Help - My Spouse Won't Change!
I wasted so much of my life waiting around for my husband to change. I actually tried several different tactics that I was secretly hoping would work and they never did.
I nagged. I got nothing.
I pretended that I didn’t care. I got nothing.
I yelled. I got nothing.
I gave him the silent treatment for days. I got nothing.
I cried… a lot. I got nothing.
I tried every which way to communicate that I was unhappy in our marriage and tried convincing him that if he started to change, then we could be happy. I spent so much time and energy trying to get his attention that I became a bitter and critical person along the way. I finally decided that enough was enough and gave up on trying to change him. It was useless and only making me more bitter. I came across this quote that hit me like a ton of bricks:
If you want to make a better marriage, start by making a better you.
I decided to spend some time working on my own issues because let’s face it… I had a lot of issues! I started making a list of all the things I wanted to work on…. the areas in my life that I actually had control over:
My communication skills
My physical appearance
My critical words
My control issues
… and the list goes on and on.
I started to go to counseling. I started to read books on self-discovery and communication. I surrounded myself with women who supported and challenged me in new ways. I started to work out and eat healthier. I learned a lot about my own triggers and insecurities so when my husband would do or say something mean, I didn’t fight back and I didn’t allow his toxic behavior to get to me. I began setting healthy boundaries in my marriage and also chose to forgive my husband, which might have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Over time, my eyes opened up and I began to see that our marriage was where it was because both of us had made mistakes. It wasn’t only my husband’s fault. I had a huge role in the demise of our marriage as well. With that recognition, I began to apologize for my mistakes which completely shocked my husband. (I can still remember his expression when I apologized for the first time for cussing him out!)
It was an entire year of investing in my own emotional health and there were a lot of blood, sweat and tears but they were worth it. Every penny spent, ever hour of processing my emotional baggage, and every minute of me responding with patience and understanding when I wanted to lash out was all worth it.
Eventually, my husband began to notice the change in me. I was a completely different person. I was more compassionate, confident, and followed through with my boundaries I had set. My counselor was right:
You can make a positive impact in your marriage by changing your words and actions.
It was a Friday afternoon when my husband broke down emotionally and said, “Whatever you have, whatever you’ve done, I want the same.” It was the moment I had been waiting for, when all of his pride and fear had been thrown out the window and he was ready to work on himself. My hard worked had paid off and we started a new chapter of our life together.
For the next few years, we spent a lot of time healing our marriage and focused on our own attitude, actions and words. Yes, years. Changing unhealthy habits and patterns takes time and a whole lot of patience.
Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.
We learned that it's better to be proactive rather than reactive, meaning that regular maintenance on your marriage when things are good is always smarter and cheaper than waiting until your marriage problems become huge!
I look back on the decision I made that in order to make a better marriage, I had to make a better me and knew that even if my husband never came around, or never admitted to seeing the changes in me, that I would never regret the work I had done on my own life.
I changed for me. I worked hard at healing for me. I let go of my control issues for me and I invite you to do the same thing.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck in a repetitive cycle and are ready to figure out what the next step for your marriage is, I encourage you to take our 4-week online course “Is My Marriage Worth Fighting For?” By the end of it, you’ll know exactly what you need to do next and HOW to do it. Are you ready? Take the leap! Isn’t it worth it to know for sure?