It takes two to tango- a common expression and actually literally true. You cannot tango by yourself. However, when it comes to marriage, each partner has a lot of power to make a positive impact on the marriage and on each other. Personally, I want my wife to be willing to grow and improve and be the best wife she can possibly be. However, I do not ever want to put myself in a position where I am waiting for her to improve the marriage. Why would I do that? Why would you want to do that? Well there is a reason- we have learned to be reactors to the conditions of our life. We act like life is happening to us and that we are victims of life’s circumstances including a less than ideal committed relationship.
But what if life is not happening to us but instead life is happening through us?
What if the way to have my wife be more of what I want her to be, I need to be more of the husband SHE wants ME to be? What if I can change my destructive or less than healthy patterns and ultimately bring out the best in her? What if I do not have to wait for her to have the relationship of my dreams and that by changing myself- she changes along with me?
I am not saying here that it is only up to me. I am saying that as I improve by becoming more healthily vulnerable, a better listener, trustworthy, thoughtful and kind that she has a much easier pathway to become more of those same positive qualities. As I become a better listener, she becomes a better expresser. As I became more appreciative and complimentary, she does things that make me appreciate her more. As I get more curious and interested in her inner world, preferences and feelings, she gets more interested in mine. As I attend to her sexual needs, she attends to mine.
I know in some relationships, one person is resistant to change even when the other is. That does happen and your changing for the better may catalyze the end of that relationship. However, in most relationships as one partner increases his or her capacity to give and receive love, the partner follows suit.
Claim your power and experiment with not waiting for your partner to change. Be open when typically you want to close. Listen to his or her pain when typically you shut the person off by shutting yourself down. Experiment with a more loving and kind way of expressing your grievances. Look for the positive in your partner. Then observe how your partner is responding. Is your partner giving you more of what you want? In most cases, the answer to that question will be yes. You do make a difference. It does take one to make a marriage. If your partner responds more flexibly, and shows a capacity for change as well, now you can have a more enjoyable interpersonal dance together whether you dance the Tango or not.