Chapter 7: The Dangers of Changing Your Spouse
Trying to Change Your Spouse is the Leading Cause of "EggShells"
Do you remember when you and your significant other first started talking to each other? Your relationship had just begun, and everything was new, fresh and exciting. You loved being around each other, and found yourself talking about "anything and everything", for hours on end. And it didn't matter what you did together, because you always had fun as you laughed, giggled and teased one another in a care-free and playful manner.
Then you moved into stage two where you started seriously dating. He spent long hours searching his mind and heart to find new and creative ways to make you feel special. And she felt full of love in her heart as you pursued her with a passion and enthusiasm that brought out her “Inner Princess”. And the more time you spent together, the more you started getting to know one another, discovering all the many "qualities" that caused you to be attracted to them in the first place. You even uncovered a few behaviors that made you stop and go ... “Hmmm”.
But you were in love, so anytime those little “Hmmm...warning signals” popped up, you quickly “swept them under the carpet”, knowing that now was not the time for “criticism leading to conflict”, but now was the time for “scoring points”, and making the other person “love us more”, so that we could potentially “seal the deal”, and lock in "a partner for life".
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Finally, on one Very Special Day, your life changes forever, as you decide to take the plunge, making a Life-Long Commitment, as “Husband and Wife”. And it’s at that point in time (The I-Do's), that something very “permanent” happens within your heart, as you realize that there are a few “warning signals”, that were swept under the carpet, that really need to have their "codes cleared” (that’s car talk - LOL). You contemplate in your mind that if you are ever going to find true happiness together with your new spouse, that you are going to have to have a few difficult conversations. Down deep inside you feel compelled to bring up some of the “little things” that have irritated you in the past, so that those "little things" don’t continue to grow, resulting in "big trouble" down the road.
The longer a person is single (before getting married), the longer that person has time to form those "certain ways of doing things" ... ways that they believe are "the only right way". I myself did not get married until the age of 37, and believe me when I finally tied the knot, I was certain that I knew how a marriage was supposed to "go down". I had a long list of all the "right ways" of how to live life as a husband and wife, and I was determined to "teach" my new bride how to be successful in marriage (Ha!). And right now, you're probably asking yourself, "is he still married, or is he even still alive?" ... and the answer of course is "Yes - but barely" (LOL).
So soon after we said our "I Do's", I felt the nudge in my heart, to clear up some of those "warning signal codes", that had been popping up in the past. There were a few "little things" that bothered me, and now that we had signed the paperwork to be "Married for the rest of our Lives ... To each other!" ... I decided that it was time to make some "Improvements in our marriage".
When we were first married, my wife and I lived together with our five children, in a three-bedroom house, and believe me, it was pretty cramped. My wife and I shared the Master Bedroom, which was the size of a normal bedroom, and we also shared the Master Bathroom, which had a grand total of "one" sink. Now in my bachelor days, I had very few possessions, and prided myself on how easily I could keep my home tidy.
But I soon learned that combining households with a beautiful, successful and very "girly-girl" woman, was a completely different ball game, than the one I was used to.
Quickly after moving in together, I realized that my wife seemed to have a bit more "possessions" than I did (in fact she had way more stuff). So in sharing our small bathroom I wanted to figure out where "her stuff" was going to go, and where "my stuff" was going to go. It was obvious that she should have more cabinet space, since she had more "beauty tools" than I did. But when it came to the bathroom sink "counter area", I kinda felt like I should have one side, and she should have the other. I also felt like our bathroom counter should be "tidied up" on a regular basis, just like I've always done in my many years as a single guy.
So long story short, it didn't take long for me to realize that my way of doing things, and her way of doing things, was not the same. My bathroom space seemed to keep shrinking, while her bathroom space seemed to keep getting larger and larger (it was a hostile take-over), so much to where I felt like "my half" ended up becoming "my sliver". And why did the counter have to be covered in all kinds of soaps, lotions, and powders? I just couldn't grasp it, my brain didn't compute. And yet, I wanted to be a loving husband, so after bringing it up a few times, I left it alone (I buried it).
And yet, I didn't "Leave it alone, Leave it alone". If that were the case I would have "whole heartily" accepted that it was "okay" for me to "not" have equal space on the bathroom counter, and that it was "okay" for her to have her various different beauty products all spread out, on the counter, for easy access. But I did let it bother me a little, because in my mind, it didn't seem fair. I was okay with her having more cabinet space, but I wasn't "fully okay", with what appeared to be (in my mind), "unnecessary clutter".
Wrapping It Up
Eventually I learned that I shouldn't try to "Fix and Improve" my wife. In fact, the more I tried to "Fix and Improve" her, the more she resisted, because she didn't want to change at all, she was fully happy and content with being the person she always has been (her ways worked for her). And don't get me wrong, there was a long list of "Fixing and Improving" that she had for me. And to be honest, I did need quite a few "upgrades", especially in the wardrobe department.
So I learned the hard way, that the best thing to do is to "accept" my wife for who she is, and not spend any more time and energy trying to change her, in the hopes that she might become more like me (doing things the right way = my way). What I was doing was I was creating an atmosphere where we were "Walking on Eggshells", to avoid the criticism that spawned from giving off "the vibe", that you wanted the other person to change.
And I also learned that if we could "both" get to a place where we "fully accepted each other", with all of our strengths and weaknesses (and quirky behaviors), that we could "get back" to the place where we once were at the beginning of our relationship ... when we laughed, giggled and joked with each other, and had the funnest of times, just ... being ... together.
Your homework for this chapter is to sit down "alone", and make a list of two or three of "the little things", that have bothered you about your spouse, or significant other, in the past.
Here is an example of a List
1. When he/she leaves clutter on our bathroom sink.
2. When he/she tries to "Micro-Manage" our Finances.
3. When he/she is late for appointments or meetings we have together.
Next, I want you to ask yourself these 3 questions ...
1. Was he/she like this when we first got together?
2. Could it be that this "little thing" about them that bothers me, is actually part of their personality, it's who they are as a person (in their DNA)?
3. Is it possible for me to simply and fully "let my irritation go"?
And let it go so much, to where I have "not only" accepted this "little thing about them", but I can also "fully embrace and celebrate", that this is one of the things that makes them "unique", it is one of the things that makes them "one of a kind".
Getting to a point where you can fully accept your partner for who they are (personality quirkiness and all), will begin to bring you back to the place in your relationship where "it was okay for you to be you".
You can get back to the place where you had fun together, where you enjoyed just being in each other's presence ... laughing, joking, being silly, and having the time of your life.