Is it fair to expect change from someone in marriage?
We all know we aren't suppose to change people, but is it wrong to expect them to evolve into the relationship as much as you do? Everyone changes a little when they marry(or live together) simply because you are combining 2 personalities in one home, but what if one person never really evolves into having to think about the other partner? Is it fair to ever expect change? At what point is demanding a change ok?
People rarely change, even if they evolve. That's why you choose someone who you already like, not someone that you could like.
Otherwise you're just wasting both of your time.
I have been seeing much on this topic, lately. I am slightly amused at many comments that arise from such questions. First of all, it's a good point to bring up the question. However, many of these I have seen come from the people in the situation themselves. They expect one thing or another from someone they decided to marry a year ago or forty years ago.
Time doesn't help a relationship alone. The two people in the relationship are responsible for making it work. I believe the two people in the relationship should outline before getting married, what exactly they expect from one another before the two wed.
Marriage today is just a word to some people. Many have lost perspective of the term. Marriage is not a union, it is not a binding agreement, marriage is not a thing people in love do. Marriage is each of these and more.
Marriage is telling the person you are wedded to and the word that you will forever and always have the same feelings you did when you said "I Do" and actually holding truth to those words.
Marriage is biblical, holy and unconditional. When I said "I Do", I meant that I would always love her. Not only love from my heart. I meant I would love from the depths of my soul. A love similar to the agape God has for us. If a person is contemplating marriage, they should ask themselves, "can I really be with this person for the rest of my life and love them unconditionally?"
There is no doubt many people feel they love a person when they get married. The "change" is the problem with couples today. They feel if they fall out of love with the person, they will just divorce them and re marry someone else.
With a biblical marriage, the two are bound in one with God. There is no room for another person. If a person loves their spouse and the relationship is built on Godly principles, they can better communicate to one another their feelings. When the foundation is solid, the house can be strong. A house is not built over night and sometimes the drapes get dusty. When the house needs cleaning, clean it. There is no reason a couple cannot work a marriage built on biblical principles unless an immoral act has invaded the marriage.
When immoral acts invade the marriage, God is distant from it. God wants a clean vessel. Clean the house of the immoral and God will work on the rest.
My answer is that a person should not expect change without searching themselves first. If that person has imperfections, they can't expect the other to change.
Peeples.....I don't know if it's so much about actually "changing" as it is about compromise, tolerance & understanding, give & take and simply putting forth the EFFORT because we love someone.
I'm sure you follow me, but in other words, because we "should" know one another really well prior to saying "I do"....which also means "I WILL." we have an expectation that based on our commitment to one another (& our children) we can and will come to feasible, comfortable agreements.
No 2 people will ever agree on everything. But we can all bend a little now and then for the sake of a loved one. We can all sacrifice a bit for harmony.
Demanding change? Not a good idea nor have I personally ever known this to be successful in a relationship (marriage). Please know that I'm speaking of the basic, normal things in life.....not the bizarre or crazy. That's another discussion altogether.
Anyway....so as not to leave one of my long-winded comments...that's my 2 cents for what it's worth.
If you'd prefer an answer without religious overtones as this question has nothing to do with that, I would suggest that it is not wrong to expect your partner (or anyone) to grow as a person, both individually and within the relationship. That is far different than trying to "change someone into what you want them to be rather than accept them as they are" ... and is more about wanting to evolve together as a team with two strong individuals that compose it and work cooperatively with one another.
Compromise can be difficult, especially if one partner is feeling the other is not "hearing" them or valuing their opinions, or respecting their needs. Perhaps this is more of a communications problem and you could approach it from that aspect. If a partner never thinks of the other partner, what has happened that has allowed this person to take their partner for granted?
Perhaps gently point out those things. An example might be "I understand you are busy and tired when you come home. I am happy to do the laundry, but it would help me out if you could just make sure your dirty clothes hit the laundry room"... simplistic, but it shows your partner that you understand where he's coming from and states exactly what you need and what your expectations are. It is reasonable and two sided.
