When your man is making bad decisions, it drags you down.
It’s like he’s broken, and since your fates are tied together by matrimony, that’s a lot of weight you’re pulling when your hands are already full.
You’d like him to start contributing more, so it’s logical to try to help him improve.
You’ve tried encouraging him and telling him where to focus his efforts or what he needs to do differently, but nothing changes.
You’ve tried giving him suggestions and teaching him what you know, but he doesn’t make much effort and you’re afraid he never will.
He continues to complain and seem depressed, distant or angry all the time. It’s incredibly discouraging.
And here you are, reading this post trying to fix it, even though you’re already doing all the work in this relationship. At least it feels that way.
I still remember how painful that is.
Turns out, there is something you can do that works, but it’s probably not what you think.
Here are 3 effective ways you can fix your husband.
1. Look for Ways He’s Succeeding
Your husband has many shortcomings, and right now, some of them are glaring.
Maybe he’s not helping out and it’s leaving you overwhelmed with too much work.
Or it could be that he’s a negative or hostile force causing unnecessary conflict in your home.
It could be that he’s just not doing the simple things you need in order to feel loved, like telling you he loves you or offering a kiss and a hug.
But your husband is also doing something right.
How do I know?
Nobody gets everything wrong 100% of the time. It isn’t possible.
He may be a jerk with the kids, but perhaps he’s also keeping an impeccable yard.
He could be wasting hours playing video games every day, but he is also working hard to support the family.
Or maybe he’s cold and distant, but he also cooks dinner some nights.
You might be wondering what focusing on the yard, the paycheck and the dinners has to do with what you’re missing from him, the things you need that are so much more important and so painful not to have.
Here’s the connection: Everyone needs acknowledgment. Without it, people get defensive, and when they’re defensive they’re not their best selves.
Just noticing his efforts to make your life better, however small, will do two great things: First, it will help you shift your focus to what you want instead of what you don’t want.
As a fringe benefit, he’ll feel appreciated and likely respond to you better.
If, like me, you’ve already tried the other way, where you tell him everything he’s doing wrong, and it didn’t work, what could it hurt to experiment with a novel approach?
What you focus on increases, so this a powerful way to change your experience for the better.
2. Treat “The Truth” as a Lie
One very practical way to change your focus is to come up with a Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy.
Now let’s turn it upside down to make it the experience you want to be having: “He’s very affectionate,” “He’s a gentleman,” or “He’s savvy with money,” for example.
Next, use the word “you” to start the sentence, as in “You’re very affectionate.” Write that down and read it to yourself. Start saying it to yourself and to him.
If you’re anything like me, it feels like a lie and your complaint feels like “The Truth.”
But the truth is pretty squishy, depending on your perspective.
As Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Thinking that your husband has a tragic flaw can contribute to making it so, in other words.
What if you pretend that “The Truth” is a lie and look for evidence to the contrary? Has he ever been affectionate, spoken gently or made a sound financial decision?
Of course he has. And if you open your eyes a little wider, you can find evidence that he is affectionate, gentle and responsible with money.
Trina’s main complaint was that her husband didn’t care about her. She had plenty of evidence for this, starting with how he never fixed any of the things that were making her crazy around the house and never noticed all the work she did, much less offered to help!
She came up with the Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy “You take such good care of me.”
When she first said it to him, she felt like a big faker. But not long after, when she was called for jury duty for a long trial far away, her husband offered to take her to the courthouse every day so she wouldn’t have to make the drive by herself.
She almost rejected that offer because she thought it was too much driving for him, but she caught herself and decided to receive.
When she thanked him, he responded by saying, “Of course. I always take good care of you.”
3. Resign from the Job of Fixing Him
Michaela’s husband, Tim, complained about his work almost every day. Being a therapist by trade and wanting to be a supportive wife, she listened sympathetically and asked questions to draw him out.
When he didn’t take any action to change his work situation, she grew weary of the conversation and wished he would just do something already so she wouldn’t have to keep listening to his heart-wrenching problems.
She realized that she had volunteered for a job she didn’t want: the job of fixing her husband. It was draining, it didn’t seem to be helping him and the pay was terrible.
The next time the topic came up, she listened briefly then said, “You’re so strong. You’ll figure this out” and changed the subject.
The conversation started coming up less. Not long after that, Tim told Michaela he planned to make a career change and was looking into some options.
She was amazed that honoring herself not only saved her from feeling drained but also prompted action by her husband, who was capable of fixing himself.
Your man can fix himself too, and there’s something magical about trusting him to do that.
Therefore, consider resigning as his mother, life coach, therapist, business consultant or parenting expert.
You might wonder how you’ll ever get the things you want by changing your focus, acting as if he’s already the way you want him to be, or trusting him to run his own life.
That’s exactly what this blog is all about–you getting the support, the connection and the passion you’re craving.
And that’s exactly what I see happen again and again when women who are struggling in troubled relationships try these experiments.
Which of these 3 “fixes” will you experiment with this week? I’d love to hear in the comments below.