You know what needs to happen in your marriage for things to improve. If your husband would change then everything would be great in your marriage.
He just needs to
- Stop doing that
- Start doing this
- Do that right
But even though you’ve talked about it, and maybe he’s even agreed that he needs to change, these changes don’t happen.
If you agree to spend some time together, something more important comes up that means you can’t spend the time together
If your husband agrees to take on a task at home, it might happen for a few days. And then it slips and goes back to you doing everything.
Whatever changes need to happen they don’t. So nothing changes in your marriage. You carry on drifting along in a marriage that’s not working, but not changing.
Leaving you feeling stuck and hopeless. And powerless to do anything. Because if the change needs to come from your husband, then there’s nothing you can do.
It takes just one person to change a marriage
The thing is, it takes just one person to change to a marriage. And you can choose whether that person is you, or you wait for your husband.
That doesn’t mean that you’re letting your husband off the hook. Or that he can carry on as he always has while you make all the changes. It means that you make the first change. Take the first step.
Because what I see happening in marriages are patterns of repeating behaviour. And they go something like this
- Your husband forgets to do something
- You notice and do it
- The next time you see him you let him know he’s forgotten and that you’ve done it
- He says something in response, or perhaps says nothing
- You feel resentful and taken for granted
- You both walk away feeling upset
Now of course that pattern of behaviour could change at the first step with your husband remembering to do the thing. Or it could change at one of your steps. Because wherever there is a change what comes next will be different. The pattern will get broken. When you change what you do, he can change what he does. And your marriage will start to change.
3 steps to make changing in your marriage without waiting for your husband to change
So what I’d like to share with you are 3 steps to start making changes in your marriage without waiting for your husband to change
Step 1: decide that you’re going to the one who makes the changes
By making this commitment, you are choosing to change the part you play in the repeating patterns of behaviour which are happening in your marriage. You’re not going to do all the work in improving your marriage. You’re just making the first change and taking the first step.
Step 2 when something happens in your marriage that you don’t like, pause, and ask yourself ‘how can I respond differently?’
By taking that moment to pause, you are halting the repeating pattern of behaviour, giving you chance to choose whether you respond the way you always have done or whether you would like to respond in a different way.
Word of caution: When you start trying to do this, you will find that the first few times you don’t remember to pause as it’s happening. Or you remember you planned to pause after the event. This is completely normal. It will take a few practices to change the habit.
If you remember afterwards that it was you plan to pause and ask yourself ‘how can I respond differently?’, just ask yourself that question then. Look back at what happened and think about what you could have done differently. This will help you the next time the repeating pattern of behaviour happens.
Step 3 when he does or says something helpful, let him know
This could be saying thank you, or letting him know you’ve noticed, or telling him what a difference it makes. Just let him know you notice.
This is the most important step in making changes in a marriage. And the step that most often gets missed out. Which is sad, because this step is the one that makes change much more likely to happen. And for it to stick and the changes become permanent and part of how your marriage is. Because you get more of what you notice and pay attention to.
These 3 steps will help you to make changes in your marriage. Changes which will improve your marriage, so that you want to stay. And all without waiting for your husband to change.