There are numerous benefits in living in a healthy marriage. From longer life-span, greater joy, more lasting fulfilment, to enjoyable companionship and building a wonderful family, getting married can feel like the best thing that can ever happen to anyone. But when a marriage becomes unhealthy, it can feel like the worst thing. Studies have found that unhealthy marriages contribute to the risk of obesity, stroke, and premature death. In my article, Marriage- What it entails (Part 2), I stated that you don’t have to marry a perfect person; you just have to marry a person who shares your values and dreams, desires your companionship, and is cool-headed in times of conflict resolution. I also added that your spouse does not exist to be molded into your own ideal. They may have their imperfections, but they also deserve to achieve their own dreams.
Your spouse is not a bunch of clay that you are supposed to mold into your ideal; it’s quite disrespectful to do that, even though you may claim to have his/her interest at heart. Every single human being is unique. Everybody has his/her talents, values, interests, and dreams. And everyone deserves to experience the joy of pursuing their dreams and not your dreams. You need to respect the values, interests, and dreams of your spouse. It’s a fundamental human right.
Stop trying to mold your spouse into what you ideally want them to be. Life is too short to mold anyone into anything. It’s pure vanity. As a healthy and positive person, if you wish to encourage your spouse to achieve their dreams and value life, make sure that they see things the way you see them. If they are not prospective achievers like you, and you want them to be, then you are not compatible, and you don’t have to marry them.
If you keep trying to mold your spouse into your own ideal, you are denying them of their right to make independent choices. There’s nothing wrong with making suggestions, but nagging them about them is taking things too far. If you have any intention of molding your spouse, do that before you get married and not after you get married. If you try molding them in marriage, instead of encouraging them, then it turns out that they are not the one with the problem; you are.
Your spouse is not some sort of clay you try to put in a mold or cast into what you imagine. You can‘t expect everyone to be like you- besides the fact that we have come from very different backgrounds, we have also had different experiences. This does not mean you should turn a blind eye to your spouse when they are indulging in self-destructive behaviors, especially those that may have an adverse effect on the children. You can’t save a person if they are not willing to save themselves. But you can be patient with them and support them in fighting their bad habits.
When you try to change your spouse, it feels like you are rejecting them- plus, you can‘t change them so you are only wasting your time. If they‘ve grown up to be who they are, they have probably adapted to it. What you see is what you get. When you try to change another person, it‘s like telling them that their judgments and personality are flawed, and they are impaired, which makes them shameful- that hurts! The best way to help your spouse is to be a role model to them. Be that which you want your spouse to be. Let them desire to change from admiring what you do, than from nagging them about what you think is right.
Trying to change your spouse by telling them what to do may not turn out well. They may respond with resentment and anger. Or they may resort to depression and inferiority complex. But this does not mean that it will help them to change. Change isn’t so easy; on the contrary, it’s actually very hard. Often times, it is better not to keep fantasizing that change will take place in the lives of other people. It’s better to just take them as they are, and then allow yourself to be taken by surprise if they ever come to experience any form of change.
Acceptance is the only key to happiness. Accepting that your life will sometimes be boring, you will always have to endure some kinds of insolence towards you, your classmates and colleagues will always disappoint you, and your spouse will always manifest some undesirable habits will allow you to be happier, rather than more depressed. They will also enable you to learn to be more accepting and tolerant of other people, as you show your respect and admiration for them, in spite of their discourtesy.
Acceptance is very important in a marriage. And if you think you can‘t accept the behavior of another, the best time to address the issue is before marriage. If it is beyond what you can take, do not get married. It is not easy to change oneself, except through the support and unconditional love of others. When you tell other people to change, you make them feel that they are less than desirable, and change is even more difficult at this point.
If your spouse has a passion for something meaningful, you can show your interest in trying to help them maximize their abilities. They will appreciate it if you show interest in their affairs. Most people don’t, but you don’t have to be most people. It is important to encourage your spouse and help them in every possible way you can to fully realize their potentials. Encouraging your spouse to maximize their potentials is different from trying to make them meet your idea of an ideal mate.
Remember, you did not tell them what to do. They told you what they want to do, you probably didn’t agree with them, and you told them you didn’t. But then, you were willing to support them regardless. If your spouse has a funny sleeping habit or is not very tidy, you may talk to them about it, but you should never have to nag them about it. Be solely interested in their passions and affairs. Accept all other things if they are not harmful to your life or to your children’s lives.