How To Get Your Spouse To Change

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help save marriageIn your quest to fix your marriage, you may encounter resistance–from your spouse!

Your spouse may dwell on the 101 reasons why “this just won’t work for us” and blame you for every one.

Or, your spouse may be emotionally “checked-out” of the marriage and not care about your efforts to improve the situation or be willing to extend any
effort of their own.

This is, by far, the most common question people ask me: “How do I get my spouse to change?

Why would your spouse resist POSITIVE change in your marriage and what should you do about it?

Hi, I’m Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness.

There’s a deep-seeded belief in our culture that people resist change, no matter what. But is this true? Do people really want things to remain status quo? Do we really not want things to change? If you look closely at human nature, it’s not change itself we resist; it’s change that’s IMPOSED UPON US.

Think about it. We have no problem with change that WE INITIATE ourselves. But when we feel forced or manipulated to change, then we resist WITH ALL OUR MIGHT.

Your spouse may not be willing to change for the sake of your marriage right now, but that’s not because your spouse doesn’t want a great marriage. Everyone wants a great marriage. It’s because if they’re going to change, they want the change to be THEIR IDEA!!!!!!

I promise you; your spouse will decide to change when they’re ready to change and not one second before. And the more you push them, urge them, nudge them, ask them, scream at them, or beg them, the LESS LIKELY they are to change. I know it’s hard to wait, but you have to let it come from them.

It’s possible someone could INSPIRE your spouse to change, but the person LEAST LIKELY to be the inspiration is YOU. It’s sad but true. A complete stranger is more likely to get through to your spouse than you are. A chance experience or encounter is more likely to shake up your spouse than anything YOU could do.

Mary Ellen (name changed) came to me for marriage coaching. She knew she had to make changes and came to our sessions with a genuine interest to improve her marriage. She wanted Tom (her husband) to be part of the process, but he wasn’t willing to join her. She had been asking him to go with her to get help for over a year. But Tom consistently refused.

I met with Mary Ellen twice and convinced her to back-off Tom and just let him be for a while. I counseled her to make some changes that created a more positive energy in their relationship. When the time was right, I suggested that Mary Ellen ask Tom is he would be willing to speak with ME
for 10 minutes. Mary Ellen’s timing was good. Tom agreed.

Within 7 minutes of my conversation with Tom he agreed to join Mary Ellen in the marriage coaching sessions.

Why was I able to get Tom to agree to something in 7 minutes that Mary Ellen couldn’t get him to do in over a year? It’s true I know how to handle these situations, but there were 2 other important factors:

1. For the first time in over a year, Mary Ellen backed-off far enough so that Tom had the space to make his own choice.

2. The inspiration came from someone other than his wife.

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I can’t tell you how times a spouse will say to me that their husband/wife changed for a few days, but then returned to their old ways. That’s because they never really decided to change. They were pressured. They were manipulated. And so it didn’t stick.

If you tell your spouse what to do; it’s a challenge. If THEY decide to do it; it’s a great idea. YOU HAVE TO LET IT COME FROM THEM. That’s the only way it’ll make a difference long term in your marriage.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Makes sense, but isn’t there anything I can do to encourage my spouse’s choice?” YES, there is! YOU CAN BE AN INSPIRING EXAMPLE and let your spouse see how the choices YOU’RE making impact how YOU feel about yourself and your marriage.

Resist the urge to believe that your marriage won’t change until your spouse “gets with the program.” The love YOU feel is much more a result of what YOU DO for your marriage than what your spouse does for it.

We tend to think that the love in our marriage is in our spouse’s hands. But it’s not. Love is a verb. And if we do it–if we love–then we feel love. THE CHOICE IS OURS.

Consider the love you feel for your children. Is it because of everything they do for you? Is it because they’re such angels? Of course not. The love you feel for your children is a result of what YOU DO FOR THEM. The love you feel in your marriage is a result of what YOU DO too. Furthermore, there’s no better way to inspire your spouse to make the choice to change than to make that choice yourself.

It happens quite often that one spouse will register for the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp in the “Lone Ranger” track and then half way through the program they will switch to the “Duo” track which is designed for couples participating TOGETHER. What caused their spouse to change their mind? Simple. 2 things.

First, they learned to create a space in their relationship for their spouse to make a choice to change.

Second, they showed their spouse, through their EXAMPLE, how to make that choice and the impact it could have on their marriage.

Very often one spouse will come to me for marriage coaching and ask if it makes sense for them to be coached alone. The answer, is ABSOLUTELY yes! One spouse can make more than a 50% difference in a marriage. And that difference is often exactly what will get the other spouse to open up to marriage coaching too.

You can lead me a mile, but you can’t push me an inch.”

So, bottom line…as Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see…” It’s YOU changing that has the greatest impact on YOUR EXPERIENCE of your marriage AND it’s YOU changing that is the single most important thing you can do to motivate your spouse to change.

If you’re ready to learn what changes you need to make in your marriage and if you want to learn how to inspire your spouse to begin to make changes too, then subscribe to my FREE breakthrough report “7 Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” and get a FREE marriage assessment too. CLICK HERE to subscribe. It’s FREE.

Warm regards,
Mort Fertel
Author of Marriage Fitness
Marriage Coach


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6 thoughts on “How To Get Your Spouse To Change

  1. This was very interesting and it made sense but what if your spouse decides he likes the changed you and that is all that needs changing. He lets you do all the changing thinking you have finally come around to his way of thinking. It doesn’t work unless they both are willing to change, inevitably the one that changed is going to be resentful.

  2. I thought that people who decide to get married are already used to compromising with one another. Unless a married couple went through a whirl wind romance and got married on a spur of the moment, shouldn’t they already have plenty of practice living with each other and compromising as well?

  3. Most people think “talking” and “communicating” are the same thing. Yet they are different. For those who learn to truly communicate, the rewards are great, financially and personally. I truly believe that those rewards are real and well within YOUR grasp right now, regardless of your age, education, background, or job. No matter how strong you are in other areas, if you are a weak communicator, you can’t expect to be successful in a relationship.

  4. My wife and I have this problem in our marriage, she is all the time trying to change me and make me what she wants but she won’t change at all. I think a relationship like a marriage should be 50-50 if one spouse expects the other to change then they should change. I have seen other couple break up because of this and I don’t want that to happen to us.

  5. I have come to learn from my own experience that compromising is very much like setting boundaries, or drafting an agreement or honoring a commitment. These are basic skills for life in general and are important skills for a successful relationship with co-workers, friends and also love relationships. Needless to say, without the willingness and ability to compromise, your work, friendship and committed relationships can be at risk for failure.

  6. Whenever you negotiate with a spouse or colleague, I was told that it pays to stay calm. Everyone spends some time haggling, whether it is with customers, suppliers, investors, or your spouse. You may have a trick or twosome magic phrases to say, perhapsthat can help you gain the upper hand. But, often, the moment you get into trouble in a negotiation is when something careless just slips out.

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