He Has Changed. How Do I Change Him?

I have been married for 15 years. My husband has changed. He is not the same person that I married. How do I change him back to the person he was when I walked down the aisle with him at our wedding?
Patient Nelly

Dear Patient Nelly,

I am sorry that you feel this angst when it comes to the man that you are married to now and comparing him to the man you felt you were marrying and did marry 15 years ago. I can see where that can be frustrating... and concerning.

Coming from someone who has been there and done that (so-to-speak and not necessarily literally, meaning that I actually follow my own advice that I am about to give)...

I am married to the man of my dreams, my second marriage. Something I realized, even in my first marriage and definitely in my second marriage, along with my education (finishing up my doctorate in psychology) and my counseling experience (25+ years), is that the acceptance of another person has more to do with us than it does with the other person.

I learned this from my adopted mom (actually my ex-mother-in-law... may she R.I.P.). She taught me about unconditional love. Thanks to what she taught me, my husband and I are finishing up on 26 years of marriage. Oh, and even though I am not still married to her son, that has nothing to do with acceptance. I practiced full acceptance and unconditional love with him and that is why our marriage (my first marriage) lasted as long as it did and the reason for the success in my second marriage.

What is all this mumbo jumbo?

Here is the thing. If we go through life expecting that other people are going to please us and that they will always be exactly what we want (whether that is a case of never changing or changing to be what we want), we will never be happy. People change. People do not change. What they do is really a case of their business. Our business is our own happiness. If our happiness is dependent on what others do, we will never settle down to be happy but will constantly be analyzing (and judging!) others. Believe me. That is no way to live!

Happiness is a decision. That is why this blog is called "Positive Persistence." It is a choice to persist in being positive. A choice to persist in being happy. As a part of that, we do not let anyone or anything steal our happiness or contentment.

If you feel that your husband has changed into something that you cannot accept, you have a choice. It is as simple as this. Either you accept him for who he is today, realizing that he is likely to change again (and probably not in the way you would like), or do not accept him, let him know, and let him go! Let him leave and go be happy living somewhere other than where he is judged and convicted as unacceptable by others (including his spouse). And, if he is that awful, you probably do not want to be with him, so you might as well move on and find happiness.

But, a couple of things that stood out about your post. You signed it as "Patient Nelly" which implies that you are predisposed into thinking that you are a patient person and that you have been more than patient with your husband. This implies that you are entitled to something from him because you have given more than what you should have to give by being so patient. Is that really how you feel? Is there really a limit to how much you can give to another person? Is there really a limit to how much love you can give to someone else? Were you forthright with your husband when you married him 15 years ago, letting him know that there was a limit to how much you would or could love him and that he could max out on it and run out of love and you would no longer love him unless he changed? If you did not disclose that when you married him, maybe you should ask if you were 100% honest with him and ask yourself if you have changed in any way. Maybe he has the same basis and you really both should let each other go!

The other thing is the premise that we should change anyone, including our spouse. Truly, do we have those rights? Again, if we think we have the right to demand that our spouse change for us, we should ask if we are willing to do the same for them and if not, is there really any love involved in the equation?

Either learn to love, for the sake of love itself and more importantly the one that we love (and not speaking of self-love here) or let the person go so that they can truly be loved by someone willing to love him or her.

Deborah E
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He Has Changed. How Do I Change Him?
Deborah is a #1 Jazz Singer, as well as a lifelong musician, songwriter, and sound engineer. She is also a writer who pursues a love of positive psychology. She is a thesis short of having her doctorate in psychology.