Recently, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal on Jan.7th entitled “Want to stop arguing and change spouse’s behavior” Start with Mirror.”
I found it absolutely fascinating because I had to learn this on my own in my own marriage.
Abe and I had been married for some years and sometimes, for no specific reason, I often found myself saying to him “You can do better!”
It could have been anything — nothing major — but perhaps not pushing me to be on time, whatever. It was usually nothing particularly vital or important, yet I remember how many times I used that expression to him.
And his response always was the same, “I am doing the best I can.”
And my response was always the same, “No, I think you could do better!” and his response was, again, always the same, “I am doing the best I can.”
Which always left me frustrated, nothing solved.
This went on for many years, I can tell you!
Then, one day, DING, I heard his same response differently. HELLO, IRENE, maybe he is doing the best he can? Just because I wanted him to “do better” didn’t mean that he could do anything different than what he was doing.
The next question for me was, “Can you accept that?”
And, I loved the guy! So he had a few faults and maybe….even I did, as well.
What happened after that for me and for him is interesting. I began to understand his behavior so much better, which was good, and I stopped making him feel bad that he wasn’t doing something “right.”
I had never realized until then, that every time I said, “You can do better!” I was making him feel inadequate; not able to come up to my standards.
I WAS NOT LISTENING TO HIM!
I am so glad that I eventually got to understand that about myself because this applies also to one’s children. Yes, it can spur someone on to do better, but it should also include an understanding of the person’s limits