Do you love your partner, but wish you could change something about them? Do you believe that if someone loves you, they would be willing to make themselves over for you?
Many relationship experts warn against expecting your significant other to transform themselves upon your request. Others say there may be situations where it’s okay to ask for a few modifications, but you still need to be skillful about it.
Encouraging each other to love and grow is part of a healthy relationship. Learn how to support your partner in the process, without being controlling or manipulative.
Read also: 12 Important Conversation Skills for Couples
- Understand your motivation. Before you say anything, think about why you want your partner to do something differently. Are you really concerned with how much noise they make chewing, or are there deeper issues in your relationship?
- Appeal to self-interest. You’re more likely to succeed if you suggest something your partner already wants to do. It also helps to point out the benefits for them.
- Use specifics. Your partner can’t read your mind. Ask clearly and kindly for what you want. Give them concrete examples.
- Be a role model. Showing beats telling. If you can demonstrate the behavior yourself, you’ll help your partner form new habits without feeling like you’re nagging them.
- Seek compromises. If you want your partner to accommodate you, it’s important to be willing to do the same for them. Offer to put your dirty socks in the hamper instead of dropping them on the floor. Ask them to give you their own suggestions.
- Empathize with each other. Just changing your perspective is likely to reduce your stress. Listen to your partner, so you can understand their choices.
- Express appreciation. Change is difficult. Let your significant other know that you’re grateful for their efforts. Give them positive feedback on their progress.
- Keep communicating. Major issues take time to resolve, and new ones will emerge for as long as you continue living together. Make your relationship a priority. Talk openly with each other. Resolve conflicts promptly and respectfully.
- Avoid ultimatums. There’s a difference between setting boundaries and making unilateral demands. Threatening your partner is likely to lead to resentment. Collaborate on finding mutually satisfactory solutions.
- Focus on yourself. You can only do so much to change others, but you have almost infinite control over yourself. Devote your time and energy to activities that will give you greater results. You may even find that working on your own personal development winds up making your partner look more wonderful.
- Establish priorities. Remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place and the many positive qualities you’ve discovered since then. When you focus on what you love about them, it will be easier to overlook minor details.
- Consider counseling. What if your partner is trying to make serious changes, but keeps running into obstacles? They may need more help than you can provide, especially if they’re dealing with addictions or longstanding issues. Agencies like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help you find resources in your area.
- Move on. Your relationship may be in trouble if you’re expecting someone to completely change their personality or do things that conflict with their core values. Being honest about your incompatibility can help you heal and prepare for the next chapter in your life.
On the bright side, your partner is bound to change over time. However, the results may be different than what you had in mind. Accepting each other as you are may also bring great rewards as you face and enjoy life together.