Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Step One: Choosing the Right Partner

Day one of How To Make Your Husband Do What You Want (HTMYHDWYW or WYW for short)
Let's just start with the basics. 
Square One. First Step.
You cannot change your husband. 

I'll say it again because I don't think people realize this like they think they do. 
You CANNOT change your husband. 
 Only he can do that. If he wants. 

The long and the short of it is: you get what you marry. So choose wisely.

So what's a woman to do when she's looking for her husband to want to clean the dishes? Or to run errands in his free time? Or cook dinner without being asked?
Unless these things happened before marriage I can almost guarantee they won't happen after marriage barring a drastic change on someone's part.

Let's just call an apple an apple and collectively realize that marriage is not a magic threshold which you step over and become a completely different person. Things are not drastically different between the two of you. 

I think we've built up this nigh unattainable expectation of what men (and women) should automatically do after the ring slips on the finger. Once the vows are exchanged women waltz off to maintain the household and men spend their days providing and supporting- monetarily or otherwise. Or maybe that was just me. 

No matter how many times you cajole or plead or guilt, your man will not magically start fulfilling your expectations of the perfect man just because the wedding is over. We don't even have to call out men specifically here- wives are just as guilty of this as husbands.
To get him to do what you want you first need to ask yourself- is this the right man? Does he have the same marital and relationship goals as I do? Will he comfort and strengthen me? Will he protect and support me in my decisions? You won't be able to rationalize a change of heart with a husband who has no intention of changing.

Despite our rockin' relationship, Mr. E and I were adamant about pre-marital counseling. We were young and came from very different backgrounds, so we wanted to be serious about the commitment we were going to make. Plus, having a third party mediate some of our more intense conversations was incredibly helpful. Granted, the results weren't that eye-opening since we're honest with each other. After three years we had settled into a communicative dialogue, but it was an important step for us to commit to being on the same page regardless of how "in love" we felt. We were both kind of bogged down with this nebulous idea that marriage solved problems, brought us closer together and would be all around awesome. And this was kind of true. We sort of focused on the same things, enjoyed similar tastes and had goals and priorities that meshed rather than clashed. What we learned was how to communicate effectively and understand what the expectations were for ourselves and for each other. 

Marriage isn't a solution for a relationship that is not entered into mutually. You can't assume bad habits are erased, that apathy will be discarded for enthusiasm or that feelings will change once you're hitched. 

Because we talked about our expectations neither of us was really hit with any surprises after marriage: Mr. E sits on the couch and plays video games online with his brother while I'm stirring stir-fry and wiping counters. I chose a partner with the mostly full knowledge that his habits and interests weren't going to change after August 2011, and Mr. E did the same. I still hold deep grudges and want a clean bathroom, but Mr. E wasn't side-lined with a passive aggressive Lysol-Nazi come Marriage Day One.

The best advice I ever received was two-fold. 
First, that you choose who you fall in love with. In fact, you make that choice everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. Ultimately the only person keeping you in a marriage is yourself- your beliefs, your convictions, your choice to continue (or not) loving your husband. 

The second, is that you should always give 110% to your partner. If you're focused on each other the rest will fall into place. So instead of fighting against the nature of your husband, frustrating yourself and your partner, understand that you get what you have always had. Marriage doesn't change his personality.

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Mrs. E