“Resistance to change manifests itself in many ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to petty sabotage to outright rebellions.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Sometimes we expect our partners to know what it is we need. It’s so obvious to us, we can’t imagine how he couldn’t know. But the truth is we cannot carry resentments about our needs not being met if we haven’t expressed to our partners what it is we need. We know they can’t read our minds.
But what about when you have expressed what you need and still nothing has changed?
Our immediate reaction is often assuming that he doesn’t care or we’re not important to him. Sure, that may be true in some rare, toxic relationships….but in my experience, this is rare.
Instead there is probably something else at work and if you change the way you’re communicating, you just might get a different result and create the change you’re seeking in your marriage:
He wants to meet your needs, but doesn’t actually know how to do that. Let’s say you tell him you want to feel closer and more connected, but he doesn’t know what specific actions he needs to take so that you feel closer and more connected to him. Closeness and connection is very subjective and what you’re thinking will create that feeling inside the relationship might be very different than what he’s thinking will help you feel more connected.
A confused mind always does nothing. If he’s confused about what to do, he likely will not take any action until he has more clarity. Give him what I call, “the breadcrumbs,” be specific, and describe to him what connection and closeness looks like from your perspective. When I wanted more affection in my first marriage, I told my husband I wanted to be hugged by him at least once a day. When he began giving me the around-the-shoulder-buddy-hug from the side, I knew I needed to be more specific. He needed to face me, put down what’s in his hands and give me a two-hand hug. I thought that was obvious…clearly, he didn’t.
A husband do not change just because their wife wants them to. Sure, less nagging is good, but it’s typically not motivation enough to create real change. Human nature is that people will only change for one of two reasons: (1) They’re either in a great deal of pain and want out of that pain, or (2) they have great desire. When we’re telling our partners what we want them to do, (although possibly annoyed or concerned) they’re not in great pain, nor do they have great desire to want to make the changes themselves.
He has to want to make the changes and in order for him to want to make this effort to change, there has to be something in it for him. Rather than talking at him, engage with him asking how his life would be different if he felt loved or adored by you, feeling completely understood and supported. Would he be a better, more confident leader at work? Would he feel better physically and become more active? Would he be a more present and patient father? Begin asking questions so that you can identify what’s in it for him and then begin painting that picture.
Will my husband ever change? Change is uncomfortable and frankly, it’s a lot of work. What’s efficient is just to do what we’ve always done. That takes virtually no effort. No one is going to change their habitual behaviors just so someone else can feel better – even when it’s your spouse. That’s just human nature.
That’s not a trait of men, as though they’re somehow deficient (which they’re not). It’s a trait of being human.
Will my husband ever change? If you’ve been telling your husband what you would like for him to change in the relationship and you haven’t seen any changes, maybe it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care or that he is seeking new ways to make you frustrated. Maybe he’s needing further clarity about the details of what you’re asking or he can’t yet see what’s in it for him to make those changes.
Try a different approach than what you’ve been doing. Express what you need in a new way, maybe even attempt to understand his perspective. Even if you try and it doesn’t create the massive change you’d like to see in your marriage, I promise you will learn something in the process.