Continued from Part 1
Your attempts at change were halfhearted
Sometimes when there is a lack of improvement, it is because when you’ve experimented with a technique, you only did halfheartedly. If your heart isn’t in it when you approach your spouse, your spouse will think you are acting and will immediately see through what you’re trying to do. S/he might feel manipulated, and therefore, not respond in a positive manner.
If doing things halfheartedly fails to bring about good results, why do people do it? Sometimes it’s because the technique they choose doesn’t feel right to them. They’re just doing it because they think they should. That’ not a good reason to do anything. You need to feel comfortable with what you’re doing. It must make sense to you. You have to get behind what you’re doing. If a particular technique feels artificial, choose something else.
Another reason people do things halfheartedly is that, although they might not be admitting it to themselves, they are still playing the blame game. They don’t really want to accept responsibility for tipping over the first domino. They still want their spouses to change first. So, they go through the motions of change but don’t allow themselves to fully get into their new solution-oriented modes.
If you have been feeling lukewarm about the strategies you’ve been using, I want you to be totally honest and ask yourself, “Am I still holding out hope that my spouse will see the light and change first?” Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are really working on your marriage if that little inner voice is shouting, “S/he’s wrong, let him/her change first.” You are only wasting time. You first need to rid yourself of that distraction before you can do anything constructive about your marriage. Unless you put your heart and soul into changing your marriage and stop keeping score, your marriage will be in exactly the same place five years from now that it is now, or you will have no marriage at all.
You reverted to your old ways
In this case, it is clear that the technique you’re using has some merit, but you accidentally slid back into your old ways, thereby prompting your spouse to do the same. Then, when you observe both of you doing the same old thing, you incorrectly assume that what you are doing isn’t working and you get discouraged. In reality, it’s not that the technique you are using isn’t working, it’s just that it doesn’t work when you don’t use it! Here’s an example.
Through using this program, Andrea and Wally figured out that they got along a lot better when they used a budget to guide their financial expenditures. For a long time they were doing just that. Their finances improved and they were getting along famously. As a result, with each passing week, they found themselves becoming more and more lax about doing sticking to their budget. After all, they told themselves, “How will this one little extravagant purchase hurt?” So they started splurging a little. One small purchase turned into another small purchase, and before they knew it, their spending was out of control again. Their fighting resumed with a vengeance.
Andrea and Wally felt discouraged and assumed that their budget wasn’t working until they realized that the real problem wasn’t that their budget hadn’t worked, but that they had become lax in their efforts to stick to it. With a little reminder, they were up and running again, and they got back on track.
Back to you for a moment. If at any time during your participating in this program you noticed even slight improvements, it means you were doing something worthwhile. If the progress has slowed or even halted, it means you’ve probably stopped doing what works. Force yourself to resume doing what was working and see if that makes a difference. It probably will.
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