This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.
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You can’t fix someone that doesn’t want to be fixed”
Adding to the quote:
Feeling broken, that I need fixed, something is wrong with me or I am not good enough is the worst feeling on the planet.
It is a natural human instinct to desire wholeness and acceptance, to be loved and appreciated for who we truly are. The fear of being seen as flawed or imperfect can have a tremendous impact on a persons mental and emotional wellbeing. The truth is, there is beauty in our brokenness, in our scars and imperfections. We humans connect with each other when we are vulnerable and admit to our errors, mistakes, pain, suffering and things we want to improve. It is through these cracks that the light can shine through, illuminating our strengths and resilience. Instead of fighting against our brokenness, we should embrace it as a part of our journey towards becoming a better person and come together and support one another.. It is in the process of healing and mending our broken pieces that we can truly find our strength and authenticity.
“This might be a phase in our marriage, but I feel compelled to take action, even though I know deep down that there is nothing I should do. I can sense that I still love my husband deeply because he is a part of me. I don't plan on ever leaving as I know the grass is never greener on the other side.
I find myself reminiscing about the past, recalling how we used to be when we were younger and deeply in love. However, as I observe him now, it seems like he has lost interest in taking care of his health and really letting himself go. This realization is difficult for me to accept because I know he has expressed his unwillingness to change in previous conversations. Perhaps the reason I am entertaining this thought is because he doesn't engage in physical activities like I do and I feel like he should too. I tend to compare myself to him. I can physically observe the positive effects on myself when I put in the effort and wish he understood that. It's frustrating that we seem to have little in common, especially now that the kids are becoming more self-reliant. I am now looking at my husband with concern. I simply wanted to convey these thoughts to my husband without creating a fight. How do I do that?”
My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions, I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.
I can sense how heavy all this seems for you, and it seems you want to best for your husband.
When we reminisce about the past it often builds on the already frustrating feelings we have and sets us into this imaginary story of helplessness. We can’t find solutions when we are swimming in thoughts of the past, AND wishing things were the way the used to be. We end up smack dab in the middle of suffering in our mind.
The bank account of goodwill likely needs some deposits and may need a bank loan. Understandably so the children took center stage for probably 2 decades, pretty common in marriages, and at this stage to start putting the focus back on getting to know your partner again.
When goodwill fades so does the relationship. Seeing your spouse with judgmental or critical eyes is the greatest form of destruction.
The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse Study, from The Gottman Institute, has boiled down four things that cause the greatest risk to a relationship.
This was a study of around 75 married couples. Four things that are often reactive, habits we may have learned somewhere in our life, that may seem ok, or normal to the person doing it. In my opinion, engaging in any of these on their own is harmful to any relationship and is an example of poor communication.
- #1 Criticism, treating someone with disrespect, disgust, condescension, or ridicule. It may involve mean-spirited sarcasm, mockery, sneering, or even name-calling. When your default or inclined to criticize, fault-find or point out problems. It makes the other person feel less than, rejected, and is hurtful. It’s surprises me how many new clients I work with see their words as “I am just helping them, they need to know.” This is why coaching is so important, we all have blind spots.
- #2 Contempt, When you look down upon the other person or feel that they are not worthy, or you don't respect them, don't hear their perspectives, their thoughts, feelings, and being righteous. When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean - we treat others with disrespect, mock them with sarcasm, (famously known) eye-rolling, condescending, ridicule, mimic or use closed-off body language and energy.
- #3 Defensiveness this super commonly used strategy doesn’t improve goodwill in any relationship EVER. It often starts a battle of debate, and each opponent dig deep into their position and fights to the bone. If you feel stressed out, tired and attacked, it is natural to want to defend yourself. However, this approach isn’t suggested. If someone continues to criticize you without backing down or apologizing, being defensive will only intensify the conflict. The energy you bring to the table is reflected back. If someone is being defensive, ask to understand their position. Put aside your position, for another day.
- #4 Stonewalling, and this is a pattern of behavior where the individual might put out their hand and say, "You know, we've already talked about that, and we don't need to talk about that anymore." Shutting down conversation, this is stonewalling. Refusing to communicate with another person and withdrawing from the conversation to create distance between the individual and their partner. It can leave the other person feeling misunderstood, frustrated, lost, not seen, valued, or important.
We all want to feel seen, important, and heard, so this tactic isn’t healthy communication, ever.
If any combination of these behaviors are present continuously in your marriage, you may be headed to separation or divorce within a decade at a 92% rate.
Assume they will never change, are you ok with that?
Couples with high levels of goodwill are insulated from adversity.
