“Will he change after we get married?” I have heard this question time after time as a counselor, coach and pastor. Most of the time, I can’t answer relationship questions definitively but in this case I can.
My response, “I guarantee he will change. Moreover, I guarantee that you will too. The relationship you have right now has changed since you walked in here. Scary, huh?” William Pollard wrote, “To change is difficult. Not to change is fatal.” So the real question is, do you want your relationship to change or would you rather it die? Here are some strategies that will help you deal with the inevitable changes that will occur in your relationship.
#1: Start seeing your relationship as a bus trip with a lot of stops rather than a station - follow me here. Relationships are always moving from one point to another. They’re never in the station; they’re never static. You want your relationship moving to a new place all the time. Don’t spend your time and effort trying to return to some ideal past relationship place where in hindsight things were ‘perfect.’ Remember that back during that time, you wanted things to change. Get comfortable with the idea that things are different today than they were yesterday and they’ll be different tomorrow than they are today.
#2: Understand that in a relationship, the easiest person to change is you. Most people show up at my office because they want me to change someone that probably didn’t even come to the session. It is possible to change someone else; however, it is much easier to change yourself. Work to respond to your significant other rather than react to him/her. What’s the difference between responding and reacting?
A reaction is most often driven by emotions. A response is driven by a considered plan. Here’s an example of a wife who is annoyed with her husband because every time she leaves the house, he asks when she will be back (even though she’s asked him not to do this):
Reaction – “I’m grown and I don’t need you keeping track of my every move!”
After this argument, maybe he’ll get it. He didn’t get it after the last five fights but this will be the one.
Response – He cares about me and if I don’t make it back by then or call he’s going to send out the troops! It feels good to have someone care so much about me that he wants to have me back. I don’t know exactly when I’ll be back but I’ll give him a hug and tell him in about two hours.
It sounds like you’re just giving in - maybe you are. You’re giving in to peace that you both need rather than a battle that you don’t.
#3: Learn to just live with some things. My grandmother told me once, “Baby, there are some fights that are worth fighting even if you lose. There are other fights that ain’t worth fighting even if you win.” Think back and ask yourself, have you been spending your time in fights that don’t really matter even if you eventually win? We can spend years warring against our significant other just to save face or because we believe we need to win. But if I’m the ‘winner’ in the relationship, what does that make my significant other? Come on, you can connect those dots. I’ve learned to ease up on my ego and just learn to live with some things. It has given me more peace.
So, let’s review.
- Start seeing your relationship as a bus trip with a lot of stops rather than a station. Get comfortable with the idea that things will keep changing. Get comfortable and enjoy the ride!
- Understand that in a relationship, the easiest person to change is you. Work to respond to your significant other rather than react to him/her.
- And finally, learn to just live with some things. It will give you more peace.
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