Some of the research shows that couples do adapt to each other over time and, in healthy relationships, they each have influence over the other.
So … what are the secrets that these couples have that help them to change each other? What do they do? What do they know about how to get their partner to change?
One of the first things that these couples realize is that you have to choose your battles wisely … and let go of the rest. What are the things that are most important to you? A neat house? Being on time? Helping with housework? Keeping you apprised of his or her schedule?
What can you let go of … The way that he chews his food? Interrupting you when you are telling a story? Her need to collect shoes? Make a conscious decision to let go of those behaviors and every time that you notice your spouse doing one of those things, find a way to just let it go. Think of a positive habit or attribute.
When you have decided what behavior that you would like for your partner to change, begin to notice when he or she is doing something different … when he puts his cup in the dishwasher, when she is ready on time …and make sure that you find a way to let your partner know that you notice those efforts.
Think about requesting small specific changes. You might not ask your wife to always be on time; however, you might ask her to find a way to be ready in time to leave for a certain event. You might not ask your husband to be neater all of the time; however, you might ask him to hang up his towel in the bathroom. Be sure to compliment and offer appreciation for those changes. You may not be thinking that you are asking for a lot … but for some this may be a very big change in habit.
Ask in a positive way. Use “I” statements like … “I would really appreciate it if you would just put your towels back on the rack after you shower, it would make my life easier and help me to feel appreciated.” Or “I know that you do not want to feel like you always have to check in with me; however, when you let me know about your plans after work … and an approximate time for when you would be home, then I did not worry … or call you a lot. I would really appreciate it if you would do that again.”