Can I Get My Partner To Change?
By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
|How much energy do you spend trying to get what you want
from your partner? Think about it for a moment - how much of your
thinking time is spent on what to say to your partner to get him or her
to be the way you want him or her to be?
Many of us spend a lot of time thinking about how to get what we want
from our partner - how to get our partner to open up, be more caring,
see us, love us, pay attention to us, spend time with us, have sex with
us, and so on. We spend at lot of energy trying to get what we want from
our partner because we believe that if only we do it right - behave
right or say the right thing - we can have control over getting our
partner to change. This illusion of having control over getting another
to change keeps us stuck in behavior that not only does not work to get
us what we want, but drains us of the energy we could be using to learn
to take loving care of ourselves.
It is very hard to accept that we can’t “get” others to do what we
want them to do, even if it would be good for them and for the
relationship. In my counseling work with people, I frequently hear:
“How can I get my husband to read your books?’
“How can I get my wife to be more sexual?”
“How can I get my husband away from the TV to spend time with me?”
“How can I get my wife to be on time?”
“How can I get my husband to talk with me about our problems?”
“How can I get my wife to spend less money and write the checks into
“How can I get my husband to clean up after himself?”
“How can I get my wife to stop being angry?”
“How can I get my husband to stop blaming me for everything?”
Everyone wants to know, “How to get my partner to change?” The truth
is, you can’t.
What you can do is take your eyes off your partner and put them on
yourself. You have total control to change yourself, and no control to
change your partner. The question you need to be asking yourself is,
“What do I need to do for my own well-being if my partner doesn’t
“Do I need to stop reacting to my partner with compliance, resistance,
withdrawal, blame, lectures, explanations, nagging or anger?”
These protective, controlling ways of responding to conflict will always
exacerbate the conflict and make us feel badly within. The wounded part
of us believes we can get love and avoid pain with these protective
behaviors, but in reality it is often these behaviors that are actually
causing our own pain. None of these behaviors are loving to ourselves,
nor are we taking personal responsibility for our own feelings and
well-being when we behave in these controlling ways.
“In what ways do I need to be more loving, caring, understanding and
attentive to myself - to my own feelings?”
Often we project onto our partner the inner unhappiness that results
from not taking loving care of ourselves. Instead of trying to get our
partner to me more loving, open and attentive, we need to focus on being
open, loving, kind and attentive with ourselves and with our partner.
“Do I need to take specific action, such as changing the way we handle
money, or the way we deal with getting places on time? How can I take
care of myself in these kinds of conflicts so that I don’t feel like a
Anytime we blame another for our unhappiness, we are being a victim.
Moving out of being a victim means taking loving action for ourselves so
we are no longer frustrated with the situation.
“Do I need to be willing to explore with my partner the underlying
reasons for a lack of intimacy or sexuality? Am I willing to be open to
learning with my partner, or am I stuck in just trying to control?
Opening to learning with your partner can be magical regarding creating
intimacy and resolving conflict. While you cannot make your partner be
open to learning, if you open to learning yourself, you might discover
the power you have to change your relationship.
When you move out of seeing yourself as a victim of your partner’s
behavior and into taking loving action on your own behalf, you may be
surprised at the changes that occur in the relationship. Most conflict
is stuck in power struggles that result from each person trying to
control with some form blame, anger, resistance, withdrawal, or
compliance. When you stop your end of the power struggle and start to
take care of yourself, as well as open to learning with your partner,
the possibility opens for great change to occur.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight
books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?"
She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process.
Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding
Phone sessions available.
Cheap Thrills -
Family Entertainment on a Budget by
|1) Be patient and wait to see new movies on video. Some
communities even offer free video rentals at local libraries and will
order new movies if library patrons request a certain title.
2) Check to see if there are any discount movie theaters in your area.
Most of these places show movies just before they're released to video.
A family of four can go out for an evening at the movies and only spend
around $10 for a fun family outing. Keep a list of movies you want to
see, and then check the discount theater listings each week. These
theaters often keep the movies for just one or two weeks, so stay alert
to what's playing.
3) Go to the first show of the day at first-run theaters for the best
prices (and shortest lines!).
4) Check your area for free days at museums, zoos, etc.
5) Rather than buying separate admissions to different educational or
fun family destinations, buy one yearly family pass to either the zoo,
the aquarium, or a theme park. Go repeatedly to that one place each time
you want a family outing. You will easily save the cost of the family
admission, plus you'll have the benefit of not feeling pressured to see
everything in one day. You can always see what you missed the next time
you come. Next year, buy a pass somewhere else.
6) Check for free concerts, plays, and other live family entertainment
in local parks.
7) Call and find out if your local college stage production group,
ballet or orchestra will let you watch them rehearse for free.
8) If you want to eat at an expensive restaurant, go for lunch rather
than dinner. The menu is usually the same, but the prices are often
9) When dining out, drink water only. Ask for a lemon or lime wedge if
you want to make your drink seem special. This trick can easily cut $10
off your family's total dining bill, which could mean the difference
between going out for a fun meal or staying home eating frozen egg rolls
10) Go fly a kite. Literally!
11) Make the most of any available student discounts. Show your child's
school ID at museums, zoos, galleries, theaters, etc.
