If you ask me this question, I might say that my husband should change in certain areas. If you ask my husband this question, he may say that I should change in certain areas. You see, with enough years of marriage (or in my case, living together), you may start to notice things about your spouse that you don’t particularly care for, and that you may wish they changed about themselves. Similarly, your spouse may notice certain things about you that they don’t particularly care for and wish would change. These things could be physical, emotional or mental characteristics, or they could even be certain habits or behaviours.
Now, there is no doubt that all of us could stand to change or improve in certain areas of our lives. However, while it is tempting to list off every possible thing that our spouse could change about themself, perhaps we should stop and look at some of the things we could stand to change about ourself first. For instance, I could constantly focus on how my husband needs to do more / less of _______, OR I could focus on why I am not doing more / less of _________. In other words, instead of looking outward, look inward first.
Granted, you may feel this approach is pointless. You may be wondering why should you work on yourself, when clearly it is your husband / wife that needs to change? (I know the feeling; I’ve thought this way too sometimes!) You may also feel that you are always the one doing all the changing in the relationship, and it’s high-time your husband / wife ought to change some things about themselves too! And so you set about trying to change them, you know, giving them a nudge in the desired direction…
There are several reasons though for why this is not a good idea:
- Trying to change your spouse is extremely difficult (see realization #15 for why this approach won’t take you very far)
- Trying to change your spouse will yield temporary results — they are doing it because you want them to, not because they really want to
- Trying to change your spouse can build up resentment in them towards you — because of Reason #2
- Trying to change your spouse takes an enormous amount of energy — that energy could be better spent working on you!
In fact, taking approach #4 is actually more effective because instead of wasting my energy, harping on my husband for not changing his ways, I could instead work on changing / improving myself first. And by working on myself, I eventually achieve the results I want, and my husband starts to notice a difference in me! This difference in me has brought about changes in him, changes that I never foresaw! (Bonus is that I got these changes without having to deal with reasons #1-#3 mentioned above!) See the pattern?
Bear in mind that changes in you or your spouse will not happen overnight and may be years in making. There may also be a delayed reaction between the two. So while you have completed your transformation, your spouse has yet to begin theirs! But don’t let that discourage your attempts to work on and improve yourself. Believe it or not, the goal in marriage is to work (continue working) on YOU, not your spouse!