If he doesn't listen to that - then by all means it is not unfair to make a "reasonable" demand that your partner respects your needs. A marriage is a two way street - and requires participation and sometimes concessions, by both people.
Yep, that's right. Marriage is just a contract. If the two do not like each other, they can just move on and marry someone else. If this is the case, why get married?
my answer said nothing of the sort. I never suggested she just move on and marry someone else. try reading what I actually said - thanks.
In the beginning of your response, you wrote "without religious overtones". This indicates a hint of rejection of a biblical marriage. If person who truly believes in a marriage based on biblical principle, there is no ultimatum. Can you elaborate?
Marriage is not a religious institution for many of us. She didn't ask about "biblical marriage" People often turn every Q&A here into a pulpit when it's not asked for. I take my non-religious marriage very seriously so do many others.
I'm atheist Jew married to Christian, Maybe that is why Christin replied the way she did (correct me if I'm wrong). I respect your view, value my marriage but I look at our marriage outside of what the bible says.
E Matt Howerton, People get married because they believe they have found "the one". In some instances there was an unplanned pregnancy, they were tired of being single, all their friends were married, or an ultimatum was given.
Most were in love
It is actually partially the reason Peeples and for others who are in marriages that are not based on religion as well. I wasn't intending to start a debate, just pointing out a different perspective - no offense intended.
No harm no foul here. I will also state, for the record, I love my religious overture marriage and wouldn't trade it for a non biblical one. I tend to forget that the world rejects it's creator and doesn't want to hear of any relation to Him.
Peeples I did not know the context of your relationship when I commented but it does not change my answer. I will say this however, your being an atheist and him being a Christian may be at the core of your problems. You and he are like oil and water
We actually are the perfect pair, not oil and water a bit. It wasn't even a serious thing that caused the question, simply he likes to stay in more, I like to go out more, we have kids, so we NEED to go out more for their sake, but he's homebody.
I see. Well then carry on. I hope things evolve into a better situation.
I believe (expecting) generally leads to frustration and disappointment especially when it comes to anything outside of ourselves.
Having said that there is no "neutral" in relationships.
We're either "growing together" or "growing apart" as couples.
What was great at age 22 may not be what we consider ideal at age 30 or 40. And yet because (we) changed does not mean the other person is obligated to change.
Generally speaking people only change when (they) are unhappy with the results they are getting in life. It's not unusual for people to grow apart because they want different things. In fact the person (who didn't change) may feel like they are the victim of a "bait & switch".
From their point of view when they got with you both of you were on the same page and then (you) changed!
They committed based upon who you (were).
There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships. We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them as (is) or move on.
Very few people are walking around with one hand raised in the air screaming: "I'm looking for someone to change me!"
Most people want to be loved and appreciated for who (they are).
One old adage is: "Men marry women hoping they will never change and women marry men hoping they will change over time."
I suspect to some degree both are being unrealistic!
The short answer to your question is "Yes, it is fair to expect the other person to change and evolve into the relationship." Whether in or out of a relationship people naturally change or evolve. In their thinking, in their actions, in their view of life they change. So it goes without saying they will change over time and being in a relationship has nothing to do with that. And yes they should evolve into the relationship. People as a whole evolve in other relationships. In their jobs, with their families, with their friends they evolve. They change. They adjust. So why not in a relationship? All relationships are fluid. They change direction and sometimes purpose. Why would an intimate relationship be any different? Throughout life we make adjustments to our living environments to improve them. A romantic relationship is a living environment so why wouldn't change and evolution be part of it as well? As we grow, gain knowledge and understanding we become aware of the need to make adjustments in our lives and actions. The same should hold true for a relationship. Anyone who has the same attitude and perspective in a relationship after being in it for months or years is stunted in their overall growth and probably is a candidate for counseling or dismissal.
