I know someone whose husband is making small, weak efforts to connect with her, to please her. They've been married twenty years today.
What does she do? Because his actions feel puny and she has felt so hurt by his insensitivity, she berates him, tells him how inadequate his efforts are. What does he do? He stops trying at all.
You really can understand both people's hurts and both's actions. Yet, if you want any meaningful changes to occur, you have to notice someone doing something positive and praise that action. We are, after all, really just children in adult bodies – we want to be noticed and praised.
There is an axiom of life here that relates to anyone:
Catch them in the behavior you want more of, and reinforce it like crazy. And then watch it grow.