In your quest to fix your marriage, you may
encounter resistance--from your spouse!
Your spouse may dwell on the 101 reasons why "this
just won't work for us" and blame you for every
Or, your spouse may be emotionally "checked-out"
of the marriage and not care about your efforts to
improve the situation or be willing to extend any
effort of their own.
This is, by far, the most common question people
ask me: "How do I get my spouse to change?"
Why would your spouse resist POSITIVE change in
your marriage and what should you do about it?
Hi, I'm Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness.
There's a deep-seeded belief in our culture that
people resist change, no matter what. But is this
true? Do people really want things to remain
status quo? Do we really not want things to
change? If you look closely at human nature, it's
not change itself we resist; it's change that's
IMPOSED UPON US.
Think about it. We have no problem with change
that WE INITIATE ourselves. But when we feel
forced or manipulated to change, then we resist
WITH ALL OUR MIGHT.
Your spouse may not be willing to change for the
sake of your marriage right now, but that’s not
because your spouse doesn’t want a great marriage.
Everyone wants a great marriage. It’s because if
they’re going to change, they want the change to
be THEIR IDEA!!!!!!
I promise you; your spouse will decide to change
when they’re ready to change and not one second
before. And the more you push them, urge them,
nudge them, ask them, scream at them, or beg them,
the LESS LIKELY they are to change. I know it’s
hard to wait, but you have to let it come from them.
It’s possible someone could INSPIRE your spouse to
change, but the person LEAST LIKELY to be the
inspiration is YOU. It’s sad but true. A complete
stranger is more likely to get through to your
spouse than you are. A chance experience or
encounter is more likely to shake up your spouse
than anything YOU could do.
Mary Ellen (name changed) came to me for marriage
coaching. She knew she had to make changes and
came to our sessions with a genuine interest to
improve her marriage. She wanted Tom (her husband)
to be part of the process, but he wasn’t willing
to join her. She had been asking him to go with
her to get help for over a year. But Tom
I met with Mary Ellen twice and convinced her to
back-off Tom and just let him be for a while. I
counseled her to make some changes that created a
more positive energy in their relationship. When
the time was right, I suggested that Mary Ellen
ask Tom is he would be willing to speak with ME
for 10 minutes. Mary Ellen’s timing was good. Tom
Within 7 minutes of my conversation with Tom he
agreed to join Mary Ellen in the marriage coaching
Why was I able to get Tom to agree to something in
7 minutes that Mary Ellen couldn’t get him to do
in over a year? It’s true I know how to handle
these situations, but there were 2 other important
1. For the first time in over a year, Mary Ellen
backed-off far enough so that Tom had the space to
make his own choice.
2. The inspiration came from someone other than
Your effort to change your spouse is probably
COUNTERproductive. The chances are good that
you’re "in the way." You need to get out of the
way and create the space for your spouse to CHOOSE
to change. That’s the only way it’ll ever happen.
I can’t tell you how times a spouse will say to me
that their husband/wife changed for a few days,
but then returned to their old ways. That’s
because they never really decided to change. They
were pressured. They were manipulated. And so it
If you tell your spouse what to do; it's a
challenge. If THEY decide to do it; it's a great
idea. YOU HAVE TO LET IT COME FROM THEM. That's
the only way it'll make a difference long term in
Now you're probably thinking, "Makes sense, but
isn't there anything I can do to encourage my
spouse's choice?" YES, there is! YOU CAN BE AN
INSPIRING EXAMPLE and let your spouse see how
the choices YOU'RE making impact how YOU feel
about yourself and your marriage.
Resist the urge to believe that your marriage
won’t change until your spouse "gets with the
program." The love YOU feel is much more a result
of what YOU DO for your marriage than what your
spouse does for it.
We tend to think that the love in our marriage is
in our spouse's hands. But it's not. Love is a
verb. And if we do it--if we love--then we feel
love. THE CHOICE IS OURS.
Consider the love you feel for your children. Is
it because of everything they do for you? Is it
because they’re such angels? Of course not. The
love you feel for your children is a result of
what YOU DO FOR THEM. The love you feel in your
marriage is a result of what YOU DO too.
Furthermore, there's no better way to inspire your
spouse to make the choice to change than to make
that choice yourself.
It happens quite often that one spouse will
register for the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp
in the "Lone Ranger" track and then half way
through the program they will switch to the "Duo"
track which is designed for couples participating
TOGETHER. What caused their spouse to change their
mind? Simple. 2 things. First, they learned to
create a space in their relationship for their
spouse to make a choice to change. Second, they
showed their spouse, through their EXAMPLE, how to
make that choice and the impact it could have on
Very often one spouse will come to me for marriage
coaching and ask if it makes sense for them to be
coached alone. The answer, is ABSOLUTELY yes! One
spouse can make more than a 50% difference in a
marriage. And that difference is often exactly what
will get the other spouse to open up to marriage
"You can lead me a mile, but you can’t push me an
So, bottom line...as Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must
be the change you wish to see..." It's YOU
changing that has the greatest impact on YOUR
EXPERIENCE of your marriage AND it's YOU changing
that is the single most important thing you can do
to motivate your spouse to change.
If you’re ready to learn what changes you need to
make in your marriage and if you want to learn how
to inspire your spouse to begin to make changes
too, then subscribe to my FREE breakthrough report
"7 Secrets to a Stronger Marriage" and get a FREE
marriage assessment too. CLICK HERE to subscribe.
Author of Marriage Fitness