How to Work with Your Spouse’s Vices
“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
― Katharine Hepburn
Marriage is hard when you try to control who you are married to.
Marriage is hard when you try to force your marriage to fit the ideal in your head.
Marriage is hard when you think you can make your marriage into exactly what you want it to be.
It takes two hands to clap and it takes two to make a good (or bad) marriage.
Your way is not the right way, but if you believe it to be the only way, you are bound to have a lot of issues in your happily ever after story.
Just because your spouse performs tasks differently than you would, does not make them wrong. ‘Live and let live’ can go a long way in life.
Stop trying to change your partner.
You cannot love your spouse and control them at the same time.
You married who you married, so let’s not focus on their weaknesses, but rather applaud, highlight and encourage their strengths.
Quit trying to make your partner into someone who they are not.
Do not try to force them into living the life you would like them to live, simply because you believe it to be the ‘right’ way; if their system is working for them, let them be.
The important question is why do you want to change them?
If you have children, a pet or another priority that requires you to change your lifestyle to care for another, the request could be completely acceptable. However, if its simply because you wish for your partner to change a habit that bothers you, you should reconsider the battle.
For example, if you want your partner to stop sleeping in on Saturday mornings and join you for your weekend five-mile run, my first question would be, why?
Perhaps that extra sleep is your partner’s most important form of self-care.
Perhaps that time apart, on Saturday morning, is really healthy for your relationship, but you have simply not realized its strength.
Perhaps you forcing someone to do something they do not want to do would take a lot of effort, which would start your weekends off on the wrong foot.
The bigger question is why do you want them to join you? Is it truly for their best interest or yours?
Once you figure out why you want your partner to change, you will have more clarity on the situation.
Once you have clarity, you can assess and discuss the situation calmly with your spouse.
See where your partner struggles and succeeds and work around those parameters.
Maybe they are not the best in the morning, leaving you to get the kids ready, pack lunches, make breakfast and make yourself look somewhat presentable as well, but maybe they are a maven of the evening.
Utilize this strength by having them lead bathtime, make dinner and do some light cleaning, after sundown.
Instead of forcing your spouse to get up early, which will make them grumpy and get the day off on the wrong foot, you can utilize their midnight oil to have them prepare for the forthcoming day.
When you stop seeing what your partner doesn’t do and start seeing what they do, do you will begin to find solutions to problems instead of simply focusing on what isn’t working.
Change your thinking.
When you start seeing the good in your partner, instead of the bad, solutions will naturally begin to arise, which works for both of you.
Find the land of compromise and live there.
Okay, maybe your partner is a terrible cook and though they have tried and tried, they burn down the house when boiling an egg.
What is one to do?
Focus on the fact that you will forever be chained to the oven for the rest of your life?
Or focus on what your spouse is good at?
If your partner loathes a certain household chore or is simply really bad at it, find a solution that works well for both of you.
If your partner hates or is a terrible cook, maybe they take care of kitchen cleanup after every meal and you take care of the meal. Maybe they do the weekly grocery run and allow you two hours of blissful time alone at home with the television. Find something that is a fair and reasonable trade-off for being responsible for the family cooking every day.
“How to find a good spouse?
-the best single way is to deserve a good spouse.”
― Charles T. Munger
Be the person you want to live with and perhaps your example will be more powerful than your exclamations ever were.
Silence does not mean submission.
Remember that working with your spouse’s vices and learning to live in a house filled with more peaceful silences versus cold shoulders will not be an overnight success.
Pointing out every mistake they make in a day will not build them up, but break them down. Pointing out areas for correction, while also noting areas of improvement and strength are great at reestablishing a respectful relationship.
Gratitude goes a long way.
A ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ never killed anyone.
Remember to treat your partner better than you treat others.
Most of the time, we tend to treat those closest to use the absolute worst.
“The secret to a happy marriage is if you can be at peace with someone within four walls, if you are content because the one you love is near to you, either upstairs or downstairs, or in the same room, and you feel that warmth that you don’t find very often, then that is what love is all about.” — Bruce Forsyth
Marriage is a journey.
Marriage is not a competition with other couples.
To make your marriage work, focus on what you two are great at and work from there. Do not start trying to make progress from what is not working, but from what is and from your strengths, your weaknesses will transform, slowly, but surely.
Your marriage did not start a day ago, so it is going to take more than a day to fix it. Put in the time because this is your person and they deserve your genuine effort.