How do I get my husband to change?

ama ask me anything boundaries effective communication perspective relationship advice relationship tips Jun 29, 2023
How do I get my husband to change?

Dear Julie, My husband and I have been married for 7 years and there are several things he does that drive me crazy. I've tried talking to him about what I need him to do differently, but he won't change and I don't understand why. Can you help me understanding my husband and why he won't change?

--Looking for Change

Dear Looking for Change, You aren't going to like my answer much, but here goes.

You can't change him. (I know you know that.)

You have two options, ask (nicely) for change, and act differently. Essentially, use your words and your actions to influence him to do things differently.

Consider some of these possible factors as to why he isn't changing, even though you have asked. 

  1. If he changes, he may feel like he's giving up something important to him and he doesn't want to give it up, so he doesn't change.
  2. He believes that if he does it your way, then he was doing it wrong and that would mean failure and he can't tolerate the idea that he failed.
  3. He thinks by doing it your way, you are controlling him and he doesn't want to feel controlled.

I don't know if any of these are going through his head, but they are common responses men have to their partners/wives asking them to change their behavior. It creates insurmountable resistance to change.

Unfortunately, you can't really talk about any of these issues with him because talking won't lead to behavior change. He's having an emotional reaction and he may feel like he's having to defend his masculinity in the process. Emotional issues are not changeable through the rational process of talking.

Instead of talking, tell him how you feel when he does something that upsets you. And then STOP TALKING. Don't talk to him about it. For example, if he prefers to go out with his friends on Friday night, rather than staying home with you, say something like, "When you leave me alone on Friday nights, I feel lonely." And then stop talking. He may respond, but whatever you do, don't argue with him or engage in a discussion. If a response seems appropriate repeat what you said, "I feel lonely when you leave me alone and go out with your friends." Resist the urge to ask him to do anything different.

Then do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You will have a lot of emotions that you didn't tell him and he will likely still go out with his friends, but he will think about what you said. That is because you metaphorically tossed him a ball and refused to take it back. He's left holding the ball (issue) and he will toss it around in his head for a while.

The "act differently" part does not mean be overly nice to him in an attempt to get him to change his behavior. It means treat yourself like you matter and expect that he should be willing to engage with you in the relationship. Don't pursue him, expect him to pursue you. 

If you'd like more detailed and focused answers for your situation, join The Loved Lifestyle membership so you can ask me in a live Q&A session. Check out the details here.

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