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How can I help my partner to change?

February 8, 2011

What Experts Say…

“People can change only if they feel they are basically liked and accepted as they are. When people feel criticized, disliked, and unappreciated they are unable to change. Instead, they feel under siege and dig in to protect themselves.” (Marriage researcher, John Gottman in his book, The Seven Principles for Making Your Marriage Work, p. 149)

In Other Words…

When we try to force our partner to change, we often get the opposite. They dig in their heels. If we want our partner to change, we must first value and cherish them. When we make our partner feel secure by accepting them, flaws and all, they just may try growing and changing.

How This Applies to You…

You can’t change your partner; you can only change yourself. Yet, even when your partner annoys you, you can change the way you think about their action. Rather than complain about his stubbornness, you can enjoy his determination. Rather than grumble about her nagging, you can be glad for her conscientiousness. This isn’t easy or automatic, but when you change your way of seeing your partner, you liberate a lot of goodness and connection.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read Why The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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