Burst of Inspiration

#5. It’s Not Your Job to Change Your Spouse

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When they were dating, it was so exhilarating. He was always filled with energy, always moving. It filled her with a sense of excitement. Now, after three years of marriage, she finds his ADHD behavior vexing. He’s always late. He’s always forgetting things. He’s constantly bouncing checks. So she spends the next twenty years trying to change him.

When they were going out, he often felt gallant. She would get nervous, and he would step in to smooth things over and calm her down. He felt like a knight in shining armor rescuing the damsel in distress. Now they’re married for awhile and every erev Shabbos is high drama. When her parents come, the intensity of emotion goes into overdrive, and it seems that she’s just never calm. So he spends the next twenty years trying to change her.

There is a recurring theme in most marriages where both he and she spend an inordinate amount of time and energy attempting to change the other. And it never works. Most of the time it’s because these traits can’t be changed. ADHD is part and parcel of the make-up of an individual. Being high-strung is a disposition — not something chosen and not readily malleable. While there are certainly coping strategies that people can use to manage more efficiently, there are many core tendencies that just aren’t going to change.

Oddly enough, we all understand this. . . until it comes to our spouses. Then we feel a moral imperative to correct them, to straighten them out. And sadly, not only doesn’t it work, it becomes a friction point between couples where he feels aggrieved because she just doesn’t change, and she feels victimized because he demands that she become someone she’s not. It can remain a point of contention for years. Each one is trying their darndest to change the other one, and each one feels their spouse doesn’t accept them for who they are.

5th Really Dumb Mistake
And this is the fifth really dumb mistake that very smart couples make: they spend so much time and effort trying to change their spouse when it’s not their job to do so, and it never works anyway.

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