Changing in Marriage

Last week’s article on communication sparked a few conversations here at Good Husbanding, and an overwhelming question surrounded why women expect their husbands to change, while husbands expect their wives not to change.  I’m going to do my best to explain.

Please note:  this is my attempt at explaining a very complicated situation.  Every situation is different, and every woman is very complex.  If you really want to understand your own situation, feel free to use this article as a conversation piece with your wife so that you two can talk it out together.

 

First, to get the simple part out of the way.  Why do men not expect their lady to change after the wedding?  Because he fell in love with the person he proposed to!  If he wanted something different, he wouldn’t have proposed to her – he would have found someone else.

 

Now… the complicated part.  Why do women expect their husbands to change?  The fact is, women don’t accept a proposal from the man she wants to be with forever.  She accepts a proposal from the potential that this particular suitor has.  If she can see that with a few ‘small’ tweaks, this man could be her Prince Charming, then she will marry him.  Marriage is sort of considered a blank check to make whatever changes she deems necessary to live ‘happily ever after’.

 

“But doesn’t she love me for who I am?  Aren’t I perfect just the way I am?”

 

Unfortunately, no.  Nobody is perfect.  Everyone has the potential to improve somehow.   She loved you enough to see the potential in you, and in her own (often misguided way) she is trying to help you.  If you see her making changes that you don’t agree with, talk to her about it.  You should be able to come to an agreement as to what changes are a good idea, and which changes are not really something you see yourself doing.

If she is helping you become a real-life grownup, helping you to learn from your own experiences and grow as an individual, I wouldn’t fight it.  Moreover, you should also be helping her to become a real-life grownup – guiding her through her own life experiences and helping her grow as an individual.  You didn’t just get a legal piece of paper and expensive piece of jewelry… you have agreed to become each others’ guide and partner through life.  You both are going to change somehow.  Try to change together!

 

“But I loved her just the way she was when I proposed to her!  She was perfect!  Why did everything have to change?”

 

Well, this is a two-part issue.  First, I don’t believe that she was perfect.  If she was, she was putting on a show for you – which is inherently NOT perfect.  If she was trying to fit into a mold to please you, she wasn’t being true to herself.  Many women are guilty of this, and it is not your fault.  They feel it is the only way to catch themselves a husband.  This also explains why she ‘changed’ after the wedding… she changed back into herself because she already had you.

For the single guys reading this, the only way to avoid this trap is to communicate with your lady.  Facades don’t really last the test of time, and if you take a step back far enough, you can tell that you don’t have the whole picture.  Talk to her and really get to know her deep down.  It’s the only way to be sure that you know the real woman.

 

Second, it’s unreasonable to assume that someone isn’t going to change with time.  With Time comes Life Experiences – Life Experiences create the need to Adapt and Learn.  With Adaptations and Learning come Changes.  The hope is that as your lives unfold, you will share life experiences together, and work together to adapt and learn whatever life has to teach you.  If you choose not to adapt and learn, she’ll have to do it on her own… which means she’ll change and you won’t.  Neither of you will be happy.

 

Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional.  If you want to live Happily Ever After, you need to work to grow together through all of the changes that life presents.

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About the Author: Abby Dryer's goal in life is to bridge the communication gap between men and women. She finds herself giving lots of marital advice to her guy friends whose wives don’t want to have to explain *everything* to their husbands. “Women are hard to understand. I’m a woman, and *I* don’t even get us sometimes! Goodhusbanding is a great guide to help men understand their women, and hopefully communicate with a little more confidence, because that’s what works… communication!”

  • Paul

    People evolve over time, but not at the rates and manners we expect.

    Many women I’ve met expect that evolution to happen much quicker, and on their terms.  I’ve got news for these persons: We are not in your lives to improve our potential based on *your* perception of *our* best interests, but rather to evolve together.  Killing this perspective will save you a lot of tsuris.Many men I’ve met expect the evolution to happen at a glacial pace and freak out when things change too quickly.  They believe they got hoodwinked in the job interview, per se.  Guys: You’re marrying (or dating) a person, not a Japanese robot.  You’ve changed over time; you’re not the same guy you were in college, much less high school, and if you are, I challenge you that you’re wasting your life.  Lay off the controls a bit and let her be herself.  You might be surprised at what she becomes.Yes, more communication needs to happen, but more than anything else, that communication needs to be built on mutual respect — and you can’t respect someone if you’re viewing them as either a perpetual fix-er-upper or a never-changing CGI program.  That’s not how it works.

  • ObviouslyAnnie

    Good info! I can honestly say that Ryan and I started dating when we were so young (14-years-old) that we grew up and “changed” together. We did so, together, for ten years before we officially tied the knot. Although I’ve always felt that our situation was ideal in regards to our expectations for each other in our relationship (we were always “on the same page”), I’m also aware that it may have had more to do with it being ideal for our specific personality types. Not everyone learns the same way. Jumping in front of bus after bus **together** worked for us, but every couple has their own relationship evolution. I think that’s the “change” that you described. The good ‘ol “live and learn” theory!