In part 1 of this blog (which you can read here), I wrote about the pressure some of you wives may feel to come up with the list of behaviors that your husband needs to change. I encouraged you to take inventory of where he’s gone wrong and what needs to change and share that list with him. When your husband steps up to the plate to take responsibility for his own behavior, he sets a much more effective stage for healing.
If he does not take any responsibility, and, instead, leaves it up to you to define the needed changes to make your marriage safe and desirable, the question then becomes “What do I do now?”
The answer isn’t easy, and it involves taking enough of an emotional step back to observe what he puts on his list and how he follows through.
Pay attention to his markers for change
- His own internal motivation to change—If you are his motivation, then the changes will last only as long as you are prodding him along.
- What happens when he doesn’t get what he wants—If he is simply working to get a favorable response from you, he’s missing the point.
- What he does when he fails—There is no room for excuses anymore.
- Who is responsible for “catching” the failures—He should be hypervigilant about his behavior and the necessary changes. When he fails, it will mean exponentially more to you if he catches his bad behaviors, rather than you having to point them out.
- How does he regroup and refocus—You need transparency from him but should not be his mentor or accountability partner.
- What standard is used to determine what is “working”— Is this just about appeasing you? Or is his character growth and heart change the goal and standard?
Don’t Ignore Your Own Healing
As you are watching for those markers, you can be doing your own work to heal and grow as well. It will look like guarding your own heart, so that it isn’t being silenced, squashed, or turned into a bitter mess. A huge part of the work is rebuilding your own sense of self, identifying who you are and what direction your path is taking you.
You will also get good practice grieving, so I recommend you learn to grieve well—not only the tangible losses, but the intangible hopes, beliefs, dreams, and the reality of who he is showing himself to be. Don’t deny reality. Look at what you’re feeling, what you’ve lost and how you’ve been changed by this. Use it to better inform what steps to take next. And remember, you don’t have to figure it all out for him. You’ve told him what’s wrong a million times; now it’s time for him to step up to the plate.
Do you want lasting change in your marriage?
We can help bring that about in our online program for couples, Path of Renewal. Together with your spouse, you’ll work toward healing deep wounds, gain new tools for communicating with empathy, and becoming the couple you want to be!