‘Fix’-ated on Changing Your Mate?

Blocking ViewToday we continue to unpack the many subtle ways our spouses can control us by talking today about the temptation to try to “fix” or change our spouse because he/she doesn’t do his/her part or do it correctly. This is very similar to the victim-mentality post I wrote about recently, but the emphasis is on pushing for change today.

This is one that I really struggled with back in the “messy” days of my marriage. And I want to say two things at the outset:

  1. It wasn’t always that my husband didn’t do his part back then. It was my “perception” that he wasn’t. I’ll explain more about that phenomenon in a minute.
  2. I always ask my hubby for his permission to share posts that involve a less than flattering look at his part in our marriage. And this post, is no exception. #hubbysupportsme

One of the things I tried to fix in my husband in the early days was his temper. Even when we dated I would tell him on occasion that he was being “too emphatic” with me. #wordnerdalert

This highfalutin buzzword was thrown up in his face so much that at one point it made me equally as “in-your-face-annoying” as he had been with me!

There are at least two major consequences of trying to control my spouse in this way …

1. I put myself above him instead of coming alongside him.

As you can imagine, that only increased the likelihood that he would feel angry with me for judging and condemning him. I had begun this practice in an effort to enlighten him to the abrasiveness he sometimes had. But it had the opposite effect—not to mention, dividing us as a couple. #eww (Think Jimmy Fallon!)

2. It distorted and blocked my view as well as my hubby’s.

You see, I felt as if it was my duty to be a “window” into Gary’s heart, if you will, so he could see his ugly side from my perspective. But in trying to control and criticize him, I was really standing in front of that window blocking his view and giving him a refection of “my” ugly side. It was like, “Take a closer look at my anger, Gary! Take a deeper look at the bitter heart I have towards you!”

Whenever we attempt to control our spouse through trying to fix or change them, we are basing that out of our subjective perceptions—emphasis on the subjective. There’s a funny thing (sad, really) that happens when we attempt to first and (often) “only” focus on our mate’s problems … We can’t see them clearly.

Oh, we think we can! That’s why we do it! 😉

But Jesus made it clear that we can’t in Mt. 7:4-5 (Hover over that reference and it will display) and you’ll see that it’s not until we get that crazy plank out of our own eye, that we clearly see what’s going on with our mate’s life.

Most of all …

Idolatry at its ugliest!

I become “fix-ated” on him doing things the way I think he should. This takes valuable energy and time away from minding my own “p’s” and “q’s”which by the way are like mischievous little tots constantly trying to bolt! #notimetolookaway!

What have you tried to fix in your mate? How’d that work for you?

 

What advice would you add to what I’ve mentioned today?

 

Two more things – I am NOT saying you should never talk to your spouse about an area of concern. My attitude and approach was the problem here. That is my emphasis for today.

Also, there’s a flipside to this need to control a mate who doesn’t seem to be doing his/her part … enabling them. This is rather complex, so I want to unpack that separately next week. I hope you’ll join me then!


Linking up with – Mommy Moments, Weekend Whispers, Making Your Home SingMondays @ Soul Survival, Faith ‘n Friends, Word of God Speak,  Sharing His Beauty, Spiritual Sundays, Words with Winter, Sitting Among Friends, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and Playdates with God

 

  • Mary

    I love how you described becoming “fixated” on trying to make someone do things the way we perceive they should do them. I have done that in the past and I am sure I could fall into that in the future but what always makes me pause is “who do I think I am” that I need to fix others when I should be first looking at myself.

    Your husband is very supportive as you go through this series as well as others you have done in the past. Way to go Gary! I hope you have a blessed week, Beth!

    • I love that question that you ask yourself, Mary! To me that indicates how humble and grace-giving you are! I might just begin to ask myself that question in times like these. Thanks for the inspiration! And yes, Gary is very supportive and transparent. That’s one of the many things I love about him!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Had to think about this for awhile. Part of it comes from the old adage that you leave the wedding with one person, and wake up the next day with the person you REALLY married. (Reminds one of Jacob and Leah!)

    In my case…during courtship I obviously tried to be at my best, but having enough self-knowledge to realize that I was a rather ruthless and driven person -especially toward myself – I tried to change. I THOUGHT I could change, and to a degree did, for awhile.

    But the problem was that my wife married someone who fundamentally saw nothing wrong with running ten miles every night, spending two hours working out in the gym, and then staying up until 0300 to work on aeroplanes, the parts of which were scattered through the major rooms of the house (yes, the wing of a full-sized aeroplane in the living room…extending into the dining room).

    I stopped this when we married, but it left a hole that, bluntly, marriage could not immediately fill. She tried to make me the reasonable, personable person that she had thought I was…and I tried to be that person…and it didn’t work. Ergo, divorce in less than a year (and remarriage less than a year after THAT, which showed that it was real after all).

    IIn the twelve years since the remarriage, we’ve both changed, and have been changed, by one another, by circumstance, and by our own will to be a better partner…which is, I think, how it’s supposed to be.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/01/your-dying-spouse-107-dont-give-up-on-me.html

    • Yes, you bring up a good point, Andrew. We do change or should change for the better anyway, in our marriages. I feel as if I can’t really recognize who I was the day I married Gary 28 years ago. God has done a lot of refining of me and I don’t say that boastfully. I also feel as if there is so much more that God needs to soften about my heart. But there is this amazing unity that results when we let our mates inspire us to change! Thanks for adding to the discussion. You always have an interesting and wise point of view!

  • Trying to fix other people. sigh. It’s something we all wish we could do, but something none of us can do. I can’t even fix myself. ha. Thanks, Beth, for the encouragement to stop trying to do the impossible and instead work on what is possible. Praying for clear vision.

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