Today a man said to me, “My wife doesn’t like me to be like I was when she married me. She is always trying to remake me.”
There are lots of people that way. They married “for better or for worse” but they didn’t realize how bad that worse would be. When they find out, they immediately set out to remodel their mate.
This man didn’t like that. Few people do. Change has to come from the inside. It cannot be superimposed by someone else and we usually resent their trying. If you are having this problem in your marriage, remember these three things:
1. We have no right to marry with the intent of changing our partner. After all, it took them a lifetime to develop into what they are. It is neither right nor reasonable to expect a radical change. We should not marry until we are well acquainted. When we know a person well and marry, then we should accept our mates as they are—warts and all. After all, why should they change just to please us? We could change just as easily as they could. In fact it would be as easy for us to change and accept their behavior as it would be for them to change their behavior to suit us.
Also, many of our likes and dislikes do not involve matters of right or wrong. They are matters of preference. And we have no right to impose our preferences and prejudices on other people.
2. The best way to change a person is to change oneself first. If we really want to change someone we must find some way to motivate them to change. The most effective way is to change ourselves. If you want your spouse to be more loving, then show more love. Ordinarily in life and in marriage we get back what we give. If we show kindness and love, understanding and acceptance, then our mate will respond in the same way. If we cannot make someone want to change by changing the way we treat them, then we are probably doomed for failure. If we want to do any remodeling, we can start on ourselves. That’s a full-time job for most people.
3. Marriage takes a lot of acceptance. Accept your mate instead of trying to remake him or her. That’s the only way to marital happiness. Marriage partners must accept the great many things they do not like about their mates. All of us do things that are irritating to other people. No person is perfect. No two people are completely compatible. This means that we must accept some things about others that we do not like if we want to live happily with them. Another word for acceptance is “overlooking.” If we do not learn to overlook some things they do, we may find ourselves looking for another mate.