If Only He Would Change| Wash Your Mouth Out Wednesdays
This edition of Wash Your Mouth Out Wednesdays is sponsored by Throwback Thursdays. I was just too tired to finish it up yesterday, so for that, I apologize. But let’s begin:
Why in the world do people get married thinking that they will be able to change the bad habits of their other half? These same people also walk around thinking that they can change other peoples’ minds during the course of an everyday conversation. Why?
While it is simply not true that people do not change, because they do, it is only under certain circumstances. First, people have to agree that a change needs to be made. Second, they have to care enough about what you (or someone else) think(s) in order to make this change in their own lives. And third, they have to be a strong enough person not to eventually fall back into their old patterns. But then there is also the option that sometimes people change unexpectedly, for reasons we could not have predicted.
What happens when people change suddenly? How would you react if your wife came home from work to announce, quite unexpectedly, that she doesn’t want to be an attorney any longer? You’ve been a stay-at-home Dad for ten years, so now what? This wasn’t in your master plan, and she never gave you any indication that this might be coming. Do you think you could change her mind back, so that she would call her boss and beg to be reinstated in her former job?
When my husband and I were married many years ago, we were very different people than we are now. We both worked full-time, finished college, bought a house, and then moved again before starting a family 11 years into our marriage. Even though we were slightly older than our fellow students, we both went through that discovery phase of college together, each growing in our own ways. Looking back, sometimes I feel that it is amazing that we are still together after all that personal growth and change. We each must be very patient and understanding folks to have hung in there through the thick and the thin, which were sometimes very unequally distributed.
Just this week, my mother asked me whether she has any habits that drive me crazy. You see, she’s reading a book on the subject of parenting, how we inherit our parents’ parenting skills, using those with our own offspring. I didn’t want to answer, but I finally told her that she is “insistent.” She totally understood that answer, and agreed. She then told me that she thinks I am too passive. She is not the first person to have told me this, and I agreed with her as well. I also told her that one of the reasons that I am passive is because she is so insistent. Imagine that. Sometimes it’s best to not argue, because I know that’s how she is, and that she isn’t going to stop being that way. I may as well try not to get my underwear in a jam about it, because it just is. I don’t love her any less for this character trait, but instead, I just accept it, and can even laugh about it. It’s not a deal-breaker for me.
I’m passive because, really, there aren’t that many decisions that make much of a difference to me. Where do you want to eat? Whatever you want is fine. You’d rather join CostCo than Sam’s? No problem. You want to cancel our weekend plans to stay home and work in the yard? Fine by me. I think our son is old enough to get his own iPad for his birthday. Really? I’m not sure about that.
Usually, if someone feels more strongly than I do about something, I just go along with it, as long as I am not vehemently opposed to the suggestion. What’s the use in arguing anyway? Disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing? Arguing, knowing that the rest of the day will be miserable? No, I instead choose to say, “Okay,” and go along while making the most of it. You don’t want to have the birthday party at our house? Okay, the kids will probably have just as much fun at the park, and there will be shade. Great! I am not passive because I am scared of ruffling feathers. I am passive because I am sort of an apathetic person at heart. There are a few things about which I feel strongly, but everything else is shades of “meh.”
I am glad that those who love me have dealt fairly well with my changes over the years. I hope that I can do this in kind with other people I know who are experiencing life changes. Some people will never change, but few of us ever change who we are at the core. Even if I have a bad habit that drives ME crazy, and know that it drives other people crazy too, the chance of my casting that habit aside is small. I can quell it to some extent, but I will always have that proclivity.
So, unless you want to personally confirm that the latest version of Lever bath soap doesn’t really taste like cucumbers and aloe, then don’t tell me how someone just needs to change. It is you, my friend, who needs to change. You need to understand that all the hoping in the world will not make it so. Once you realize this and accept it, then you will live a happier life, avoiding battles that are not yours to fight, and worrying about opinions that differ from yours. If someone in your life requires so much change that the possibilities occupy your days and nights, then maybe the change you need is directly related to the fact that you have that person in your life to begin with.