When you were first attracted to your partner, of course you were delighted with everything about him or her. But as the years go on, it’s unusual to stay totally delighted with every aspect of the person that you love.
So if there are things about your partner that really bug you, and you deeply hope that they will change, then, you need to know that there are three possible outcomes.
Some things about your partner will never change
Deep-level personality… talents… sexual preferences… deep-rooted beliefs and values. These elements are so much part of your partner’s nature that they’ll almost certainly never alter. So don’t even try. Learn to live with these facets of your partner – and if you really can’t do that, learn to live without your partner.
Some things about your partner will change given time and maturity
The laugh-a-minute guy in his early twenties may – if his attitude is down to youth and the people he hangs out with – become a responsible sober citizen in his early thirties. The self-absorbed girl in her early thirties may – once she realises that love means thinking of other people – become a wonderful partner and mother.
Fact is, everyone changes, automatically, because of their life experiences, the people they meet, the things they do. So if the something that bugs you seems to be linked with your partner’s stage in life, waiting it out may sort it out.
Some things about your partner will change because of what you do
Some things about your partner you can change – but not in the way you probably think. Your partner won’t change if you nag, or blame, or throw a tantrum every time they do something wrong. Your partner will either dig their heels in – or they’ll seem to toe the line but secretly dig their heels in anyway.
In fact, the fact that you’re nagging, blaming, and tantrumming will probably mean that your partner does things more – not intentionally, but just because human beings tend to do more of what they get attention for, even if that attention is negative rather than positive.
But your partner will change if they want to, and if you support them to.
And if they do want to change, then these four guidelines – ironically, they’re based on advice from an Army Teaching Manual – will help you offer that support.
1: If you tell someone what to do, they will mysteriously forget.
2: If you show someone what you want them to do – by doing it yourself, for their benefit – then they’ll start to understand why you’re asking.
3: If someone does what you want them to do – even just one time – they’ll develop the capacity to do it again.
4: If you show someone that when they do what you want them to do, that makes you happy, they’ll do it for ever.
If you’d like support because you’re feeling less than happy with your partner, please email and tell me about it. If I feel I could help, we can arrange for an initial coaching session to explore how we would work together. I’d love to hear from you.