The way to change your spouse.
You can’t. Change your spouse, that is.
While it’s true that he can make changes and that you, by force or coercion, can “make him” into something he’s not, you haven’t truly changed him. Oh, he might be different than he was, but his heart will not be in it. He might know not to say or do things in your presence because he’ll have to “pay for it” later, but he hasn’t really changed. You’ve only taught him to conform to your wishes, thereby emasculating him. Tell me it ain’t so!
If you have an upcoming marriage and you have ideas on how you’ll change him once he belongs to you, forget those ideas. [Gals, you know there are women out there who do this.]
Don’t be like the gal whose husband told her, “You were pretty happy with me and my stomping grounds when we were dating.”
To which she replied, “Yes, but that’s because I wanted you then. I have you now.”
Oh yes, that conversation took place in another room from where I sat. I’ve grieved about that relationship ever since.
If, however, you’d like to see changes in your spouse, I have a few ideas. Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself if this advice is based on biblical truth or other movements.
What to do so there will be a change in your spouse
- Accept him the way he is. Yes. Allow him to be who he is. Do not expect him to change the way he is wired. Accepting him does not mean you encourage him to continue in wrong actions nor does it mean you don’t speak truth.
- Affirm him. This doesn’t mean you applaud what is not right; it doesn’t mean you defend him when he’s wrong. It means that you recognize his gifts and abilities and express affirmation for them. What man wants to listen to a wife who has nothing positive to say to or about him?!
- Acknowledge your own faults. Isn’t it true that you’re pretty full of faults yourself? Take a look at what you’d like to see changed in your spouse, then ask yourself if what you want is what God wants of him. Do you want him to change because you know he can grow in this area, because you know it will enhance him as a person, or because you think it makes you look better? What’s your motive? Check your motive, and you’ll know whether you should proceed or not. If your motive is biblical, then by all means, proceed.
- Ask God for wisdom. If there’s an area in which you feel your spouse is weak or wrong, ask God for wisdom on how to respond. It’s not your job to be his conscience or the Holy Spirit in his life; it’s not your place to correct him as you would a child, nor should you pout and whine to get him to change or do things differently. Instead, ask God to show you how to give affirmation for what is right and how to speak to him about what is wrong. The way to speak to him and the timing in voicing your thoughts is so important.
- Appeal to your spouse. How do you want him to appeal to you if you are wrong? What approach will make him want to please you instead of fight you? What words can you use that will let him know you are in his corner and but cannot condone what is wrong? It’s wrong to ask him to be somebody he is not, but it isn’t wrong to ask him to do things the right way, instead of the way that you and he both know is wrong.
- Admit family is biased in deeper issues. It is rare to find family members who can be objective when there’s a deep problem in a marriage. Whether it’s your family or his, there will be repercussions if you enlist any of them as official counselors. Certainly they can pray for you; but rarely will you find family who is able or willing to see and listen to both sides without taking sides. You will only muddy the water further by involving those whose blood is thicker than water.
- Advice should come from an experienced person. If the problem in your marriage is deep and fraught with sin, talking to your spouse alone will usually not work. Find someone who can lead both of you in working through the issue and finding acceptance and forgiveness. Even if your spouse won’t participate, you can find help for going forward by getting biblical counsel from others. Don’t let his lack of participation keep you bound.
If the issues you face are not the result of deliberately living in sin and your spouse is sincere in his relationship with God, then you can find hope by following these steps.
More often than not, when a man is sincere and feels accepted and affirmed, when he knows you’re in his corner, he will respond. As human beings, we are slow learners and we can’t expect him to want to change instantly. That’s where allowing God to work in his heart comes in. That’s where patience and persistence will bring fruit. It’s also where acceptance and affirmation play a large part in finding a way to see a change in your spouse.
This might seem like too simple an approach. Be like a Berean and search for wisdom from God; find out for yourself if these steps work. Your situation certainly is different from everyone else’s. These steps are not designed to be easy or to provide an overnight miracle. By following this approach, you will find a change – even if not in your spouse – then in yourself.