By Michael G. Rayel, MD
“Something is wrong with my husband Doc. I don’t know how to change him. He’s annoying. Is there any way I can change him?”
In my practice, I’ve met many people trying to change their partners for whatever reason. They want their partners to change their attitude, their style of communication, their personality. They want others to change to satisfy their longing for peace and comfort, for happiness and everlasting bliss.
Can you change your partner and let him or her be the best partner you’ve ever had? Is it possible to change one’s character or individuality?
Changing another person is like trying to change the weather. It’s tough.
The best way to change your partner is to change yourself. I know you will feel helpless and uncomfortable with this idea. But short of separation or moving on, there’s no other way.
How do you change so your partner will hopefully change as well?
What are the most important values you hold dear? What principles have guided your life all these years? What triggers your sensitivity and what hurt you? What makes you feel happy? To stand firm in this earth, you have to know who you are.
And let your partner know your strengths and vulnerabilities, your wants and frustrations, your likes and dislikes right from the outset. Such awareness will determine the relationship you’ll have. The only way you can set boundaries and recognize your limits is by knowing yourself.
Improve your communication
Be pleasant around your partner. Communicate with the goal of making your partner feel good. Avoid annoying conversations that can only precipitate arguments and nasty exchange. Say no without feeling guilty. You deserve to say no just as you are entitled to say yes. But say no in a nice way.
To avoid surprises, let your partner know your expectations about chores, family rules, and boundaries. Be frank. Don’t send mixed messages. Just say exactly what you want to say but be pleasing along the way.
Laughter remains the best medicine. It’s great for your health and relationships. Introduce humor often if you want your partner to stay with you and long for your presence. Make your partner laugh. Talk about happy times. In the evenings, watch TV shows or movies that lighten your hearts.
During an argument, find ways to laugh at yourself. Accept your mistakes with humor and a smile. You will notice that tension will ease gradually after you acknowledge your own limits.
Help yourself get better daily. Take evening or online courses and gain new skills. Learn to play the piano or flute. During your free time, involve in worthwhile activities. How about courses in sewing, crocheting, or photography? Join community organizations that support your values and beliefs.
Expand your horizon. Meet new people and face new, different challenges. Let yourself grow while you nurture your relationships. A mature partner will appreciate your efforts and will not feel insecure.
Dr. Michael G. Rayel — author, game inventor, and psychiatrist — has created the Oikos Game Series to promote emotional health and A 31-Day Series to help kids and teens. Since 2005, he has published Oikos’ Insights! www.oikosinsights.com as an online resource for personal development. Visit www.oikosglobal.com for more info. Also, he has offered psychiatry board review for ABPN II. Visit www.psychedu.com for details.