If you can’t Change Your Marriage, Change the way you think About It 

There are problems within the marriage that are meant to be solved. Then, there are other problems that are not going to be fixed. These sorts of problems may be differences in values or beliefs, or may be personality differences. Just because these aren’t likely to change doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed.

Instead, you have choices about how you respond to these problems. You can change the way you think about them. Changing how you think about problems will change how you feel about the marriage. Learning to change the way you think can mean the difference between a happy, satisfying marriage and divorce. Changing how you think about a problem requires some extra effort, but it can drastically improve your relationship.

Problems You Can Change

Every marriage experiences conflict and obstacles. When one or both partners work to make change, many problems can be overcome. Although it may take hard work and commitment, many problems can be solved and the marriage can even grow stronger by resolving these issues.

Examples of problems that can be solved include disagreements over money, parenting interventions, household chores, and sex. A couple can learn to work on managing anger and resolving conflict about a variety of issues. These sorts of problems are often short-term, but some may be an ongoing issue that is a work in progress.

These sorts of problems can be solved in several different ways. A couple can learn new skills so they are better able to communicate, manage anger, and solve problems.

Another way problems can be solved is if one partner changes their behaviors. Many problems only require one person to make a change. For example, if a couple gets into frequent heated disputes, one partner can learn to walk away and end the discussion until both of them feel calmer.

Problems that can’t be Changed

There are certain problems within a marriage that just can’t be changed. For example, if you and your spouse have different religious beliefs, your differences aren’t a problem to be solved. Differences in core values aren’t something that needs to be “fixed.” Instead, it just means you have different beliefs and there is no need for either of you to give up your beliefs.

Another time that a problem isn’t going to change is when your partner has a personality different from yours. If you invest too much energy into changing something about your partner when your partner isn’t interested in making a change, you will only cause more problems. For example, if your spouse enjoys working 12 hour days and you wish he was home earlier, you aren’t likely to change him if he doesn’t want to change. You could try asking, begging, pleading, threatening, and guilt trips but these may make your marriage worse in the long run if your partner isn’t interested.

You do have control over how you think about your partner, however. If you are viewing your partner as a non-caring jerk who prefers spending time at the office instead of at home, you may feel very unsatisfied in your marriage. However, if you were to change this to start trying to view your partner as a good provider who values hard work, it can help you appreciate his work ethic.

Change How You View the Problem

If you can’t change the problem, consider changing how you view the problem. If you change how you think, it can change your attitude and offer you a completely different outlook on your marriage. If you begin to view your marriage in a more positive light, it can change how you treat your partner, help you feel happier, and improve the quality of your interactions.

For example, if your spouse does not care as much about a clean house as you do, you have some choices in how you view the situation. You can think of your spouse as “a slob” or as someone who doesn’t care about you because he doesn’t clean the house. Or you can re-frame it and think about your spouse as someone who values relaxing more than cleaning.

Changing your view of the problem may require some acceptance. Instead of trying to change the problem or “fix” your partner, it means that you can accept and love your partner as is. Then, it requires you to look at the situation with a fresh outlook.

Ask yourself, “Is there another way to look at this problem?” It’s likely that there are several different ways to view the problem. So, try to look outside of your current view. A new outlook can help you spend less energy trying to fix an unsolvable problem. It can allow you to relax and put more energy into having a better marriage, even if the problem continues.




2 Responses to “If you can’t Change Your Marriage, Change the way you think About It”

  1. I love the idea you present here of choosing a different more positive way of thinking about your relationship, when the behavior or situation can’t be changed.

    As the great therapist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl once said:

    “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

    And this growth space exists in our relationships too!

  2. My wife and I have been married for 15 years. We knew each other since college. We are now facing serious problems, and every small matter is being blown up into something big, by both of us. My wife has given up a lot for me, while i am quite self centered. We are 2 separate individual types, and i have just realized this. For me, i am the most important person…selfish in one word. For my wife, my happiness was most important. I have been taking her for granted. I want to change, however every time i have to give up something, my inherent nature of ‘me first’ comes up and creates a bitterness. i want to save my marriage, as i still care for my wife a lot. I don’t really think i know what love is. Can you help me?

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