The Bank Account of Goodwill is:
You feel good around the other person. You look forward to seeing them and are excited to see them. You are able to speak openly about what's on your mind. When you think of them, it's in a positive way. They mean a lot to you and your thoughts towards them are kind and warm. There is ease and trust in your relationship with them. You feel warmth, love, kindness, compassion, appreciation, gratitude, and understanding.
Everyone is looking: TO FEEL GOOD.
You see when people feel good, they communicate well, they bring out the best in each other, they give each other acceptance, time, energy, listen deeply and they build valuable deposit of goodwill. I call this having Labrador Retriever love.
Relationship with high goodwill are effortless and easy. Teamwork is high, you’ll do anything for the other person, remember what it was like when you both fell in love? It’s possible to have that again.
People in love see the beauty in life.
Just as pointed out in the submitted question, reflecting on the past. That state of mind is still possible, use the past as a map to igniting the fire again in your relationship, not as a memory to generate a negative vibe.
Even when things look bleak, they can still be hopeful, compassionate, appreciative, grateful and your hearing hopefully hasn’t failed, you can still listen to the other person, not just their words but what they mean as well. There’s been some time that’s past that you both have probably drifted apart, the good news is that there’s a lot to catch up on, and start planning for some fun things near and far to share together.
Warm goodwill in a relationship fosters teamwork.
The better the feeling, the more productive the partners are together. There is synergy. When there's goodwill, it makes it easy for a couple to correct mistakes in the relationship. They trust one another, they look to each other for help and support.
When goodwill is low, both or one of you will be closed off to talking about insecurities, and a person's weight and health are surely to be an insecurity. No body will talk about this with anyone there’s not a high amount of trust with.
I think so many new clients I work with are confused at the start where their feelings come from. They are under the common impression that their partner or the other person is making them feel a certain negative way. That’s not possible.
I find that when we have a story, beliefs, rules that I do things a certain way and expect others to follow it creates a lot of withdrawals in the bank account of goodwill. Even if you don’t express in words your thoughts about the situation in this case your husbands health, he can feel it, sense it and it lands for him as you see him as not good enough, something is wrong with him and he needs to change or be fixed. Looking at him though the energy of concern, he will likely dig his heels in deeper to his way of being, shut down and close off.
No one likes to be told what to do, it often does more harm than good.
Feeling broken, and not good enough is the worst feeling in the world.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Something that may come as easy for one person may be the most difficult and challenging for another. We won’t understand unless we seek to understand how another person feels about things that are difficult for them to talk about. Comparison is simply a thought habit that can be broken. Likely you’re super hard on yourself, and compare yourself to others. We project outward what we know on the inside.
I agree with you it does feel good to take great care of your health and the benefits are logically wonderful, there’s copious proof, studies, and science that it is beneficial.
What’s logical is one thing, but emotions beat logic every time when in battle.
The simple act of staying true to your healthy habits is commendable. What has a great impact to the people around you is modeling these behaviors over long periods of time and focusing on yourself. Your actions speak louder than any words could.
Knowing what you can and can’t control is important in life.
You can’t certainly control how your husband thinks, feels or what he does or doesn’t do, nor should you.
What you can control is by staying in your own lane, fueling thoughts that serve you, the feelings that ignite the fire in your bank account of goodwill and the actions that you know will foster the closeness you used to have in your relationship.
It sounds like you've been pouring into other people for a long time. Now, it's your time to focus on your mental, emotional, and physical health and be super proud of your healthy habits, what you're accomplishing, and find people who have that common drive and interest. Inspiring people you know and don’t know is fun and can offer you a lot of purpose and meaning in your life. Maybe one day that will be your husband, that’s for him to choose. There will be people who want to follow you, and those who don't won't. That's their free will to do what they feel is right for them; it’s their life.
We don’t want our partners, spouses or people in our lives to be like ourselves, I wouldn’t want to marry myself. I find that being with someone that has vastly different hobbies and interests is fascinating and give me so much more to ask questions about, and be curious about. Certainly it’s nice to have some things to share together, and spend time mutually doing, it doesn’t need to be everything.
Your question is how to convey your thoughts without a fight. What if it’s not doing something, we aren’t human-doings, we are human beings. See your husband as an amazing human being and look at him through the lens of curiosity. What if it’s doing less or shifting your energy, your come from, bringing loving, kind energy into every interaction? Simply loving him unconditionally, looking at him like you did when you first fell madly in love, with compassion, empathy, and seeing him perfectly as he is?
- What would happen to the bank account of goodwill?
- How might he respond, without expectations?
- What if you approached him with curiosity, and love, and got that in return, what would shift?
I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!
If you want to send a question, please send to email@example.com please include:
- A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)
- And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it.