I knew the title would catch your attention!
And, I am sure you already know that you can’t actually change your man, but you can start to make a powerful shift in your relationship within as little as a few days, if you follow the advice I am about to give you.
It might just inspire him to change!
I have worked with women who are in unhappy and unfulfilled marriages, feeling unclear if they want to stay in their relationships, and have lost sight of what they want.
I get emails from women who want to come to counselling to work on their marriage, but their partner doesn’t want to. “Is there any point to me coming in on my own?” they ask.
I give them the same advice I am about to give you.
You can’t change your man, or anyone else for that matter, all you can do is focus on changing, healing and empowering yourself, and in turn, possibly inspire (or eventually require) your partner to follow suit. Look to the things that trigger and annoy you in your partner, as an indicator where you need to grow yourself.
Here is the honest to goodness truth. I was that wife. I spent a lot of time feeling unhappy, and for a long time I was totally convinced it was all because of my husband, that he was the only reason for my unhappiness.
I also believed that the only way out of this unhappiness was to go our separate ways – many times.
But 15 years later, here we are, still working through the bumps, struggles and challenges. This is what marriage is about. If you believe marriage should always be happy, and all roses (and if it’s not then you need to run far, far away) the first step is accepting that conflict is not the enemy. It’s what we do, and how we handle the conflict, hurts, disappointments and frustrations that matters.
Assuming there is no emotional or physical abuse taking place, know that you should do all that you can to work through the current challenges in your relationship, because they will follow you to the next like a shadow.
It is human nature to want to run away from things that make us uncomfortable or cause us to feel pain.
We can run but we can’t hide from the work. What we run from now will show up in another area, or another relationship- if we run from the lessons and opportunity for growth and learning here and now, it will keep showing up as a reoccurring theme in our life.
Nothing ever goes away until we have learned the lessons we are meant to learn. It is all part of the journey.
After a lot of suffering, personal reflection, freakin’ hard work and more suffering, I reached a point where I realized that blaming my husband (or anything or anyone else) for my unhappiness was a lie I was telling myself to avoid taking responsibility for my own life and happiness!
We really do create our own happiness. If we rely on anything external to us for our happiness, we will be forever screwed, and riding an emotional roller-coaster- allowing what is happening around us to dictate our mood and how we feel.
From that turning point forward, it has been a journey of continually learning, discovering myself, and what makes me happy, fulfilled and excited. Whatever my husband was doing or not doing (that I believed he shouldn’t be doing or not doing) would no longer be my reason or excuse to feel like crap, or keeping myself stuck.
When I find myself going there, wanting to change or fix him, I now bring the attention back to myself, and inquire within. I get curious about what is my issue to resolve within myself, or something I need to address with self-awareness and clarity.
I need to get clear on what the issue is, and then communicate this to him in a very clear, and conscious way. I focus on my growth, my fulfillment, keep my cup full, and leave his end up to him. It is so much easier this way let me tell you!
Trying to change ourselves is hard enough, trying to change two people is exhausting, and no fun at all.
I’m not going to sugarcoat things here, this did not happen overnight, and this process is ongoing. It is hard work to take this path, and takes heaps of determination and courage to not bury our head in the sand and pretend all is well, when it’s not. This was not an easy shift to make. But I knew in my heart it was a necessary one, and one I am constantly deepening and refining as I go along.
It is a life lesson, that there is no one we have the power to change except ourselves, and even that can feel like a full-time job!
Think of it like this: If you are someone who is already a pretty self-aware, growth oriented person, you know what I mean when I say growth, healing and change is not easy work. And this is even when you are self- motivated and determined to do the work to NOT stay stuck in your own muck!
How impossible would it be to change if you really didn’t care about growth, personal mastery, learning, and self-reflection, and just wanted to carry on pretending all is well, and had no desire to learn about yourself, and why you do the things you do? Pretty impossible, right?
You absolutely have to want it so badly that you will do anything within your power to change.
So, with that said, you are clear now that you can not change him, and it is necessary to let go of the desire to change him, and leave his work up to him, yes? Now what?
I’ve got some tips for you that will help you, and if all goes well, will help him as well. It is also important to accept the truth that whatever he is doing, or not doing that is not working for you, may never change. It will only change when he decides to jump on board and do the work with you on the marriage, and on himself. If this doesn’t happen then you may have a decision to make. But lets not get too ahead of ourselves. There is much you can do here to get to clarity, and it all begins with you.
Tips to Shift your Relationship:
#1) This is the BIG one: Put the focus back on you. See friends, take a class, take a workshop, join a womens support group, book an appointment with a therapist to talk out your confusion, read books, nurture yourself, triple dose your self- care. When something happens that upsets you, go off on your own and process how you are feeling rather than reacting. I work 1:1 with women who are new to this idea of focusing on themselves as a path to healing and growth who are struggling in their relationship. It is really effective to have support from someone who understands that can guide you through this new territory. It is important to find a therapist that you feel can help you.
#2) Stop trying to fix him, rescue him, change him, nag him, asking him to change. Just bring yourself back to #1 every single time you start to go into those habitual behaviors.
If the kids are all tucked in, and you finally have some time alone together and all he wants to do is watch t.v. you can decide to join him, or go off and do something just for yourself. Rather than nagging or asking him for connection time or just getting angry (if this is what you would typically do) you are changing the pattern. This alone creates a shift in the relationship dynamic, that will begin to take effect in many miraculous ways.
#3) Do something different: as noted in #2, notice and witness yourself, and how you typically react or respond to certain things your partner does. If it is something that tends to create that old icky feeling pattern of going around in circles, and just leaves you feeling badly, try on a different response or behavior.
Become aware and awake. Aware of your emotions, awake to your bodily sensations, where you feel the conflict, sadness, upset or worry. Our bodies are always a barometer for our emotions. We literally feel our emotions in our physical body, but many of us are completely tuned -out and shut down.
When we become too ‘other’ focused, we lose sight of what we truly want, need and feel, because we have abandoned ourselves. Often times this happens in a marriage, but can happen in any relationship.
Now is your time to come back to yourself. I promise you, it will change things in ways you will be amazed by!
So, assuming this resonates, and makes sense to you, and you had a few “AHA!” moments while pondering this – wherever you are at in your relationship -perhaps you are ready to roll up your sleeves, and get to work – on yourself.
You can’t force him to do anything. You are responsible for you. Just do you. And if you try to control him, you will only become more frustrated and resentful.
If you would like to work with me individually, you can contact me to set up your initial 15 minute phone consultation.
Investing in yourself, it is the smartest investment we can ever make, and often the one we value the least. Our mental, emotional health matters big time, and will always affect our physical health to some degree. Living in a marriage that isn’t working, and is causing stress will affect the health and well-being of both partners. You have to take care of yourself first. Ideally both people in the relationship are doing this for themselves – but it all starts with you because you are the one reading this! I wish you well as you embark on this new way of being.
Integrative Counselling Therapy that works!