Looking back over 2012, my marriage has gone through a lot of rocky moments. Through adversity, I’ve persevered to the best of my capabilities, and often cried out to God to help me. I’ve read books, I watched documentaries, I talked to friends and family, as well as a few professionals. Marriage is certainly work, because you’re bringing two totally different people together to work towards a common goal. But what happens when that other person isn’t holding up their end of the bargain?
I’ve seen from many comments and stories I’ve read that there are many couples who desperately want their marriage to change for the better, and the majority of them place the blame (whether intentionally or not) on their spouse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, read, and said, “if only he/she would change”! The most frustrating part about a marriage is that you can’t control the other person.
A consistent piece of advice I’ve received from the different mediums I’ve turned to for help is that if you want to change your spouse, you have to change yourself. The first time I read it, I said “you’ve got to be kidding me”. When I read it the second time, I exhaled “not again”. When I heard it from someone, I silently thought, “maybe I should consider this after all”. It seemed pretty backwards initially. In my mind, and in the minds of the others who complain about their spouse, I/we aren’t the problem. It’s my husband. It’s her husband. It’s his wife. Why do we have to change?
We’re flawed too: One reason we have to change is because we’re not perfect. We aren’t completely innocent as far as things going on in our marriage. It truly takes two. My husband may seem lazy to me, but maybe I’m judgmental. Your wife may be telling all her friends and family your business, but maybe that’s because you’re not communicating with her, so she’s seeking the help of others. Your husband might not help out enough around the house, but maybe you’ve been nagging and not asking. We can just as easily be at fault.
We can’t make them change: How frustrating that we can’t make our spouse do what we want them to do. No matter how much we beg, plead, ask, suggest, encourage, yell, scream, and cry, somehow they continue to do (or not do) the ridiculous things that we see to be the problem. But why waste our time or our breath if it hasn’t gotten us anywhere yet? We could be using that energy on ourselves. We’re in control of our lives and our actions, so at least something can change.
We can subtly encourage change: Our spouse’s aren’t dumb. Most of the time, they’re just used to a routine. However, once you start changing things up, they’ll start to notice. Yes ladies, it may take him a while to see you changed your hair. Sure fellas, your wife may not acknowledge the 3 nights you put the dishes away. However, consistent change and a new routine will certainly get their attention. You can change the way you talk to your spouse, the way you react to them when they talk. You can change the way you love them (find out their love language and make it a mission to show them love how they receive it). Change is contagious.
So the next time you want to complain about your spouse and all the things he or she could do to make your marriage better, think about taking the initiative yourself and changing some things on your end. You may be surprised how it affects your husband or wife.
BMWK, have you expected your spouse to change in certain areas? What has been the result?
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