There's a deep-seeded belief in our culture that people resist change,
no matter what. But is this true? Do people really want things to remain
status quo? Do we really not want things to change? If you look closely
at human nature, it's not change itself we resist; it's change that's
IMPOSED UPON US.
Think about it. We have no problem with change that WE INITIATE ourselves.
But when we feel forced or manipulated to change, then we resist WITH
ALL OUR MIGHT.
Your spouse may not be willing to change for the sake of your marriage
right now, but that’s not because your spouse doesn’t want
a great marriage. Everyone wants a great marriage. It’s because
if they’re going to change, they want the change to be THEIR IDEA!!!!!!
I promise you; your spouse will decide to change when they’re
ready to change and not one second before. And the more you push them,
urge them, nudge them, ask them, scream at them, or beg them, the LESS
LIKELY they are to change. I know it’s hard to wait, but you have
to let it come from them.
It’s possible someone could INSPIRE your spouse to change, but
the person LEAST LIKELY to be the inspiration is YOU. It’s sad
but true. A complete stranger is more likely to get through to your
spouse than you are. A chance experience or encounter is more likely
to shake up your spouse than anything YOU could do.
Mary Ellen (name changed) came to me for marriage
coaching. She knew she had to make changes and came to our sessions
with a genuine interest to improve her marriage. She wanted Tom (her
husband) to be part of the process, but he wasn’t willing to join
her. She had been asking him to go with her to get help for over a year.
But Tom consistently refused.
I met with Mary Ellen twice and convinced her to back-off Tom and just
let him be for a while. I counseled her to make some changes that created
a more positive energy in their relationship. When the time was right,
I suggested that Mary Ellen ask Tom is he would be willing to speak
with ME for 10 minutes. Mary Ellen’s timing was good. Tom agreed.
Within 7 minutes of my conversation with Tom he agreed to join Mary
Ellen in the marriage coaching sessions.
Why was I able to get Tom to agree to something in 7 minutes that Mary
Ellen couldn’t get him to do in over a year? It’s true I
know how to handle these situations, but there were 2 other important
1. For the first time in over a year, Mary Ellen backed-off far enough
so that Tom had the space to make his own choice.
2. The inspiration came from someone other than his wife.
Your effort to change your spouse is probably COUNTERproductive. The
chances are good that you’re "in the way." You need
to get out of the way and create the space for your spouse to CHOOSE
to change. That’s the only way it’ll ever happen.
I can’t tell you how times a spouse will say to me that their
husband/wife changed for a few days, but then returned to their old
ways. That’s because they never really decided to change. They
were pressured. They were manipulated. And so it didn’t stick.
If you tell your spouse what to do; it's a challenge. If THEY decide
to do it; it's a great idea. YOU HAVE TO LET IT COME FROM THEM. That's
the only way it'll make a difference long term in your marriage.
Now you're probably thinking, "Makes sense, but isn't there anything
I can do to encourage my spouse's choice?" YES, there is! YOU CAN
BE AN INSPIRING EXAMPLE and let your spouse see how the choices YOU'RE
making impact how YOU feel about yourself and your marriage.
Resist the urge to believe that your marriage won’t change until
your spouse "gets with the program." The love YOU feel is
much more a result of what YOU DO for your marriage than what your spouse
does for it.
We tend to think that the love in our marriage is in our spouse's hands.
But it's not. Love is a verb. And if we do it--if we love--then we feel
love. THE CHOICE IS OURS.
Consider the love you feel for your children. Is it because of everything
they do for you? Is it because they’re such angels? Of course
not. The love you feel for your children is a result of what YOU DO
FOR THEM. The love you feel in your marriage is a result of what YOU
Furthermore, there's no better way to inspire your spouse to make the
choice to change than to make that choice yourself.
It happens quite often that one spouse will register for the Marriage
Fitness Tele-Boot Camp in the "Lone Ranger" track
and then half way through the program they will switch to the "Duo"
track which is designed for couples participating TOGETHER.
What caused their spouse to change their mind? Simple. 2 things. First,
they learned to create a space in their relationship for their spouse
to make a choice to change. Second, they showed their spouse, through
their EXAMPLE, how to make that choice and the impact it could have
on their marriage.
Very often one spouse will come to me for marriage coaching and ask
if it makes sense for them to be coached alone. The answer, is ABSOLUTELY
yes! One spouse can make more than a 50% difference in a marriage. And
that difference is often exactly what will get the other spouse to open
up to marriage coaching too.
"You can lead me a mile, but you can’t push me an inch."
bottom line...as Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you
wish to see..." It's YOU changing that has the greatest impact
EXPERIENCE of your marriage AND it's YOU changing that is the single
most important thing you can do to motivate your spouse to change.
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