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How to Get Your Spouse to Change

How to get your spouse to change

How to get your spouse to changeI just said that to get your attention.

You know you can’t change your spouse (or anybody else for that matter.) BUT, I would like to talk with you about being miserable and feeling unloved because you have tried to explain to your spouse about how you would like him/her to show you love, and how (s)he should meet your needs-to no avail, I’m guessing. What makes it worse is when you read blogs and magazines and books that seem to indicate there really is a way to solve a certain problem that has caused you no end of pain and frustration. You may start wondering if there is something wrong with you, or your spouse, or if God could be punishing you. You may start wondering if your situation is really hopeless, and you should just give up.

Don’t give up.

Typically when we feel unloved, we try to get our spouse to make us feel loved by various methods – perhaps by doing special things for us, or by telling us in a certain way, or by showing more physical affection. (You may have even read about the five love languages, and have asked your spouse to read it too.) When your spouse still does not do what you have asked, you believe that (s)he knows what to do (after all, you explained it very clearly and probably numerous times!) but has chosen not to do it because (s)he doesn’t really love you. What other explanation could there be?

I understand your pain, and I do not wish to be insensitive, but I would like to show you a different perspective. In this scenario, love is defined as getting what you want the way you want to get it. So, your spouse in a way is objectified –(s)he is there to “meet your needs.” (S)he is not seen as a separate person from yourself. Try changing the thought “I want what I want” to “I gratefully receive and acknowledge your love for me.” Your spouse may or may not ever learn to speak your love language, but (s)he may be trying to show love for you in a way you haven’t seen – because you have been looking for something different. Think of it this way: you make dinner for your child and (s)he cries because you didn’t fix fish sticks and (s)he wanted fish sticks! That poor child is so frustrated, even when you have made a very good dinner for him/her. (S)he is having trouble receiving the dinner, which you know (s)he would enjoy if (s)he could just calm down. We are all like that frustrated child in some way.

We need to stop focusing so much on achieving what we want (or even what we need) and look around to see what is already there for us to enjoy.

We all want to feel loved. Try to calm down as much as possible. Accept your need for love and accept that your spouse is a different person. Now, start telling yourself that even though your spouse won’t _______ (fill in the blank), you are loved. You are deeply loved. No matter what it looks like from the outside, you are loved. Now, take a look around and just observe without evaluating as much as possible. Your spouse took out the trash. No that’s not what you asked for, but could that be his/her way of showing you love? Your spouse is patting your back. No that’s not what you wanted, but could that be your spouse showing you (s)he loves you?