Don’t Shoot Down His Attempts to Improve

Gary Thomas recently wrote The Bubble Busting Spouse, an article on people who make it difficult for their spouse to become a better husband or wife. The following sums it up well:

If your spouse is trying to grow, don’t hold her or him back by nailing them to the past. Acknowledge the growth. Don’t compare them to where you wish they would be, especially if your wish is a perfect spouse. Compare them to what they were, be thankful for the growth and encourage them.” ~ Gary Thomas

Don't Shoot Down His Attempts to Improve

I certainly understand why this happens. If he has tried (or pretended) to change something several times, there is little reason to think he will succeed this time. What’s more, you risk getting your hopes up and getting hurt again. 

However, consider the fact that most people who succeed at quitting smoking try a dozen or more times before they stop. I realise giving up smoking is more difficult than many things, but it shows that one can really want to change and still fail to accomplish it many times before getting it right.

If hubby says he’s going to change, don’t bet your future on it, but do thank him for his efforts and pray for the best. A positive reaction from you will improve his odds of succeeding, while a negative reaction will reduce the odds.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I don’t even want to think about how many times I failed to make some important marriage changes.

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12 Comments on “Don’t Shoot Down His Attempts to Improve

  1. I’ve always felt that if I realized I needed to change (hasn’t happened yet, I’m far too superior, but, you, know, theoretically…)

    Where was I, aside from admiring my own reflection? Ah, yes.

    If I realized I needed to change I wouldn’t broadcast the effort, and thereby set either and explicit standard or timeline. I’d do it on the quiet.

    The downside is, of course, that you have to wait for the change to be noticed, and be OK with the fact that it might never be acknowledged. If it’s gradual enough the New You may segue into Old Hat without a party, or even a smile.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 444 – Caregiver’s Shame (Barbara) {FMF}My Profile

    • Andrew-
      I so appreciate your Comments. You always express an unexpected twist on things. You are filled with philosophical wisdom and refreshing outlooks on the state of being human.
      Thank you for the smiles and concepts to ponder.

      I’m off to quietly ‘not bite my nails’ for a whole day and see if anyone notices :)

  2. My social circle did more to try to sabotage positive change than anyone else. They were the ones who didn’t want to hang out when I stopped eating chips and queso and guzzling margaritas. They were the ones who sneer when I bring a fruit or veggie tray to social gatherings. My wife doesn’t care if I get up early to run, she doesn’t care if I don’t eat sugar. She did get intimidated when I started hanging around more competitive people, but she was eventually absorbed into that world too.

  3. One thing I have learned is to take a step back and simply observe. When hubby started working on our marriage, I didn’t believe or trust him at first. But I certainly wasn’t going to sabotage his efforts. Of course I thanked him for things he did, but I also didn’t blow up when he failed. I was tempted to return to rock bottom, but simply took a time will tell approach. It hasn’t been and overnight turn around, but a gradual growth with many trips and slips.

    When I worked on my own change, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t do it for notice or accolades. I kept my expectations of othe4s reactions very low.

    Taking things too personally is a great damage-creator. I have experienced greater peace and growth in my marriage when I stopped expecting so much and taking everything princess-personally.

  4. When training animals, any movement or action in the direction of the wanted behavior is acknowledged and rewarded. After a time, the whole behavior will be performed with enthusiasm.

    Why do we as humans tend to ignore the ‘baby steps’ and look for those ‘giant leaps’ to become impressed or convinced that change is occurring?

  5. Americans are in a big hurry about almost everything. We want instant. My wife and I joke about the books we see in Christian book catalogs–spiritual change in a week, a month, 40 days. If change were easy and instant we would all be thin, fit, spiritual, well-educated, etc. I tell our church people that being persistent is what wins in the long-run. Don’t give up! Don’t quit! Ignore the naysayers!

  6. Encourage his baby steps toward improvement. Breaking bad habits is hard, and generally can take a straight line to over-coming.

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