Licking your elbow. Herding cats. Nailing jello to the wall. All things that could be considered a waste of time and effort. Let’s add changing your spouse’s personality to that list.
Here’s the thing: your personality doesn’t really change. It tends to stay stable over time, which makes sense. It’s what makes you you. Sure, certain facets might modulate slightly as you pass from adolescence into adulthood or as you gain more life experience and perspective, but by and large – personality stays the same.
Most of us know this, logically. But we’re human, and we inevitably find ourselves wishing our partner was a little less this or a little more that. We get annoyed and frustrated. We wish they’d think or do things differently. However, when you shift to a mindset of acceptance, some really positive things happen in your relationship.
You appreciate each other more.
When you divert your energy away from attempting to change aspects of your partner’s personality, you have more available to notice, (re)discover, and appreciate their many positives. There’s a reason that you fell in love with them in the first place, right? Putting those rose-colored glasses back on helps reset your perspective. Instead of seeing a need to be the life of the party, you notice how they help everyone have fun and feel at ease. Instead of focusing on how they seem to run on their own time, you take in how they are always present in the moment. Feeling and expressing this appreciation kicks off a cyclical response that emanates throughout your interactions.
You learn to leverage your differences.
When you stop seeing each other’s traits as a challenge to overcome and instead as a way to be stronger together, you can make beneficial adjustments in other areas of your relationship. Maybe you adjust your roles and responsibilities to better suit your strengths. Perhaps you tackle a new project that you weren’t sure how to approach, or you’re able to work together as parents in a way you never did before. Ultimately, working with your differences can help you become a more confident, capable, and harmonious couple.
Your satisfaction gets a boost.
The desire to change aspects of your spouse’s personality is rooted in an expectation that they should or shouldn’t be a certain way. When we feel like our partner isn’t living up to those expectations, it can cause conflict and resentment. It stands to reason then, that letting go of those expectations (or adjusting them to be more realistic) will help you be less critical of each other, cut down on unnecessary fighting, and feel more satisfied in your relationship overall.
You grow together.
When you stop focusing on each other’s perceived flaws, it feels like a weight lifted. Think about it: when you feel judged or criticized, you go into defensive mode. When you feel wholly accepted and appreciated, you’re more apt to be vulnerable with each other about your own inner struggles. Being able to talk to and support each other in this self-reflection is game-changer when it comes to experiencing personal growth throughout your relationship.
Most of us don’t go into marriage thinking “I do” will be the magic words that make annoying traits disappear. For the most part, we love and accept our spouse for who they are. Over time, though, certain characteristics can lose a bit of their shine. We start focusing on the parts of our spouse’s personality that rub us the wrong way. We think the solution might be in how they can change, when really, the answer lies in ourselves: no longer putting energy into trying to change each other and instead leaning into acceptance and appreciation.