Should You Change For Your Spouse?
A Response From Kimberly Holmes and Dr. Joe Beam
During Marriage Helper Live
(0:00) We have another question I want to get before we end the program. I love this question.
This man says, “I changed who I was to appease my wife to avoid arguments. Now she wants a divorce because I’m a wimp. Now what? Now if I speak my mind, she thinks I’m being a jerk.”
(0:23) Dr. Joe Beam: Well, understand that even when people don’t like what we have become, they still tend to react negatively when we start becoming somebody else. This man changed and became the “wimp” because he’s trying to appease her. He finally realized, “That’s not working, she doesn’t respect me, et cetera, et cetera.”
So now he speaks his mind. Why is she reacting negatively to that? Because she’s reacting negatively to the change. She was able to control and dominate him because he allowed it to happen. So, what does he do?
I suggest, and again, I don’t make your decisions for you, you make your own decisions. But I suggest that he continues to stand up for himself, but not be loud, mean or say harsh things. Just be very strong.
The Spouse May Resist the Change
When he does that to get back to what he was before, his wife may become more intense. If you ever study Behavior Modification 101 you’ll understand this. If she is used to him behaving a certain way, and now he becomes the strong guy, she’s going to intensify her behavior trying to get him to go back and be the person he was before.
And so, as she intensifies or exacerbates her behavior, he should not react.
He needs to:
- Stay strong.
- Be calm.
- Be solid.
He could look at her and say, “I’m sorry that you’re upset, but I’m not changing my mind about this,” or, “I hate the fact that you’re yelling at me, but I’m not going to yell back at you.” He needs to be a strong, calm, gentle guy that just doesn’t give in.
If He Remains Strong, Calm, & Gentle, His Wife’s Behavior Can Begin to Shift More Positively.
After a while, his wife’s exacerbated behavior, will likely start diminishing. At that point, he mustn’t change, yell back at her, or do anything else like that. He needs to be strong.
(2:10) Because what are his options? She’s already accusing him of being a total jerk, so he shouldn’t become a total jerk. Nor should he go back and be the “wimp.” The only option it seems to me with good potential for him is to be the strong guy. Calm, gentle, but strong without backing off. (Even if she accuses him of being a jerk.)
Think About What You Can Do Differently
(2:43) Kimberly Holmes: I think that’s a good answer. Well, I hope during this live show we have filled out what it means to be the problem in your marriage.
Yes, it can be hard to hear, but sometimes we need to take that internal look and say:
- “What is it that I could be doing differently?”
- “What is it I could be doing better?”
- “What can I be doing to make me the best person I can be? And how can I help affect my marriage in a positive way?”
We at Marriage Helper Are Here to Help
We are here for you. You can find more of our articles on marriagehelper.com. We also encourage you to subscribe to our Marriage Helper YouTube channel. Our videos can provide help for you.
And we can get you you plugged in with one of our coaches, or signed up for one of our workshops. Know that we would love to connect you to our resources.
Dr. Joe Beam: And if you’re thinking, “Well I don’t know if my spouse would come to the workshop. We need it, but I don’t know if he or she would come.” Call us, and the person who answers our office phone will help connect you with one of our client relationship representatives. Then the client rep. will call you back and help you think about how to talk to your husband or wife about coming to the workshop.