Often when a couple comes into counseling they are acting according to game theory without really knowing it. She tells him, "I want you to change first." He tells her the same. Each wants to maximize their own payoffs.
What are you really saying? "The problem lies totally with my partner, not with me. I am perfect. If only they would do it the right way (my way) this relationship would be wonderful. I have no responsibility in this relationship being average or below average. It is all their fault."
They do not realize they could both have a greater payoff if they worked together. In game theorIf it is "every man for himself," they do not get the very best payoffs.
Put the needs of the relationship ahead of your own needs and watch how well your own needs are met. Consistently put your needs ahead of the needs of the relationship and you suffer the consequences.