039: Respond to your partners needs, not behaviors

Podcast Guest: Cole Ratcliffe

039: Respond to your partners needs, not behaviors

Listen to the Show:

In this Episode

On today’s podcast of Stronger Marriage Connection, Dave and Liz talk to Dr. Cole Ratcliffe about how we often get stuck in bad behaviors in our marriage relationships. Dr. Ratcliffe explains five steps that help eliminate bad behavior and provides some tips that might help increase connection in a sustainable way. Showing our partners we love them takes time and effort, but is incredibly worth it!

The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of the Utah Marriage Commission.”

0:00 – Introduction: Who is Cole Ratcliffe?
2:29 – Why are annoying and bad behaviors so common?
4:42 – “Helping” is not always helpful
7:10 – Why we get stuck in bad behavior
10:48 – Marriage is the great revealer of weaknesses
14:54 – There is no justification for bad behavior
17:15 – Take personal responsibility for our needs
19:25 – Recognize your partner’s needs
20:32 – 5 Steps to help eliminate bad behavior
25:10 – Simple things to do to improve connection
26:40 – How to say I love you in a personal way
28:44 – Patience is the 5th step
29:40 – Investment in unselfishness is the key for a stronger marriage connection
31:12 – Resources from Cole Ratcliffe
31:59 – Cole’s takeaway: taking time to understand gives us traction for meeting our partners emotions and needs
32:39 – Liz’s takeaway: turn around the meaning of “but” in our apologies
33:11 – Dave’s takeaway: don’t react to the behavior, respond to the need

About Cole Ratcliffe

Cole Ratcliffe was raised in Springville, Utah, and completed a bachelor’s degree at BYU. He obtained a masters and doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from Kansas State University. Currently, he teaches full-time at BYU-Idaho in Marriage and Family Studies and oversees their online program. He has taught numerous courses in his career, such as human development, marriage, marriage prep, marriage skills, parenting, and relationship education. Dr. Ratcliffe maintains a small private clinical practice where he conducts individual, marriage, and family therapy, including discernment counseling. He has been married for 16 years to his wife Jenna and together they have 5 (almost 6) children. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, hunting, playing sports, and watching college football.

Cole Ratcliffe Links:


Insights and Invites


Cole: Take personal responsibility for having our needs met.
Dave: Don’t react to the behavior. See the unmet needs.
Liz: We need to turn around the meaning of “but” in our apologies.


  • Focus on the things you can control.
  • Respond to the need underneath the behavior.
  • Identify the things you need to stop doing. Apologize with the proper use of the word “but”. 
  • Find a few small and simple things to increase connection that are sustainable.
  • Be patient with yourself and with others.

Visit our site for FREE relationship resources and regular giveaways:



Facebook: StrongerMarriage.org

Instagram: @strongermarriagelife

TikTok: @strongermarriagelife 

Dr. Dave Schramm:





Facebook Marriage Group:


Facebook Parenting Group:



Dr. Liz Hale: