By Michael G. Rayel, MD
In my last particle, I stated the best way to change your partner is to change yourself. And I mentioned four practical ways to do it: know yourself, improve your communication, instill humor, and upgrade yourself.
But last week, one of my acquaintances complained that she had tried all my four suggestions but nothing worked.
“What should I do Mike?” she blurted in frustration. “How can I change him when I’ve already done everything to change myself? He treats me like I’m nothing.”
Let’s be real. It’s easier to change ourselves than to change others. But if we try to improve ourselves and our partners remain resistant to our good gestures, it’s about time to do something. Let’s discuss three practical ways to deal with it.
Ignore minor flaws
Nobody is perfect. All of us have some minor and major character and personality problems. Ignoring minor flaws may be the most reasonable way to cope as long as you’re not distressed.
For all you know, your partner has already ignored much of your own inadequacies; and has already accommodated them in his or her routine.
But some minor blemishes can be dealt with. If your partner snores and often wakes you up from your golden slumber, address the difficulty by getting a pair of earplugs from Wal-Mart. And try to sleep like a baby. If for instance your partner doesn’t consistently flush the toilet, either you ignore it or you put a huge signage (like the one you see inside public toilets) in every washroom so he or she won’t forget.
Accept major negative traits that can’t be changed
If a major character defect exists, either you help your partner correct it or you just accept it. After all, you’re supposed to love your partner — for better or for worse.
Some major negative traits that may be acceptable include being too disorganized or being too “clean” and organized; working long hours at the expense of quality family time; or taking many volunteer responsibilities. You can add your own list of acceptable and yet major problems in your partner.
However, there are some disturbing qualities that may not be acceptable to you including intense jealousy, abusive behavior (such as emotional, sexual, verbal, and physical), pathologic drinking and gambling, and chronic irresponsibility. With these troubling traits, I suggest that you should do something right away to help and protect yourself.
Once you’ve decided to ignore and accept your partner’s inadequacies, you have to move on. Dwelling on these unwanted defects and complaining about them may not necessarily be the best option especially if you want harmony in your home. Of course, you can try to change the course but you have to provide solid solutions and offer better choices for your partner.
Having said this, you may change your stance if you think that your partner is getting worse despite your patience and efforts. Professional help is just around the corner. Contact some therapists around town and convince your partner to join you in resolving issues.
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.