While it is true that some people do experience immediate changes in their relationships, it’s also true that, in most marriages, change takes much longer. How much longer? It depends on many factors: the severity of the problems, personalities of the spouses, length of time people have been experiencing difficulties, each spouse’s level of motivation to do what it takes to make a marriage work, outside influences from extended family and friends, and the level of both partners’ problem-solving skills. Every marriage is different.
But the consistent message I’ve gotten from those in the trenches is that patience is not only a virtue, it’s an absolute necessity. Resign yourself to the fact that improving your marriage might take weeks rather than days, or months rather than weeks. This will help you avoid becoming disappointed if results aren’t as immediate as you had hoped. Furthermore, you need to know that you can expect your good days and your bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. Sometimes, you’ll feel as if you are really out of the woods, and then a day later, you’ll feel as though you are back to square one. That’s how change happens. You must expect these hills and valleys and teach yourself not to get despondent. Resist feeling sorry for yourself. Just remember that, chances are, tomorrow will be a better day.
You also need to keep in mind that even if you’ve been doing everything right, your spouse is likely to be suspicious if you’ve changed a great deal. S/he might think that you are just putting on an act to try to win him/her over. This is natural, and if your spouse expresses this doubt, don’t be reactive. Just quietly tell your partner that is the new you, and that you plan on remaining this new person no matter what happens to your marriage. Reassure your spouse that you can fully understand his/her skepticism. As long as you keep on track, your spouse will eventually see that this is the “new you,” and not some impostor.
The bottom line is that you should take comfort in the fact that you are being proactive about improving your marriage. Even if you have a ways to go, at least you’ve started the journey, and that’s more than a lot of people can say.
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