Let’s just say I “know” someone whose partner wants her to “change” before he will “commit” to her. This “friend” asks if this is an ok request from her partner. Before you start swearing (valid response, of course!), try this answer on for size:
Dear Friend: Please read the following to your partner –
Of course you want to change her. If you could change her then everything would be perfect, right?
Look, we all feel this way in our relationships. We project all of our problems, issues and discomfort onto our partner. It seems as if all of our hurt, anger and frustration would go away if they would just change and treat us the way we “deserve” to be treated.
But think about it for a moment. Do you think all of your relationship problems are really about her? Could there be something about you that is getting in the way of your own happiness or happiness in the relationship?
Buddhists teach a form of acceptance called mindfulness. Mindfulness means focusing on being in the moment and accepting whatever is truly in the here and now. This requires that you let go of the past and stop worrying about the future.
If you practice mindfulness in your relationship it would mean that you truly accept her for who she is in the moment – without resentment for past hurts or frustration about how she doesn’t live up to your expectations. It would mean enjoying her fully in the moment. Being present to who she is without trying to change her allows her to be who she really is, without defensiveness and without feeling like she has to be something she’s not.
Look, we really can’t change our partners. The only thing we can control is our own reactive behaviors. It may just be that when you accept that you can’t change her and you let go of trying to blame her for the conflicts, you’ll find that it really wasn’t her that was the problem. Funny how that works!
And, to my “friend” … (I’m listening carefully here), be sure that you don’t spend so much time trying to please someone else that you forget to please yourself. In any relationship, you’ve got to love and respect your partner (and receive it back), but first and foremost, you must also love and respect yourself.
Have a great day, everyone!