is critical. We are so much more likely to change when we recognize the small steps that we have taken.

There is self-reinforcement. This is when you say, “Hey, I didn’t react like I normally would. That was great!” Positive self-talk helps.

There is spousal-reinforcement. This is when your spouse compliments you on something that worked well. This recognition helps to motivate you. Complimenting your spouse when they do well will help to motivate them to change.

When we meet with couples we want them to recognize what went well. We frequently will ask them, “Did you have any small wins this week?” We want them to recognize even the smallest of improvements. Maybe they didn’t escalate an argument. Maybe they went on a date together.

One couple had a pattern where they would fight and then not talk to each other, often for a week or more. They were discouraged because they had a fight and then withdrew from each other.

I asked them, “How long did you stop talking to each other?”

They answered, “4 days.”

I said, “That’s great, it was only 4 days this time. You made real improvement. You went from 7 days down to only 4 days. That’s real improvement.”

Often, a couple will come in and they have had a great week.

We’ll ask them, “What went well?”

We want them to recognize the times when they are successful. What did they do differently? Was something different in the pattern?

Get Help from Friends and Family

Of course, a mentor is part of that support group. Friends and family can also be a great way to receive encouragement and positive reinforcement.

Anything that you can do to get accountability and encouragement, do that. If you attend a small group, ask them for help.

My wife, Michelle, asked our small group to help us to change the way we communicated. She wanted more affirmation. The group would ask me every week what I did to affirm Michelle. At times, she came up with something I didn’t even know I did. It helped to keep us motivated to change.


Someone can be in the post decision phase for a long time. It takes a while to retrain our thoughts and behaviors. It’s a time of 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. That’s OK. That’s part of the process.

Become a Relationship Coach

Perhaps you are one of the friends or family that someone has turned to for help? If you have a desire to coach even one couple, we want to help you to become more effective.

These techniques can help you.

Let us know if you have questions. We are committed to help you to help others!