Unfortunately I don't think it's ever about change but more about evolving and compromising. It's also about understanding that no one is perfect and everyone is going to have some sort of flaw that gets to you, however it is unfair for someone to do all of the compromising on their own and it is unfair for one to be evolving in the marriage while the other is staying stagnant. If you have reached a point where there is no compromise, there is no communication, it may be a good idea to search for some help, whether that comes from another trusted couple, a religious affiliation, or a marriage counselor is up to the both of you!
I'm starting my 40th year of marriage. It's been up and down. We both are surprised we are still together. I wouldn't say I've changed him and he wouldn't say he's changed me. But each one of us has changed ourselves over the years. It has been through making the choice to change from time to time that has saved our marriage. He couldn't force me any more than I could force him. But when something threatened us, we both made the changes necessary for the marriage to survive.
Not every marriage can be saved. Some are so tortured that the only viable choice is to start over without that spouse. My daughter had a marriage like that. And I'm glad she got herself out of it.
All that doesn't sound very romantic, does it? They don't make movies or write songs about making those choices. But that's real life. That's marriage.
It is unfair to expect the change you expect, that is, to expect Joe (to give "someone" a name) to live up to your expectations and act the part of the man of your dreams rather than be himself. Everyone changes, for better or worse or simply because of aging. That is going to happen. Expecting a partner to be the person you have a hankering for him to be is likely to be frustrating because resisted, whether you want him to change more or less. A person of integrity will change in their own way at their own pace by doing their best to live up to their own ideals, which may or may not be yours. Like, he might strive to be a better provider while she longs for more attention that makes her feel cherished. Or whatever.
A person without much integrity will change according to external circumstances and personal vices.
Either way, if you are expecting someone to change to meet your expectations, impatience, resentment and criticism may backfire, with Joe feeling belittled and despised as he is. Positive reinforcement--expressing sincere delight and appreciation when Joe does something right--has a chance of having some effect on getting Joe to shape himself to your liking, if it matches the person he wants to become and if he isn't treated like garbage for not always abiding by the rules in your head about the way someone should behave.
Soon after our marriage, I learned that my wife was different than I thought. Then I learned that she was different from what I thought I had learned. Then I learned that, as an enneagram 7, change is her only constant. She has never shown the slightest inclination to correct her huge, glaring flaws or to apply herself to becoming a master at her talents and abilities. Her changes--in careers, in lifestyles, in interests, in locations, in friends, in religion, and more--have been determined by what she wants herself to be and become, not by my expectations of what she should be like. Years ago we almost parted and even lived apart for a few months. Now we still enjoy each other's company after 20.5 years of marriage because she gave up expecting me to be not me and I gave up expecting her to be not her, and we each learned to appreciate ther other's quite imperfectly doing hir best.
Google and read the Fritz Perls quote that begins, "I am not in this world to live up to your expectations."
Compromise is essential in a successful marriage. Me becomes we. How did your partner regard the two of you before you tied the knot? If one partner is more willing to act as a team than the other, perhaps counseling is in order. If the marriage is a constant struggle that feeds resentment, it's time to take a good look at the relationship and the long term effects. I actually divorced my second husband because he didn't consider us a team. At least he didn't show it. As a result, I grew to resent him and that overshadowed the love that brought us together. That wasn't what I wanted and needed out of the union, so I severed the ties.
Thanks all. I assure everyone if there was something seriously wrong in my marriage there is NO way I would be posting about it here. The issue is minor sort of, maybe serious for his well being, but not serious against our relationship. My husband is horribly anti social (to the point I think he needs counseling). He doesn't want to go anywhere around my friends and won't make friends for himself. I'm concerned about him and want to kind of tell him he has no choice but to get out and at least go to some get togethers for the sake of himself and the kids having him there. I am anti social, but once you have kids you have to think about that kind of thing. I know of a few couples with kids where the husband would likely be someone he would like, but he gets social anxiety just talking about going. So I am to a point of demanding he either see a counselor or make an attempt to get out and around people to over come his issue. I think counseling would be the best option. He was not like this when we got together. He was anti social like I am, but not this extreme. We have talked about it a lot, but he doesn't see the problems in his isolation as much as I do. He often seems to take what I say seriously, but there is never any change.
