If We Can’t Change Our Partner


When we can't change our partner, it can feel like things are set in stone.

Many times, in relationships people ask their partner to try and change their behavior. This happens often where someone likes things done one way and the mate wants it done differently.

It would be just great if everyone in a couple were to say, “Fine, you do it your way and I will do it mine,” without any disagreement. But that is usually not the way humans are wired.

We Bring Our Learned Responses to Pain into Our Relationships

We bring the behaviors we learned from our families, as kids, into our future relationships.

We all grow up being trained by our caregivers and all of them have a very particular way of doing things. These people are our models for being adults. We learn our ways from them and then when we are in a relationship, we rely on what we have learned.

This shouldn’t be a problem, but it is. If we learned that when our feelings get hurt, we cry to our partner, they might feel confused by our emotions. If we get mad when we get our feelings hurt then they might want to defend themselves or argue back.

All of us bring our habits of daily lives into the relationship with our partner. Often if we didn’t learn manners, we might think that our mate is rude. Or if we didn’t learn how to apologize for what we might have done then our partner might feel stunned at what we didn’t learn.

What Happens When We Don’t Want to Change?

What about when one of us refuses to change, like this stubborn woman crossing her arms?

But what if the mate asks us to do something different and we don’t want to change? Then what? This is a real problem for a couple. Sometimes when two people love each other, each might think about the other, “Oh, if only they would do these things differently, then everything would be just perfect!”

And the partner might have their own list of what their mate should do to make the relationship perfect too. When two people square off and hold each other accountable for making the relationship difficult… Well, you can see where this ends up: both people are mad and resentful, because they feel their partner doesn’t love them enough to make the changes.

But here’s the rub. It is not up to one person to decide how the relationship should be. There are two people in a couple and both have a right to feel good about how the relationship should unfold.

Make Space for Your Partner to Be Themselves

Make space for your partner's differences, or even find ways to support them, and you can share happy experiences like the couple pictured.

There has to be a give and take among couples. I may not like what my husband does but if it is important to him, I will have to accept some of the things that are not to my liking. And guess what, he probably makes allowances for me too.

I am sure everything I do doesn’t always please him, but I do know he doesn’t hold those things against me. There is nothing worse than being told by your mate that they can’t stand this thing you do.

We all grow up differently. Make room for what your partner does. If there is something you would like changed, make sure you ask kindly. No one likes to think that they are a problem for the other. Make sure you make your beloved feel welcome. It’s better.


Get the Tools for Talking About Differences!

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how to communicate more softly, empathetically, and effectively by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help both of you communicate more kindly and effectively about your differences and help you grow towards deeper love and acceptance. Give it a read.

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