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  • Friedhelm (Counsellor)

HOW TO FORCE YOUR SPOUSE TO CHANGE

No, this is not the wrong way of thinking. There comes a time that if you do not force an issue, you will end up paying a heavy price. You will end up in a dead end street. You will be in a place where everything is irreparable broken; a place where people consider giving up on a relationship or even on life itself. At the very least you will find you have by then no willpower left, no energy to change things around. That’s when people's’ eyes go dead for they have numbed feelings. Then movements slow down and becomes retarded. When you get to the end of this road, it will dawn on you that you should have done something about this much, much earlier. To find an excuse to not tackle the issue was a costly mistake. If you would have tried to force change earlier, the damage could not have been greater than the end result.


Can we leave important things as unsatisfactory as they are? Should we submit to behavior in a relationship which destroys love, respect and intimacy? Can we for ever ignore a spouse that does not care about his or her destructive actions? It is in our interest, to take drastic steps to stop actions which destroy the marriage by i.e getting drunk regularly, preferring porn rather than love making or the emotional or sexual involvement with someone else.


When you ignore an oil warning light on the dashboard of your car, you better stop the car and do something about it. When you smell your food burning on the stove you better get up and do something.


Of cause we are not talking about abuse or violence. Violence in any form is never a good thing and should never be advocated. Yelling, shouting or raving achieves seldom a desired result. It only generates hate, resentment and distance. You have probably tried that already anyway and it did not work at all.


When are we supposed to get up and do something drastic about it? And what is the best way to go?


The answer to the first question is simple. It is time to do something drastic, when you had enough. It is time when you start to not care anymore. It is time when you don’t feel normal emotions anymore. That is the brink of the marriage cliff. Don’t surrender as if it is your fate. You will end with the worst kind of scenario.


What is one to do then? A spouse will often believe that he or she has no power to effect change and that someone else does like a friend, a family member or a pastor. That is good start but mostly ineffective. It often creates only temporal relief. For a short period of time things look better for the sake of appearances. And then comes the relapse and it is back to normal, sometimes even worse.


There are two things you have got to understand regarding the dynamics of addictive behavior.

1) Addictive behavior will only stop, when confronted with a serious and a

genuine ultimatum. That is the choice of losing what he or she cannot afford

to lose or does not want to lose. And it should not be a scare or an empty

thread either. It cannot be a bluff or perceived as one. If the ultimatum is:

“If you keep on doing this, I will...,” the promised consequences will have to

follow. If not, what is taught and learned was: Nothing will happen. You don’t

need to take me seriously.

Think about it. Why should anyone stop unacceptable behavior if he or she can get away

with it? It is often not even enough that a person knows for sure what he or she will lose. In many cases, the loss itself has first to be felt. Getting a divorce notice makes things real.

2) Recognize that the only person who probably has power over your spouse is the spouse. That's you. The force needed to effect change can only come from you yourself. The culprit does not have to listen to anyone else. They mostly can't take away what he or she loves.


Life in our other relations will force us to choose. When we can’t stop stealing at work we will lose the job and our income. When we can’t stop drinking we will lose our health or end up in jail for driving under the influence. If we can’t stop spending money we don’t have or earn, the debt collector will come and collect your stuff. Life does not allow us to keep on doing the wrong thing for too long.


It is like weighing scales. Put the scales up into his or her face. In the one scale you put the bad behavior. In the other the things he or she values highly and does not want to lose. Force the choice. The choice is always ours. But the choice we don’t have, is to keep both, the destructive behavior and what we perceive as our treasure.


And should the wrong choice be made consistently, you should consider packing and go.




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