Sometimes a person’s desire to get their spouse to change becomes detrimental to the relationship. There are times that it makes sense to simply accept your spouse for who he is at this present time. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up hope that things will ever be different. Instead, it means that for today, you’ll accept your spouse’s characteristics, habits, and behaviors.
Acceptance does not mean that you have to accept being treated poorly or unjustly. There are situations and behaviors that just may be unacceptable and you may want to address them in other ways. However, there may be some other behaviors and personality characteristics that you see in your partner that you decide to just simply accept.
Accept Your Spouse For Who He/She Is
Acceptance requires you to take a look at what you have control over and what you don’t have control over. People often want their spouse to be different and they try to force their spouse to change. You can’t force your spouse to change just because that is what you want.
When people don’t accept their spouse’s behaviors, it can cause them to use a variety of tactics to force their spouse to change. Nagging and complaining are two common tactics. This tends to lead to increased arguments and resentment.
Don’t Become A Saboteur
Sometimes people become passive-aggressive, where they secretly try to sabotage their spouse’s efforts. For example, a husband who doesn’t want his wife to go out to dinner with her friends tells her he doesn’t feel well so she will stay home. Passive-aggressive behaviors are a way to use indirect communication to try and get your needs met, but it is not usually effective.
Other times, people become demanding. They may try ultimatums repeatedly. They say, “If you don’t do this, then I won’t do that.” Sometimes people threaten to withhold sex or money. Other times they threaten to leave. If you can’t tolerate a particular behavior, threatening repeatedly is not likely to make that behavior change.
There are other ways people deal with the distress caused by their partner’s behaviors as well. Some people vent to their friends and complain about their partner. Other people avoid their partner and become withdrawn. Sometimes they even resign that their marriage is bad and their partner doesn’t care.
You Don’t Have To Like Your Partner’s Behaviors
Accepting your partner’s behaviors does not mean you have to like them. It just means that you can see that it is happening right now. It doesn’t mean you have to give up hope for the future.
For example, Ann thought her husband David was a slob. He didn’t clean up after himself. She did all the cooking, dishes, and laundry. She felt frustrated and even felt unloved because he didn’t seem to pitch in. She tried nagging him but that lead to arguments. She threatened him with a variety of things. Sometimes she said if he didn’t pitch in, she would hire someone to clean, knowing that this would make him angry. She sometimes yelled at him and even begged him to clean up around the house.
None of Ann’s efforts seemed to work. David seemed content to watch television in the evenings and didn’t care that the house was messy. If Ann could learn to accept David’s behaviors, it would require her to re-frame how she envisioned him. Instead of thinking, “he’s a lazy slob who doesn’t care enough about me to help clean the house,” she could think, “Cleaning the house isn’t as important to David as it is to me today.”
Her efforts to motivate him to clean were not helping. So by accepting that he is not likely to help her clean today, she may find that she is able to devote more of her own energy into cleaning, which is important to her, rather than wasting her energy trying to convince David to change. She might find that this frees up more of her time and she and David may be able to spend some quality time together, rather than spending time yelling and begging him to help her clean. Although she might not like it, she could recognize that as of right now, David isn’t interested in helping her clean the house.
You Don’t Have To Change Your Spouse To Accept Him/Her
People often try to get their spouse to change their habits with cleaning, money, eating or sleeping. People sometimes try to convince their partner to change their values or beliefs in life. Sometimes it is more important to accept your partner for who he or she is now without being judgmental about how you think things should be different.