“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” Thomas Merton
The short answer is, “Yes, people can change.” Change is absolutely possible (…I’m living proof), but it usually takes us hitting our version of rock-bottom in order to become uncomfortable enough to seek change and be open to a new way.
The long answer is, “We resist change.” Change causes discomfort, and we certainly aren’t comfortable with discomfort. So the discomfort of our lives has to become greater than the uncomfortableness of change.
Unfortunately, if we’re not highly uncomfortable, we’re not going to change for the fun of it and certainly not because someone else wants us to.
Gabriele’s husband, Dalton, when confronted with a difficult decision or challenging conversation that needs to be had, his tendency is to shut down and avoid it all together. He figures it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission and he’d rather just take a little nagging from Gabriele than risk having an argument with her.
This is what he does: he shuts down, backs away, avoids and ignores the smoldering fire that’s sitting there in the middle of the room.
Whereas Gabriele wants to talk about the fire: when it started, how it started, what’s going to happen if they don’t deal with it, and why Dalton hasn’t put it out yet. She wants him to talk to her, to open up to her – even when he’s upset with her. She wants to be a partner in this relationship; she wants to know what he needs and she wants the opportunity to be heard, as well. She’s trying to change him from someone who would rather avoid difficult topics into someone who wants to dive into them.
Dalton is 45 years old and this little characteristic of his has been with him since he was a child. As fabulous and powerful as Gabriele is, she hasn’t been able to change him. He hasn’t changed when his beloved wife has asked him to again and again and again. He hasn’t changed even though it most certainly would cause fewer arguments and would have made life significantly easier. The possibility of change wasn’t there until he got really uncomfortable, when Gabriele wanted to separate and bought a new home.
Gabriele didn’t leave because she was trying to manipulate him into changing; she left because she felt like without communication the marriage couldn’t be salvaged.
At the time of this writing, the jury’s still out on whether or not Gabriele and Dalton’s marriage will survive. The distance between them may have become too far to bridge. The jury’s still out on whether or not Dalton will open up to Gabriele and begin communicating significantly more.
But at least now he’s trying.
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