A few years ago, I saw a terrific show called, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” which, if I recall correctly, traced relationships between a man and woman from dating, through marriage, through child-rearing into and through old age. It was cute. It was funny. It was us. And it was, once again, disparaging the role of women in a man’s life. We are not all sculptors who feel we were handed a blob of hairy modelling clay that just happens to be full of testosterone. I actually loved my husband just the way he was…. Sort of.
I gave up trying to change anything about him within a year of our marriage. As we prepare to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary, and with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve learned that I had wasted a lot of time and energy, attempting to make him into something he’s not. Even if it did mean that giving up trying to get him to remember to put down the toilet seat would later result in many instances of me falling in; Even if it did result in a multitude of rush clean-up sessions (errant shoes, phantom socks, empty envelopes from the opened mail and whatever else got left right where he finished with it), because of an impromptu visitor.
I have taught him a few things along the way. (And he, me). For instance, I taught him not to end a sentence or a question with a preposition, especially professionally. It always sounded extremely unpolished to me when he would ask a potential client, “Where do you work at?” I also have broadened his gastronomic horizons. He no longer puts ketchup on everything. I think that’s where I have drawn the line.
What I refuse to give up on, however, is trying to get him to change himself… to be adventurous, open-minded and willing to try new things. The time in our lives when we had to be serious, responsible and passive, so that we could see to the needs of our children and our parents is over. We are still young enough to take a shot at something new and different, but that would mean making a change.
My husband is a very bright guy.
How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but the light bulb has to really want to change.