How changing yourself will change your spouse
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All to often we commit to someone thinking we can “fix” the things we don’t like about them. Or perhaps you think you can overlook those things that irk you. Then one day, we ‘re focused more on the habits we don’t like that we end up losing sight of all the reasons we fell in love in the first place.
Years have passed, the honeymoon phase is over and suddenly you find yourself trying to change your spouse. Does this mean you’ve fallen out of love? How could I not have preconceived that one day I would be different and so would he?
Before my wedding, my dad gave me one very specific piece of advice. He said “you can’t change people, no matter how hard you try”. Of course at 20 years old, I shrugged it off. Why on earth would I try to change the man I love and was set to marry?
I never knew that this would be such valuable advice. I now know, exactly what he meant.
Ways we try to change our spouse
Have you ever shopped for the wardrobe you want your spouse to wear, even though it isn’t his style? Or asked him to dress a certain way or not to wear his “old” favorite sweater. Let’s be honest, most of us have.
But, there are more pressing matters than clothing.
What about his health or exercise routines? Hounding him about his diet? Making not-so-kind comments about his trip to get fast food.
Have you found yourself asking him to drink less or drink more? To be more social or less social? Criticized his hobbies or friends?
Do you find yourself wanting him to handle others or situations as you see fit? Or dictating his future goals? Criticizing his leadership in your home?
I’ve learned, as a wife, we are not their mama and we certainly are not the Holy Spirit. We are not to control our spouses or dictate their lives for them. We are called to walk beside our spouse in love, respect, support and encouragement.
When a spouse behaves in such a way that causes the other spouse to feel like they can’t be who they are, then there is a problem. This is the exact warning my dad gave me years ago and he was right.
What I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t give our spouse our perspective, offer suggestions or advice and not express that something they do bothers us. I in fact endorse honest, healthy communication.
But when it turns into nagging him like he’s your child (although that may not be your intention) this doesn’t respect him.
“A nagging wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm. Stopping her is like trying to stop the wind. It’s like trying to grab olive oil with your hand.” Proverbs 27:15-16
The problem with trying to change your spouse
Trying to change your spouse cause some separation in your relationship. It could cause your spouse to feel as though he isn’t what you want. If someone was trying to change you, wouldn’t you feel less than good enough for that person?
Some years ago I finally accepted the fact that I was trying to make my husband more like me. I wanted him to think the same way I thought and feel the same way I felt. I came to the realization that I was trying to control him.
I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t allowing him the room he needed to be himself. Harsh.
Although we probably saw eye to eye on most things early in marriage. What I failed to realize then was that as we got older we would change.
I am not him and he is not me, we are two individuals with different thoughts & perspectives. We even have some different needs, wants and desires in life.
The ironic thing about this is that I love him for the ways he is different than me because some of our differences compliment one another. But I’ve still found myself trying to change him in some areas and looking back, I feel so bad about that.
“When we “force” others to do something, that we want – that doesn’t produce real change because they’re not being true to themselves. Lasting change is produced when a person decides for themselves that they want to change in any specific area of their life.“
Change yourself you say?
When I realized I was trying to change my spouse, it was time for me to look inward to evaluate my motive.
I would find myself frustrated at our differences and that’s no way to live.
When I shifted my focus to myself and allowed him to be who he is things started to change in an unexpected way.
Ultimately, what I learned is that we could either grow together or we would certainly grow apart.
Growing together means, accepting one another for who they are and who they are becoming. Just as we mature at different stages, we will also continue to evolve throughout of lives.
We want to be everything our spouse needs and as those needs are expressed, we should take action. But don’t get tripped up over that fine line of expressing a need or desire and trying to change someone.
I learned to love unconditionally. Part of loving unconditionally is accepting someone for who they are and not trying to change them to be someone they are not.
I have to respect my husband and not shut him down or try to change him when what he wants differs from me.
No, I certainly haven’t fallen out of love with my husband. I love him more today than I did 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that loving him doesn’t involve work.
I don’t always feel patient and kind. So you see, to love takes some work.
Click here for free 1 Corinthians 13 Printable!
How changing yourself will change your spouse
When people feel loved and respected, they react in a much different way. They are more open to pleasing you and want to offer you the same value you extend to them.
As I changed, to implement a healthier response, not only did it change the way I viewed him, but he responded through changing as well.
Here are the steps I took that resulted not only in changing myself, but also, my husband.
Sometimes, change can start with you. How we act, affects those around us, in negative or positive ways. Check your motives and reset if necessary.
Love is the source of everything good. Love is our foundation of life and God’s Will for our lives. Love is so deep. I never truly knew what love was until I read the bible. But guess what, love isn’t always a feeling. Often times, love can be reflected by our actions. A beautiful description of love is found in the bible verse 1 Corinthians 13. I strongly encourage you to read it.
Make it a point to thank him for everything he does for you and your household. Let him know all the wonderful ways he contributes to your family and appreciate him in those things. Don’t let anything he does go unnoticed.
Support him in everything. Don’t forget those words you said at the altar “til death do us part”. There’s a difference between encouraging him to be his best self and changing him to be someone he is not. Encourage him in all the things he’s good at. I guarantee he will want to do those things more.
It’s so important to pray for your husband. Allow God to be your advocate in praying over your spouse. I offer this prayer:
Heavenly Father, I lift up my spouse to you today in thanks for who he is to our family and who He is in you. I pray for everything he puts his hands to, that you would bless him. I pray for the Holy Spirit to convict him in any area of his life that isn’t conducive to your Will. I ask that your Spirit would keep him honorable and of good character. I bind the enemy over his life in the name of Jesus. My hope and my trust is in you, Amen.
The Holy Spirit is our helper. Read more about the Holy Spirit here.
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