My younger less wise self wanted my husband to change things about himself. My more mature and slightly wiser self wants to support his growth and help bring out the best in him. Looking back, I realize that the more I focused on things that I wanted him to change, the less I focused on my own areas for potential growth. It was much easier for me to see his flaws, what he was doing wrong, and what he could change than to take a look at myself and see those same things within myself.
I think there’s a difference between change and growth.
When you want someone to change, you want them to become something they aren’t. When you want someone to grow, you want them to become a better version of who they are.
Change involves training yourself to become something different. Growth is learning the lessons in our life that help make us better. I’m not saying there’s not a time and place for change, but who wants to be forced to change? When do the requests for change stop? If they manage to change something about themselves, will that fix the problem and satisfy you? How many changes are they from being the person you fell in love with in the first place? How will those changes impact your relationship? How many changes would it be before they were a completely different person? What is that greater insight to? What does the change you desire in them reveal about you? Is there anything you can learn from it?
We all go through periods of growth, some last longer than others and the timing may be different for each of us. The areas of growth are different as are the lessons themselves. Some people actively seek to grow while others do so as an unexpected result of life experience. It can be frustrating to grow and learn at a different pace and different rates, but that’s part of the process of life. Some people are more vocal about the areas they’d like their partner to grow in. If you’re regularly highlighting the areas your partner can change or grow in, are you able to focus as clearly on your own areas for growth? Have you considered what areas your partner might suggest you have room to grow in?
Change and growth alike are hard, they both take dedication and consistency. It’s hard enough to change yourself and impossible to change someone else. If someone thrust an unsolicited change upon you, how would you feel? If that change were further imposed with an ultimatum, what would your attitude towards making that change be like? If your partner never makes the changes you’re looking for them to, how would that impact your relationship? Are you willing to remain committed to them in spite of that? Are you willing to accept them as they are and support them without pressure? If your partner acknowledges the change or growth needs to take place, how can you be supportive of the process they need to go through to make that happen?
I’ve personally realized how much the focus on my husband to change was also a way of me assigning the blame and responsibility away. I dissolved myself of the responsibility and accountability of any issues in our relationship because of course if he would change that would take care of the problem. It was an easier pill for me to swallow but the reality is I had plenty to work on myself. I’ve been doing the work to become a better version of myself and I find that I’m more accepting. Of course I want the best for my husband, I want him to grow and evolve but I’m also able to accept him for who he is. I also realize that who he is today isn’t who he’s going to be in five years just as he’s not the same version of himself that he was nine years ago when we met.
Whenever I’m tempted to bring something to his attention that he could change, I breakdown why I want him to change it, what that change will do, and if the change is for me or him. By getting clear on those things, I can identify the room for my own growth and evaluate how much I contribute to the aspect I desire change in. I also understand if it’s an opportunity for his growth and I can approach him from a different place. Instead of pushing an unsolicited change on him, I can bring something to his attention that he can work at should he choose to. I’m not extorting him; I’m going to love, support and accept him either way. I’m offering feedback with room for improvement that he can decide what to do with. This comes from a non-threatening place where future of my relationship doesn’t depend on it and I’m not waiting for a day that may never come and being resentful about it in the meantime.
I asked a ton of questions in the post which I don’t typically do. The floor is open for conversation, feel free to share your thoughts, answer any of the questions asked or just let me know what you think! I’ve love to hear from you on this!