Thank you all for your answers.
I think it's unrealistic and unfair to expect a specific change in someone rather than committing to nurture positive change in someone and hoping he'll develop healthier attitudes with your support.
From your other comments, it's social anxiety you're thinking of expecting or demanding your spouse fix somehow. Making demands or setting ultimatums will likely make social anxiety worse. In my opinion, using guilt as a motivator is also likely to make things worse rather than better.
Therapy would likely be a big help. I've found therapy to be a big help for my anxiety as do many. I think you'll both be fine so long as you keep it firmly in mind that it's a medical issue that requires healing rather than a character flaw that requires fixing. I'm sure he's a smart guy and will understand it if you approach it as the health issue that it is. It'll probably take him some time to work his confidence up to trying therapy.
Here's something I worked out for myself that has proven a huge help with my social anxiety. Ask him to work out whose opinions really matter to him. He doesn't need to share that list with you, but ask him to cut it back to the truly important people in his life, people with whom he shares mutual love. For me, I've cut mine down to three people, me, my partner, and my best friend. If I start to feel anxious about what people might think about me or about some faux pas I may have made, I remember those three important people. I remind myself of the wonderful realization that they love me and don't really give a flying fig if those other people have a bad opinion of me.
Even self-directed art therapy or writing therapy might help him. Anxiety sucks from both the inside and the outside of it. It's like a sticky black hole that hangs onto self-doubt and replays it endlessly. I hope you both find healing and greater happiness.
This is the issue, he KNOWS it's a medical issue, but refuses to get help. Which is why I feel at some point I am going to make it clear that it is unacceptable to shut himself off from the entire world. I have anxiety, so I get it. I worry about him
If he's Christian, maybe you could get a foot in the door by suggesting he find a church to go to? Helping him get out for something social even just once a week might help him stop having as many feelings of agoraphobia or social anxiety.
Marriage does actually entail a bigger compromise from both parties. However, I for one am against marrying someone that does not show that level of compromise already. As a divorce lawyer, I have seen several cases in which people married and expected that this would somehow change their partner's (or their own) behavior, and would lead them to a more stable and responsible relationship. This never happens.
Marriage by itself will not change a person's behavior or outlook in life. Marriage is not a cause of responsibility and compromise, but a consequence of it. Marriage only changes legal obligations, but never causes changes of behavior by itself.
I never claim to be knowledgeable on relationship matters. If experience is a good teacher, I've been married a few decades. It's been my experience that two people change no matter what. I've never expected my wife to change. There are things about her that make me crazy, but over time I've come to accept them. I accept her the way she is and always has been. She does the same with me. We're not the same as we were when we got married so long ago. I expect the two of us will change going into the future. I guess being together means more to us than changing one another. I wonder, if you expect someone to change to suit you, if you're really with the right person.
What a very important question in life. That strange no man's land between letting live and let live and personal empowerment. In that I am a man of no small amount of personality quirks I can very confidently say that it is never ok to demand change. Not that you are not entitled to change it is just that demanding it is a loser concept from the starting gate. We folks with our personality disorders do not take orders. A good spouse must be more sneaky devious and conniving than that kind of frontal assault. One must devise a carrot as the stick will break long before the desired results occur.
Your comment specifies your problem as one of some kind of fear. I am antisocial. So I get it. I have never overcome it. But the fear of being without any friends at all keeps me from going totally hermit.In my experience there is almost always a bit of agoraphobia mixed in with antisocial.
I think my big impetus in getting out and sociable will always be my children. I just don't want to miss out and I for sure do not want them to miss out. A fully positive spin and focus on the doing things with them rather than just going out hopefully will have at least a partially satisfactory result.
