“He’s never going to change,” Jodi said, looking over at her husband. “He’s always been this way and will probably always stay this way.”
She turned away from her husband, Thomas, and looked at me.
“I don’t think you can tell me anything that will help,” she continued. “We’ve been to three or four other counselors and he hasn’t changed for any of them. I’ve been married to him for 30 years and nothing has changed during that time. Why should I believe anything will change now?”
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Jodi stared over at her husband, who now stared back at her. I could sense the tension mounting.
“Is it possible there was something missing in the counseling?” I asked. “Or, that it is going to take even more work with a greater amount of accountability for change?”
“You are not going to be able to convince me of anything different,” she said firmly. “You haven’t lived with him for 30 years. I have no reason to believe the future will be any different than the past.”
Thomas rolled his eyes and looked away.
“Then, why are we here?” he asked sharply. He took his glasses off and placed them on his lap.
“Well,” Jodi continued. “Why should I believe anything can change? It hasn’t for years. I can’t see any reason for hope.”
“What if this Marriage Intensive could be an intervention?” I asked. “What if both of you decided to really have a different kind of marriage? What if what is needed is a change of perspective?”
“That would be great,” Jodi said. “But I need to see change!”
“Yes,” I said. “You both need to see change. But, I’d like to talk to you about the power of perspective.”
“OK,” she said in a surly tone. “I’d like to hear how things can change.”
With that, I shared with them what I had seen thousands of times.
“Folks,” I began. “Change doesn’t happen magically. Change doesn’t happen easily. But change can happen. Both of you have to want change to occur. You have to take note of the things you do that keep life the same, what you want to have different, and what it will take to change things. I call this the power of perspective and attitude. Whether you believe things can change or believe they cannot change, you’re right.”
I waited for my words sink in.
“In other words, you create your future. Let’s talk about having a perspective of your marriage being able to be exactly what you want it to be. Your attitude, and the things you do when you are here and when you leave here, that will make the difference.”
I shared with them what I’ve seen in thousands of couples–your perspective determines how your marriage will turn out. If you have a limited perspective and keep doing the same things wrong, you will get dismal results. However, if you change your perspective, looking critically at the way you connect and disconnect from each other, much can change.
Here are some further thoughts we discussed that helped Jodi and Thomas and can help you:
1. Take note of your attitude.
Be honest with yourself about whether you have a limited vision (perspective) about your marriage. Do you believe change is not possible? Have you lost hope and are you stuck? Do you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, surprised by the results?
2. Change your attitude and perspective.
Are you willing to stop at nothing to bring about change? Scripture tells us, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) If we dwell on past failures, we are likely to set ourselves up for future failure. If, however, you believe you simply haven’t found the right combination and know you must keep searching for answers, you are likely to find them.
3. Develop a plan for change.
Intervention is the key to change. It takes a breakdown in the way we’ve been living to invite real change into our lives. We must stop at nothing to bring about change. Find the best help you can and follow their counsel. Take drastic measures to bring about drastic change. It all begins, however, with perspective.
4. Create a plan of accountability for change.
Once you’ve cultivated a new attitude, and then have a plan for change, find someone who will hold you accountable. Having a plan is worth little if you don’t have a stringent plan for following through with it.
5. Create a support network to reinforce change.
Change is best kept if we have ample support for that plan. Invite several other couples into your inner circle, letting them know the issues you are working on and your plan for change. Ask them to check in with you to see if you are following through with your plans.