Just for fun, Google this question: “Can I change my spouse?"
Brace yourself. There are more than 5,000,000 results. And what’s the most popular answer?
“Don’t try to change your spouse.”
It’s the most parroted slice of marital advice since Adam and Eve said, “I do.”
It sounds snazzy on the surface, doesn’t it? “Change yourself and all will be well!”
That’s not marital advice. That’s a bumper sticker at a couples’ retreat.
I fell victim, too. During the early part of my 20-year marriage, whenever my wife shared any advice or constructive criticism, the natural man in my head whispered that maybe I just wasn’t good enough.
But through two decades together, I've learned that what she really wants is exactly what I want. She doesn’t want a new me; she just wants me to a better version of the “me” that I already am.
Like all couples, my wife and I witness layers of goodness in each other that only we - through marriage - are able to see. It’s one of the great miracles of matrimony.
She knows my talents, tests, strengths and weaknesses like nobody but the Heavenly Father who created us in the first place.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I'm glad my wife is trying to change me; because she knows just how great I could be if I had the same confidence in myself that she has in me.
I want her to change, too. Not because she isn’t good enough already - she’s magnificent - but because I recognize potential in her that goes beyond this life and into the next.
If your relationship is sometimes out-of-tune (no marriage is without an off-key note every few bars), make a list of your spouse’s many loveable attributes. Odds are the things you appreciated when you first married are still standing right in front of you.
Focus like a laser on your partner’s positives. Then, help them find ways to magnify those attributes until they’re so large, there’s nothing else left.
Use praise to crowd out the negative.
Identify the good, isolate it, protect it, and feed it until it’s all they are.
Quit worrying about trying to change what you think is broken. Help them change what’s good into something even better.
Is your wife good with people?
Encourage her. Help her grow those skills into even greater self-confidence.
If your husband handy around the house?
Encourage him. Praise him for doing what many cannot. Invite him to use his talents to bless neighbors and strangers.
Remind your partner in life, love and trials that you are their number one cheerleader. Let them know that because you love God and them, in that order, you want them to change – for good.
Can you change your spouse?
Yes, no matter what Google tells you.
Jason Wright is a New York Times bestselling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and his latest, "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, applevalleybarndance.com or jasonfwright.com
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