Any relationship or marriage needs compromise to survive. Sometimes you need to change in order to compromise. The thing is to discuss how far each of you are willing to go in every situation. People should not have to change who they are ever, but change occurs when you connect yourself with another person. It is not fair to expect it, but discussing what is wrong may lead to compromise and fix the situation.
No, it's not fair, not ethical and not right..! If you(I mean in general) are expecting one to change, then you are making an artificial or masked man. Be natural and be good..!
First thing we have to accept what and how is the partner and both must have trust and understandings. Two different views may some time need other partner should understand and decide about what changing his/her excepting. Yes, changes are expected as per the needs.
It is always reasonable to make a sincere request of our spouses. In this case, you would be doing so out of love and concern for your husband. There is no question that medication and (good) counseling can help him tremendously. At this point, it is a question of getting him to even consider the idea of seeking help from a professional......I don't know that you can force him. Personally, I would pray ardently for him to be open. However, from what I know of you, that is not at all your thing, In any event, you are in your right to make this important request from him, just as he makes requests from you. I hope it all turns out well. I guess I am concerned that he might get worse....but it doesn't have to be that way. Best of luck. It is obvious that you want what is best for your husband.
Expecting someone to change is not outrageously unfair, but the problem is that it may never happen, specially when the person in question is very rigid. So it is not really a matter of fair or unfair. It is simply much easier to go for a more flexible person who will be willing to adjust and rectify himself or herself for the sake of their partner.
Of course it is common for most people to change a little when they are living with someone else, but that is not the case with everyone. If one knowingly gets into a marriage with an extremely self-absorbed and narcissistic person, expecting that person to change is pointless (no offence meant).
There are those moderately selfish people who can be coaxed into changing gradually, and then there are those who are beyond repair. It is best to not expect ANY change from the second category, because they are psychologically incapable of feeling consideration towards others.
You can count on change, but you cannot be the one to make your partner change.
I married my husband 32 years ago and did not expect him to change. We both changed and all I know for sure is. What pleased me 30 years ago would not please me now. and what pleases me now would not have pleased me 30 years ago.
I feel (and I think he does also) that we have evolved into one person.
We started out as friends then remained friends after we became lovers and remained friends after we became husband and wife.
No everything is not perfect but as near as two people can get.
There is no tomorrow without change. The choice to change, or the extent of change is my choice. Its your choice. But the option of changing? Its the nucleus of tomorrow. Without the ability to change, the quality of life is non-existent. What if you were paralyzed? would you be able to change? the answer is yes. If you will not, or cannot change, then life is over. In relationship, if you, or your partner won't change, then it is over. capice.
I think we all change all the time. If you focus on one part of someone else you will miss what is happening in the other parts. That's what happens when relationships end unexpectedly: we weren't aware of the change, we weren't connected. The only person we can change is ourselves and that has more power than we can imagine. I think focusing on another is a convenient way to avoid looking at what you need to do for yourself...and I speak from experience x
You can't change a basic personality type without problems for both people. However, each person must make small changes in his or her life to accommodate the relationship in order for it to evolve. A domineering person can't take an intelligent mate and change that person to suit them, or there will eventually be a blowup. (Ask my ex-husband) The most timid person can find a way out, even if only through suicide.
However, sometimes a person can see the potential in a mate and encourage the mate to explore and expand that potential.
For instance, my present husband, an educated well-traveled person saw that my education and opportunities had been stifled by my domineering ex-husband who tried to make me into his idea of a wife. (No completing education, no working outside the home, do as I say, don't do as I do, and look the other way when I come home drunk.)
Anyway, he encouraged me to go back to college and pursue my dreams. I got two degrees. When the opportunity arose for me to make a trip to the Soviet Union as part of my studies, he gave me the nudge that I needed and I went. When I came back, he said that he had wanted me to acquire the international view that he had of the world. So he was doing it for himself as well, but in this particular situation, he changed me for the better by helping me to do something that I desired, too. If I had said that I didn't want to do all that, he would not have forced me to in the way that my first husband forced his will on me.
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