Working as the Houston marriage counselor, I’ve seen just how often relationship problems are caused by low self-esteem and insecurity. Low self-esteem makes you question your worth and your worthiness to be in a loving relationship, which can lead to you putting distance between you and your partner.

Self-esteem has long been a popular topic in the media and in psychology, but the concept is not actually as complicated as many people make it seem.  We each have core values– values that we both hold as personally sacred and also want to live by as best we can.  No one lives all of their core values perfectly all the time.  But one’s self-esteem is directly related to how congruent one’s behavior is to one’s core values.  Abraham Lincoln illustrated this well when he said, “When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That’s my religion.”

One of the main reasons people struggle with low self-esteem, however, is that they begin to view outside events as a direct reflection of their personal value. For example, a college student who gets a C on a paper or a businessman who doesn’t receive an expected raise may take this is as an evaluation of them as a person. Their low self-esteem will then make them crave approval from their partner, but they may also fear that their partner will no longer love them as much. This can lead to them becoming withdrawn or hypercritical, which in turn leads to bigger relationship problems.

So how can couples overcome low self-esteem in their relationships? Here are a few tips for individuals to improve their outlook and for partners to help their significant other bolster their sense of self-worth.

Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem from the Houston Marriage Counselor

One tangible step you can take towards improving your self-esteem is to make a list of your strengths. Aim to have at least 10 things on your list. Trouble brainstorming? Think about the good things others (including your partner) have said about you and about any recent achievements (major or minor).

To start changing negative perceptions of yourself, acknowledge your accomplishments every time they come along—even if they seem minor. Whenever something happens that you view as a failure, use it as a learning opportunity rather than a reflection of your worth. Everyone makes mistakes; there would be something wrong with us if we never did!

Tips for Helping a Partner Improve Their Self-Esteem from the Houston Marriage Counselor

I recently wrote about applying positive psychology to your relationship, and I believe that’s especially important if your partner is struggling with low self-esteem. Whenever you notice something about your partner that you like, tell them. Little moments of appreciation can go a long way towards healing relationship problems.

If your partner is feeling particularly low because of an outside event in their lives, reassure them that you love them no matter what. Because people with low self-esteem may fear losing the love of their partner, offering this reassurance can help assuage their fear and improve their view of their own worth.

If you and your partner continue to struggle due to insecurities and low self-esteem, consider talking to a Houston marriage counselor. I frequently work with couples who want to come up with ways to improve their perspectives, and I’d be glad to work with you and your loved one.