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If only my partner…

May 9, 2011
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A Great Idea …

“Too often, a marriage gets bogged down in ‘if onlies.’ If only your spouse were taller, richer, smarter, neater, or sexier, all of your problems would vanish. As long as this attitude prevails, conflicts will be very difficult to resolve. Until you accept your partner’s flaws and foibles, you will not be able to compromise successfully. Instead, you will be on a relentless campaign to alter your spouse. Conflict resolution is not about one person changing, it’s about negotiating, finding common ground and ways that you can accommodate each other.” (John Gottman, Ph.D., leading marriage researcher, in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. p. 185)

In Other Words …

When we wish or try to force our partner to change, we often get the opposite result. 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 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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