It’s time to stop putting the onus on the man to change.
Let me preface this by stating that I don’t mean to be gender biased, but I do find that some women bring their men to therapy as a means to change him.
In my practice, I have seen clients come so far and change so much. But we can only change to an extent. Our behaviours, perceptions and feelings can change, but the core of who we are usually stays the same.
I have had clients bring their men to therapy with the expectation that he will change. They often want him to be more loving, compassionate and communicative. Frequently, the man they want to change is the very same man they married.
The question I ask women who bring their men to therapy is “Was he this way when you married him?”
And the answer is usually “yes.”
To that I will say, “So you met a man and he was a certain way, and you married him. And now [however many years later] you want him to change. Yet he is who he was when you married him.”
It’s like taking a pair of shoes back to the retailer after you’ve been wearing them for 10 years when you were aware of the size and style when you bought them.
Often, clients want their partners to change to be more like them. We naturally xanax want to be with people who are like us. To help my clients understand why their partners can’t completely change, I use this analogy:
Imagine that he’s a square, and you’re a circle. You want to make him into a circle to be more like you. So I turn to you and say, “He isn’t a circle. He’s a square. You married a square.” And you say, “Yes, but please, make him a circle.”
In response, I say, “We can round his edges, but he will always be a square with round edges. He will never be a circle, because he’s a square.”
People are who they are. They can’t change on a whim to make someone else happy. For the man to change his behaviour, the woman has to change her behaviour too. It takes the man rounding his edges, and acceptance, compassion and understanding from the wife. They have to meet each other half way to create lasting, meaningful change.
I tell my clients to practice acceptance, compassion and understanding of their partner. When we don’t practice this, we loose patience. We blame the other person for our own unhappiness and for our needs being unmet. And sometimes, the marriage falls apart.
Acceptance, compassion and understanding can help us remember why we chose our partner. It can remind us what makes our relationship wonderful.