Marriage Myths – Part 3

May 10th, 2012

Welcome to Marriage Myth #3!  As you read on, I encourage you to search the corners of your own mind, invite your partner to do the same and discuss together your beliefs about what marriage means.  When you both honestly make the effort to do so, I anticipate that your connection will blossom, your patience for one another will increase, and your love will deepen.  Give it a shot and please let me know how it goes! (PS – What did you and your spouse discover about your endorsement or rejection of Myth #2?  I’m looking forward to reading your comments.)

Myth #3: I can change my spouse by pointing out his or her inadequacies, errors, and other flaws.

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Whew!  Finally!  A myth that is EASY for me to debunk.  I probably have my years as a direct care counselor in residential treatment to thank for this reality check.  Those teenage girls taught me that unless someone feels absolutely accepted as they are, no one wants to risk making changes.  Change is hard.  Change is scary.  Hard-won changes might not always stick for the long term.  If a person already feels unsafe in her relationship, there is very little incentive for her to put herself out there by admitting a deficit and attempting a remedy.  The fear of failure can be overwhelming, especially if there is uncertainly about whether or not the relationship can successfully absorb the failure.  Someone in an insecure relationship might think, “My spouse is already annoyed with me/doesn’t understand me/doesn’t love me as I am.  If the changes I try to make don’t stick/don’t happen right away, my spouse will just be less understanding/more angry.”  Why should I even bother?

If you’d like to get your spouse to be more open to the idea of change, I suggest that you do everything you can to make sure that your spouse feels and believes that he or she is loved EXACTLY as he or she is RIGHT NOW.  Your spouse needs to know that you are in it for the long haul and that the threat of your leaving is very, very low.  It may also be helpful to specifically outline (using “I statements” of course) how the change will improve both of your lives.  For example, my husband quite often loses track of time and arrives home late from work.  When he does, I could choose to yell and complain about his thoughtlessness in disrupting my day.  As I’ve experienced, that route will more than likely lead to increased conflict rather than long-term behavior change.  I would probably find more success with responding like this:

“So great to see you sweetheart!  Welcome home.  I’m glad you are safe!  Could you shoot me a quick text next time you’re running late? If I know when to expect you, I can plan my activities more effectively so that I’m free to spend time together when you get home.”

Approaching the issue that way does take a little more time and self-control, but it’s also more likely to get me the result I’m looking for.  As a bonus, my husband will feel loved and secure because I’ve greeted him with a pleasant welcome and I’ve framed the behavior change as a route for us to spend more quality time together.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear your successful strategies for inspiring positive changes in your home.

~Candice

Full article here: Relationship_Stages_Myths