I recently told the men over on The Generous Husband YOU Can Change Your Marriage. This was a rehash of an old post prompted by a “testimonial” to the power of what I had suggested: “I am convinced that if either spouse works steadily on their marriage, there is a better than 95% chance they will see a significant improvement within a year.”
I realise it’s a radical claim, and I can’t back it with empirical evidence. However, I’ve seen it, as have others who work with marriages. If either spouse gets serious about their own stuff and doing what they should do to fix the marriage, wonderful things happen.
My suggestion for doing this is simple – be nicer, be more generous, and give more grace. You don’t have to be perfect; you can completely blow it at times and it will still work. Yes, it really is simple – but it’s not easy! It requires a lot of hard work. It requires dealing with your pride, fear, selfishness, and a host of other ugly things. It means letting go of what you see as your rights while focusing on what your husband wants and needs.
I know, you think he’ll just take all you give and do nothing in return. A few men will, but not nearly as many as you think, and the only way to know is to try. Even if you do it and it fails you will have learned something and you will be in a better position to push him for change.
There are two caveats when it’s the wife giving this a try.
- I believe women are more likely to respond to this than men. Because women are more relational they are more easily drawn into their husband’s efforts to improve the relationship. Because men tend to stuff emotions we are more likely to live with something we hate or put up with it a lot longer. This can make us less desperate for change, even when we hate how things are. I still think the vast majority of men will respond, but not as fast a most women would.
- If sex is a big issue to him, you must include changes to your sex life in this process. If you fix everything else but fail to meet his reasonable sexual expectations he won’t see change where he most needs it.
If you want a better marriage, I suggest you stop waiting for your husband to get on board and start doing what you can now. Work on your issues, and your past. Look at the places where you’re not as kind and loving as you could be. Work to give grace and generosity regardless of what he does. Do this for all of next year and your odds of having a better marriage next Christmas are strong. Keep going as you have been, and the best you can hope for in a year is “It’s not any worse than it was.”
~ Paul – I’m XY and I pray for each of you to have a better marriage.
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