The other week I was texting back and forth with a client on whether he should do counseling or not. He didn’t see the need to do counseling, but he was willing to do it in order to prove to his wife that he didn’t have a problem. He asked if this was a good reason to do counseling. I explained in no uncertain terms that this was not a good reason to do counseling. He didn’t respond. I then said he would benefit from having his blind spots exposed which would help him avoid problematic traps he gets stuck into. Again, he didn’t respond.
The response I then gave shaped the course of our future sessions. I texted him “If it matters to the ones who matter to you, then its worth doing.” He immediately texted me back and said that was reason enough to try. This got me thinking. Shouldn’t this idea guide us throughout marriage?
I think the growth process in marriage isn’t about becoming the right person, but becoming the right person for your spouse, within reason of course. If your spouse is asking you to become a drug dealer, terrorist or contract killer, then yes my idea breaks down. Yet, if your spouse is asking you to be more consistent, become a better listener, follow a budget, back them up on parenting choices, pick up after yourself, stop pet peeve behaviors and so on. Even though you may disagree with what they are saying, if the person is of value to you, then you should value what is important to them.
In no way do I think this is an easy thing to do even though this idea seems like common sense. You wouldn’t believe how many couples I’ve counseled have struggled with this idea. The reason being, valuing what the other person values might require change.
Let’s go back to my client who I was texting. His wife wasn’t willing to continue relationship with him because she viewed his behavior as abusive. The husband strongly disagreed. If he wanted to keep his marriage he was going to have to reevaluate his behavior. This, as you can imagine, would be a difficult and or challenging thing to do. Again, he asked why he should do this. I repeated what I said to him in the text “If it matters to those who matter to you, then do it.” I added, out of all people we have to change for, Why not your spouse? We have to change our behavior for co-workers, bosses, family members, friend, but when it comes down to spouses, we throw a fit? How does that make sense?
So here’s a few ways in which you can practice the idea of valuing what matters to those who matter to you:
- Value your loved ones interests
- Value their feedback on your behavior
- Value their stressors and stress relievers
- Value their feelings
- Value their hopes and dreams
I say to you what I said to my client. If you aren’t going to change for your spouse, then who are you going to change for?