Part 5 of It Takes One to Tango
Too often people don’t think or act ‘sanely’ when it comes to their marriage problems. Picture this common scenario: a wife is frustrated that her husband doesn’t help more around the house. She nags and badgers him but it doesn’t inspire him to step up and be more helpful. Her reaction? She gets more persistent in her nagging, sharper in her criticism. Not only does it not have the desired effect, it drives her husband even further from her.
Or this scenario: a husband wants his wife to be more budget conscious. He tries to limit her access to their finances, but she still spends lavishly. So he gets more controlling and tries to bully her. The result? She resents his control and becomes more devious to avoid it.
When faced with marital challenges we often conclude that we’re just not trying hard enough. So we redouble our efforts. The problem is not always a lack of effort. Often the issue is that we apply too much effort in the wrong direction.
All relationships are dynamic. There is an ebb and flow between husband and wife that responds to the strengths and weaknesses of each. If you want your relationship to change, instead of trying harder at the same thing, change direction. Try doing something different. If your normal pattern is to nag and then resentfully do his chores yourself, then try not nagging and not doing the chores. Give it time and stay calm. Most people resist being bullied, so if you step back and give him space to do the chores his way in his time, it’s much more likely that he’ll do them.
Likewise for the husband with the extravagant wife. The more you treat her like a child, the more irresponsible she’s likely to be. Try doing something radically different, like asking her to take on paying the bills or drawing up a budget.
But remember: you have to change your behaviour and your emotional pattern. It won’t work if you are hanging onto your resentment or doing this with an expectation that your spouse will fail. Approach this with a sincere desire to see your spouse flourish and whatever happens, it will surely be different to what you expect!