It can be frustrating and depressing to see the person you love ignore what you need and want.
It’s frustrating to have to ask repeatedly for what you want and not get it.
It’s maddening to show your relationship partner all of the logical reasons he or she should change, construct a completely convincing argument, provide all the necessary support – and still see no change in his or her behavior.
It’s heart-breaking to feel like you will have to sacrifice the relationship with a person you love in order to be happy.
Does this sound familiar?
You know you can’t make another person change his or her behavior. But you are certain there must be something you can do that you have not yet tried to make him or her change, so that the relationship can work and both of you can be happy.
And you are right.In this article I will tell you in what circumstances it is ok to ask your partner to change his or her behavior, and give you the tools you need to get your partner to make those changes.
When is it ok to ask your partner or spouse to change his or her behavior?
- Ask for change if the change will help your partner become a better, more capable, more functional, healthier and happier person.
- Ask for change if the lack of change is hurting your partner, you or your children.
- Ask for change if the change will make your relationship better and more functional, healthier and happier.
- Ask for change if the quality of your partner’s and your life will improve as a result of the change you want.
How to cause behavior change in your partner
Begin by effectively communicating what’s wrong and requesting change. You may request change about 10 times overall, doing it respectfully and calmly. If you request change and your partner does not change, it may be because he or she cannot hear you and does not understand the importance of your request. Try a different approach and different words each time you raise the issue.
2. Read Together
If you do not see change in your partner’s behavior after repeatedly asking for it, it’s time to move on to the next step. Strongly request that your partner join you in reading a book on the subject of relationships. Initiate discussions about what the two of you are reading to facilitate learning.
3. Get Outside Help
If you do not see change in your partner as a result of reading together relationship-enhancing information, it’s time to move on to the next step to try to cause change in your partner — enlist outside help.
Outside help may be a coach, a therapist or a workshop that both of you will attend as a couple. You should see some behavior change quickly when getting outside help. If you do not, consider switching to a different therapist.
Often couples working with me in coaching see significant changes in their relationship. Learn more about how to get started with couple’s coaching here.
4. Most Effective Strategy – Become an Agent of Change
If the strategy of getting outside help is not working, you only have one last strategy left to cause behavior change in your partner. Or skip the other strategies and try this strategy first. This last and most effective strategy is for you to become an agent of change for your partner and your relationship.
How do you become an agent of change? You become the kind of person around whom only honesty and authenticity happens. You become the kind of person who takes care of your own needs first. You become the kind of person who acts kindly yet strategically in a relationship. As you become that kind of person your partner will have no choice but to make changes around. If he or she loves and values your relationship, there will be behavior change.
How do you implement this strategy? You can do it on your own by working on being courageous, honest and kind in your relationship — but know that it will be a struggle.
Or you can do it with my help. You can start with the Get Clarity Coaching Session, in which we can chart your course for relationship change.
Other information about effectively causing behavioral change in your partner:
1. A good way to avoid needing to deal with trying to change your partner’s behavior is to pick a partner who is a good match for you. It helps enormously if your partner has a fair amount of self-understanding and is willing to try to make changes when they are necessary.
2. You cannot nag, bully, cajole, threaten, manipulate, play games with or rage at your partner to get behavior change. The more of this you do, the less likely you are to get the change you want from your partner. Acting in this way makes it difficult for your partner to even admit that changes are needed, much less to make the effort involved in changing behavior.
3. You need to learn how to take care of yourself, so that you are ok no matter what your partner may be doing or not doing. If you are working on your own issues and making sure that your own needs are being met, you will be more confident, supportive, loving, and patient even in a relationship that needs a lot of work.
There you have it. Now you know when it’s appropriate to ask your partner to change his or her behavior, and you have a range of strategies that can help effect change in your partner’s behavior and your relationship.