Every family and marriage has areas that need improvement. But it’s easy to fall into the trap outward focus. It can be easy to push blame on another person or a certain situation, especially when you are dealing with additional stress from a remarriage, divorce or other significant family change. As we all have heard so many times, we can’t change others but we can change ourselves. But what does that mean when an outside influence or situation is causing drama, pain or disturbance?
Be Truthful With Yourself and Your Spouse
Take the time to realistically look at your current situation. Try to see if from an outside perspective or as if a friend was describing it to you. Are you, have you been, 100% in the right all of the time? Is there any piece of you harboring resentment or pain that may be influencing your responses and perspectives. Change without knowledge is not only difficult, it’s actually impossible. It’s never easy to receive criticism from anyone (including yourself) but try to look at it as a growth opportunity. Even if the only answer you receive is that you need to ignore stressful situations or respond more kindly. You may not be able to change others but you can change how they affect you.
If changes are needed in your own home, have a calm and open conversation with your partner or spouse. They likely see things from a different perspective and together you both can gain a clearer picture of where you are today versus where you want to be.
Invest in Your Future
I’m always surprised to hear when people don’t want to spend the money on therapy or marriage improvement but would be the first one to hire a divorce lawyer once things get tough. It’s human nature to spend your time and money on the things you view as priorities. Is your home and relationship a priority? There are plenty of low cost options for you from self-help books to online resources that can help you to improve your situation. And if needed, there are many counselors that will offer sliding scales or other payment options for therapy sessions. The statement – if there is a will, there is a way – is never more true than when it comes to the health of yourself and your family. Improvements and work today will make for a brighter tomorrow. Invest your time, energy and finances on your top priorities.
Be Patient and Kind
Sometimes there will be major issues that you need to address and there won’t be an easy or quick way to turn the ship. There are periods of trial and error in how to manage expectations, create better boundaries or balance and in how to conduct yourself overall. If you’ve identified areas needing change, commit to seeing them through. It may not be fixed in a few months or even a year. The biggest self-improvements take a commitment to always work on them. For example, if you want to become a better or more patient listener, that is something you will always have to be mindful of. It will get easier in time, but it has to remain a priority. Be kind to yourself and your family when in the midst of these change. When a mistake or mishap is made, clearly and calmly address it in a way that will not cause additional resentment or feelings of defensiveness. Remember that you are both on the same team and working towards the same goals.
Create New Habits
Many of the things we need to change have become habits in our lives. Whether it’s the tone used in conversation or a reoccurring distraction, we need to unlearn the things that are holding us back. By identifying the area of change, taking steps to improve it, and committing to the long haul, we can begin to create new, healthier habits in our lives and relationships. It won’t always be smooth sailing but regular, truthful check ins help to ensure you stay on track. Stay mindful of your goals and end game, it will help to keep you on the right path.