12) Instead of an expensive day of professional sports, go to a high
school or community college game.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
--Deborah Taylor-Hough (wife and mother of three) is the author of the
new book, Frugal Living For Dummies(r), and Frozen Assets: Cook for a
Day, Eat for a Month. Be sure to visit Debi online and subscribe to one
of her free ezines at: http://hometown.aol.com/dsimple/
The Better Behavior
Wheel - A New Kind of Calm in the Family
by Julie Butler
|The following review was written by Gina Ritter, a personal
life coach for parents and publisher of the Busy Family Network of sites
. She lives in New York with her husband and three boys (who also spin
in the kitchen).
|There's a new kind of fun and calm out there in the name of
the Better Behavior Wheel, invented by Julie Butler and her family in
central British Columbia. In an interesting twist on charts and
discipline, this versatile wheel can be hung on a wall or toted with you
in the car and on vacations.
It's a way to get whole family involvement, and a little bit of humor to
get us over the discipline bumps. Kayla Fay, publisher of Who Put the
Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet? says, "This is the proverbial
spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down! Only a loving parent
could come up with such an effective way to discipline children."
As the Wheel Turns
Originally, the wheel sprang from constant battles between Julie's 9-
and 12-year-old children, David and Laura. With battles raging in their
home, Julie and her husband decided they must find some way to keep the
peace. Julie says, "We hated the atmosphere of tension that would
invariably follow these exchanges. Our once happy home was being turned
into a war zone, and it felt like there were land mines scattered
beneath our feet. One night, in desperation, we called the kids into the
living room and told them how upsetting their behavior was. We asked
them for suggestions on how we could restore peace and serenity back
into the family."
The kids were sent to their room to come up with at least six
appropriate consequences for their next fight. David and Laura presented
the family with consequences like:
Clean the other person's room
Do dishes for the other person
Make the other person's bed for a week
Lend your favorite CD or game to the other person for a week
Make a list of ten good things about the other person
Hug and make up….
These suggestions were arranged around the perimeter of a board, and a
spinner attached to the middle. The premise was that the spinner would
choose the consequence for them, and they would hang the board in plain
view in the kitchen. Julie remembers, "We crossed our fingers, and
waited. And waited. It was amazing. Just the presence of the board,
hanging on our kitchen wall, had an instant calming effect on the
atmosphere in our home. Occasionally we'd see one of the kids standing
in front of the board, idly flicking the spinner, checking it out. But
the fighting had stopped."
Of course, the battle was won, but not the war. Ten days later, the
fighting began again, but this time they were prepared. Says Julie,
"We called them both into the kitchen, took the board down off the
wall, and placed it on the table. They knew what they had to do. How
could they refuse? They chose the consequences. They practically
invented the board. It landed on the most dreaded consequence of all:
Hug and make up!"
Once the fighting subsided, Julie realized there were other behaviors
she also wished to curb. "It seemed like the kids were always
leaving the lights on when they left a room. Or they'd leave the TV on
when they went to bed. Why not make another wheel with consequences
related to wasting electricity?"
Eventually, eight themes were added:
Leaving the Lights On
Not Putting Things Away
A Job Poorly Done
Stretching the Truth
Taking Without Asking
Wheel of Just Desserts (rewards)
Forty-eight consequences and 16 rewards are printed on peel-and-stick
paper with colorful eye-catching graphics, enabling parents to customize
the wheel to meet their family's needs. Just cut them out and stick them
on. It's very easy to make up your own consequences and themes.
Interestingly, Julie says the wheel lowers her stress, keeps the
consequences appropriate, and removes parents from the "Bad
Guy" label. In the past, she and her husband would have to
repeatedly ask David to do something, only to hear him say, "I
know." This would come to a boil, and in anger they would yell and
exact a punishment too harsh for the infraction.
Now, the wheel does all the work.
"David, it's 8:15; you haven't started the dishes yet. I'm afraid
we'll have to spin the wheel."
"I'm sorry, Dear. It's really not up to me. Those are the rules we
all agreed on. Gee, I hope you don't land on a really bad
Julie says, "The amazing thing is, we're no longer the bad guys. We
can actually root for the kids as they drag themselves up to the wheel.
It's no longer 'us against them'. It's the wheel that they have to
answer to. But the greatest thing of all is that we hardly ever have to
use the wheel. It hangs on the kitchen wall, acting as a watchdog and
The Butlers' website, www.better-behavior.com, shows some parents of
ADHD children have found the wheel to be a wonderful program. That is
great news for many! Every parent should work with their child's
personality and decide if the wheel is right for them, keeping in mind
that every program doesn't work with every child.
There are a couple of letters on Julie's site from parents asking for
help with children who are completely out of control. One mother says
her five-year-old "beats (his big sister), kills animals, curses,
and destroys everything in his path." Another mother said her
six-year-old adopted daughter has angry outbursts and goes in cycles.
She wondered what to do when her child refuses the consequences and it
starts another battle.
These are warning signs of something more serious than just a discipline
problem. Often, young children and teenagers exhibiting these symptoms
have a physical problem that can cause behavioral changes, such as
infections, Lyme Disease and thyroid problems. Mental disorders such as
early-onset bipolar disorder can also cause very similar symptoms and
must be diagnosed and treated immediately.
In these cases, the Dreaded Wheel of Consequences would not be
appropriate and medical intervention is needed immediately. For help,
contact your pediatrician and look for information on these diseases and
disorders on the Internet.
However, there is still a possibility that the wheel will be valuable
with a child who is stabilized. Again, parents will have to make the
decision to try the wheel according to each child.
The Last Word
Parents of children with normal behavior and discipline problems are
encouraged to try this wheel and have a little fun with discipline!
Bringing the whole family into the discipline decision-making is an
excellent way to work as a team and come to a peaceful solution. The
wheel isn't meant to exact negative punishment on a child, but rather
remind them to pick their battles and mind their parents.
Teachers and parents alike will find the wheel very useful in classrooms
and homes everywhere with children ages four and up!