It only takes one person to change a marriage for the better. If your partner isn’t ready to be that person, then that person needs to be you.
This can be a bitter pill to swallow.
When it comes to change and personal growth, how much, when, where, and even whether our partners choose to change is actually their business, not ours. Pouring your own limited energy into blaming, demanding, criticizing, and complaining about what your partner should or shouldn’t be doing, their flaws, and how they never actually listen to you will get you nowhere faster than a toupee in a hurricane.
Focusing on your partner as the problem will rapidly reinforce their experience of you as a threat. This will cause them to shore up their defenses and buckle down in survival mode. At the same time, it will extend your own unhelpful self-righteousness. The higher you go on that soap box, the harder you fall in relationship. Self-righteousness is intoxicating. It’s hard to let it go because it feels good to believe you’re right, and then invest all your energy and intelligence into proving why you’re right. But recognizing that you contribute just as much to your relationships problems as your partner is what will empower you to create the marriage you want. You can change you.
Radical change in a relationship begins with gathering up all the energy you invest in making your partner the problem and re-purposing it for your own awakening. However cold, flawed, or disappointing you find your partner’s behaviors, however frustrated or lonely you feel, you can always look at your contribution and step into a more empowered place. This process requires a delicate balance of self-compassion, determination and curiosity. What will you discover? Ask yourself, why did I choose to marry this person? How have they helped me recreate familiar dynamics from my earliest years? How is this a healing opportunity? How am I failing to give myself precisely what I’m demanding they give me? These questions are starting points to deeper self-awareness.
We know what courage is: In Susan Jeffers’ (or are they Oprah Winfrey’s?) words, it’s “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” In a marriage, courage carries with it the risk of losing our favorite kinds of personal leverage: withdrawing love, subtle judgement, our sense of injury, our sense of entitlement. Cultivating a marriage worth having requires relinquishing the all-too-human need for power and control while learning to trust, be vulnerable and court a deeper, more expansive truth than the one our ego wants us to wholeheartedly defend and believe in.
It’s a risk because there’s no guarantee things will go the way we want even when we do change. But it’s worth the reward: connection to our own aliveness, to our partner, and to the world beyond.
You may also like by Alicia Muñoz
What’s Next at The Good Men Project? Talk with others. Improve your relationships. Join our Love, Sex, Etc. Social Interest Group
Join the Sex, Love Etc. FACEBOOK GROUP here.
We are proud of our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to discuss, gain insights, build communities— and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join now!
Join The Good Men Project Community
All levels get to view The Good Men Project site AD-FREE. The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission, and have a great ad-free viewing experience.
Register New Account
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request new password if needed).
ANNUAL PLATINUM membership ($50 per year) includes:
1. AN ALL ACCESS PASS — Join ANY and ALL of our weekly calls, Social Interest Groups, classes, workshops and private Facebook groups. We have at least one group phone call or online class every day of the week.
2. See the website with no ads when logged in!
3. MEMBER commenting badge.
ANNUAL GOLD membership ($25 per year) includes all the benefits above — but only ONE Weekly Social Interest Group and ONE class.
ANNUAL BRONZE membership ($12 per year) is great if you are not ready to join the full conversation but want to support our mission anyway. You’ll still get a BRONZE commenting badge, and you can pop into any of our weekly Friday Calls with the Publisher when you have time (Friday calls only). This is for people who believe—like we do—that this conversation about men and changing roles and goodness in the 21st century is one of the most important conversations you can have today.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
Photo from Pixabay.