As Florence Foresti had rightly described in her sketch: we ended up hating what initially attracted us to our partner ….! This is where the desire to want to change it or change it can point its nose.
Because, once past the magic of meet, once what Stendhal called “love crystallization”, our view of our partner changes. Certain character traits, certain quirks, certain behaviors become more visible, and in the long run end up downright annoying us. While before the beloved seemed to us to take on all the qualities, a kind of disappointment creeps in little by little: this being is a human, normal, with faults, a past, tics… In short, not exactly as we dreamed of during the first emotions. Then flies away the illusion of forming the perfect union with a missing part that would complete us, as in the myth of Plato’s soul mate.
It happens then that we come to toy with the idea of being able to bring the loved one to change his behavior, if not his personality so that he improves, sometimes also so that he gets closer to this ideal, even if we we dare not admit it completely.
With limited chances of success…. Because we all know the expression: “Chase the natural and it comes back at a gallop.”
Is there a difference inbetween the sexes on this?
Yes…but not for the reasons we think.
That couples whether or not they have children, it seems that women are often more demanding of change than men. Moreover, it is often they who initiate couples therapy consultations. Clinic experience shows me that there can be many reasons for this. First, most women work on themselves, read psych books, consult and take care of themselves. Moreover, culturally, it is above all they who invest the couple and expect more. Finally, the men themselves, would especially like that the women do not change – and especially after the birth of the children.
These differences will then create marital tensionwhich sometimes can become unbearable for the partners.
Because you have to differentiate between changing certain behaviors and transforming the person…
It is obviously impossible to change someone’s personality, to change their way of being or of seeing the world.
And often that is not the demand. Often, people expect simpler things, like help with household chores, more attention, more quality time, more support and compassion when office life is heavy, or before crucial deadlines. ..
Ultimatum or gentle method?
Knowing how to express your requests in the midst of a conflict, while keeping your calm can be a feat! Any reproaches or ultimatums should be banished, even if they are considered justified at the time. Because it only feeds the cycle of hate and continues to fester even more the conflict.
ut when the partners are willing, the gentle method remains the most effective. Change is hard, long and sometimes painful work, and realizing this is an important step in the process. Clearly, we should not ask too much, right away. In neuroscience, we know that the purpose of the brain is precisely to create a habit, an automatism to make our lives easier. By asking the other to change, we are therefore asking him to deprogram what his conscience has put in place for several years or even a whole section of his life. Do not underestimate the energy it requires, nor even the time it requires.
When should you consult?
If the person in front of you can’t hear it, it’s always time to consider couples therapy, which is, in many ways, the best way to make them aware of your discomfort. Because it is the therapist’s job to put people’s requests into words. And beware, it is almost impossible to solve marital problems if only one of the parties will in therapy.
The couple is an entity in its own right that must be treated as such. Sometimes we work in detail on one person in the couple, without leaving the other aside. Including a third person, whose job it is and who has the necessary expertise and perspective remains the best way to overcome an imbalance.
Because very often, unfortunately, couples come to us too late, have already said to themselves and done a lot of harm, that it can sometimes be very difficult to recover, when it would have been easier to ask for support earlier, which ends up being essential.