More than any other thing we know, the effort to change for your partner or to get your partner to change for you is frustrating and can lead to trouble very quickly. We all know that changing some of our behaviors and habits can help make our marriages better. Also, despite all the things we’ve been taught about not trying to change our partners, we try to do it anyway.
But can your partner really change for you?
According to some new research by Northwestern University professors Hui, Bond, and Molden, your partner can change for you, but whether their (or your) efforts mean anything depends on you.
According to the study of 123 married couples, the more you believe your partner is able to change and trying to improve less than desirable behaviors, the more secure and happy you will feel in your relationship. Apparently, his is true even if you feel they aren’t done working on it.
The secret to building a happy relationship is to embrace the idea that your partner can change,” says Molden, “to give him or her credit for making these types of efforts and to resist blaming him or her for not trying hard enough all of the time.”
As the article explains,
those efforts only work if the other person sees the effort, appreciates it, and believes that their partner is capable of the change.”
All of us are working on something to make our partners happier.
You may be trying to remember to stay on top of bill payments, your spouse may be working on his habit of being sarcastic to you in public or maybe you’re trying to stop smoking. Regardless of what the behavior or habit is, it’s really important that the one doing the changing knows that the other one believes in them, sees that they’re trying and appreciates the progress they’re making, no matter how small.
Giving your partner credit for trying may not only make them more successful, but make you happier in the meantime. So next time your husband forgets to call when he’ll be late, thank him for (and remind yourself of) the 87 times he did.