How to Change Your Partner

How many times have you tried to “change” your partner? Do you hint, nag, complain, guilt trip, intimidate, threaten, or give ultimatums?

We all do it! My husband used to use humor during serious conversations or sensitive moments. I would ask him to stop, but that would cause him to do it more. With a stronger tone, an angrier face and with firm posture I would tell him to stop. But that would make him pile it on all the more. Both of us failed to persuade each other make the change we were looking for in the other.

In my head, I would hear Dr. Phil asking, “How’s that working for you?”

I recently came across a new way of thinking regarding “changing” your partner, called the Michelangelo Effect.

In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at UC Riverside says, “In the most flourishing relationships partners evoke the best in each other, helping them come closer in reaching their ideal selves.” Michelangelo sculpted art with a block of marble. He created form out of the formless. “Partners evoking the best in each other and helping them come closer in reaching their ideal selves … has been termed the Michelangelo Effect.”

She outlines the principles guaranteed to bring change in you, your partner and your relationship.

  1. Admiration: Share something specific you admire about your partner.
  2. Appreciation: The relationship can be easily taken for granted. Directly express gratitude to your partner.
  3. Affection: Give your mate what they need to feel loved. Mix it up with verbal, physical, and acts of kindness.
  4. Celebrate each other’s good fortune, no matter how small: You let your partner know you respect and value their dreams at the same time encouraging them.

Lyubomirsky adds that “giving genuine praise to your romantic partner will encourage them to reach great heights” versus taking your partner for granted.

Amazing! We don’t change our partner by nagging and criticizing them. We change them by encouraging them and through the positive, they are molded, and sculpted into being the best they can be.

My husband and I learned something similar to the Michelangelo Phenomenon in a Relationship Education class and the skills helped us better communicate, listen, hear the other and change. The skills were our tools and instruments to mold and sculpt one another into better partners in a better relationship than I could have ever had.


Make Changes in Yourself and Your Relationship:

Written by Lucinda Loveland – Copyright (C) 2011 Healthy Relationships California

Lucinda manages public relations, social networking, and staff writing. Began career in Relationship Education since 2009 as an educator in both English and Spanish-speaking classes along with her husband of 8 years, Alfred Loveland. Lucinda is a trained facilitator in Mastering the Mysteries of Love,  The Third Option, World Class Marriage and Raising Kids Twogether.

Which one of the steps would be the easiest for you to try? Hardest one? What is your standard way to trying to change your spouse? How has that worked for you?How has your partner supported you in becoming your ideal self? How have you encouraged your partner to reach great heights? (Share with us below)

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