If you have been following my series on marriage the last three weeks, you have read about how your two core fears (of failure and loss) are creating selfishness, defensiveness and conflict in your relationship.
In article two I addressed the importance of working on your self-esteem, to quiet your fear of failure, which makes you more capable of loving your spouse. In article three we talked about forgiveness, which is the foundation of a strong marriage, and choosing to be a giver, not a getter.
In this edition, I am going to teach you an amazing technique for getting your spouse (or anyone else in your life) to change their behavior in the most positive way possible.
We all know that you cannot change another person. No amount of nagging, begging, threatening or pleading will work if they don’t want to change. But there is something you can do that might encourage them to want to change themselves … and if this happens, everybody wins.
But (and this is a big BUT) if they sense at any level that you are trying to change them (and that you don’t fully love them as they are right now) they will resist changing and dig into their current behavior even deeper. They will also deeply resent you and see you as unattractive.
If you are disappointed with your spouse on any level, for not meeting your expectations, trust me, they know this and it is making it difficult for them to feel attracted to you. This is just a universal principle of truth you must understand. People must feel that you fully accept and love them as they are right now, in order to feel attracted to you.
They must also feel fully accepted before they are open to changing themselves.
Thus, the first step to getting them to change themselves is to let go of your desire to have them change. You must forgive them for disappointing you, let go of your made-up expectations and wishes that they were different, and commit to seeing them as perfect "as they are" right now. This is precisely what they want and need most.
I realize this is tricky, though. Especially when you are not happy with their behavior. But this is what forgiveness is about. It is about seeing your spouse accurately as a perfectly, imperfect, flawed student in the classroom of life, just like you. It is about understanding that their behavior is not who they are, and that their goodness and light is bigger than their errors, fears and faults. Forgiveness is also about choosing mercy and giving allowances because you want mercy and allowances back.
We all desperately want to be loved, admired and respected. We desperately want and need some reassurance that we are, in fact, good enough. Though you cannot be responsible for your spouse’s self-esteem, you can and must choose to see them as good enough if you want a healthy relationship.
Getting validation to quiet our core fear (that we aren’t good enough) is what we all want and need most.
Most women are terribly afraid they aren’t good enough as far as their appearance, their weight, their work and their parenting and if they hear anything that even hints of the idea that they are falling short in any of these areas or disappointing you, you will trigger their "sore spot" core fear. Once this is triggered, they will be too focused on their fear of failure to be loving toward you.
Most men are terribly afraid of rejection and not being loved or wanted. They work hard to support their family and all they want is to be respected, appreciated, loved and wanted. If there is any slight inference that he is not wanted (especially physically), this will trigger his “sore spot” core fear. The experience of not being wanted makes him less capable of love.
So, the point of all this is that if you want your spouse to love you (and give to you) then they need a great deal of encouragement, validation, acceptance and appreciation for who they are, in spite of their mistakes. We all desperately want our partners to see the best in us, believe the best of us, give us the benefit of the doubt and know that we are trying to be a good person, do the right things and treat them right even if we don't always do it. We need them to see our goodness and value it.
The most magical thing you can do for your marriage is to look really hard for the good in your spouse and show them you can see it — often. Spend some time and really explore the depth of the good potential in your spouse. If they could be their highest best self, who would they be, how would they act, how would you see them? Write the qualities you know are in them, even though they may not be behaving this way now.
Now, imagine how you might treat them if they were this person right now. What things would you say? How would you appreciate them? Would you shower them with praise and tell them how lucky you are to be married to them?
Start saying and doing those things right now.
Tell them often how grateful you are for such an amazing spouse. Tell them how lucky you are to be married to them. Shower them with affection, support and appreciation. Figure out their love langauge and give them love that way. Tell them the amazing qualities you see in them and mention each attribute specifically. Help them to see this picture of who they really are (the amazingness) reflected back in your eyes.
If you see an amazing spouse who is a great person, you will help them to see themselves this way and this will make them want to become this amazing person. This works because — people want to live up to your highest opinion of them.
If you want your spouse to be more motivated, start telling him how amazingly motivated he has become lately and how much you admire that. If you want a spouse who is more affectionate, instead of complaining that she’s not affectionate, start showering her with appreciation for being such a wonderful affectionate wife. Trust me — this works. It may take a little while, but encouragement and love can sink into their subconscious mind and change them.
The more happy, appreciative and grateful you are for this amazing person in your life, the more they will love, adore, cherish and want you. The best medicine to repair your marriage is encouragement and appreciation.
We spend too much time focused on what's wrong. We are too blinded by the faults and flaws and we are missing the light. But the light is there — in all of us. No matter how covered up with fear it has been, your spouse’s light deserves to be honored. The more you choose to see their light, you will literally reveal it to them and because you see it, they will see it, and it will heal them.
You are not lying to them (though it may seem that way). You are just seeing something in them they can’t see yet — but it is in there. If you tell a grouchy teenager what a sweet, wonderful, kind person he is, and you tell him this often enough, he will start to see himself this way and he will be kinder.
You will have to try this and find out for yourself.
Just know that I love, adore and want my husband because he continues to see the best in me even when I mess up. The more he sees the good in me and thinks I'm wonderful (especially when I know I don’t deserve it) the more madly in love I become.
You can do this too.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is a life coach and speaker who specializes in eliminating drama in the workplace. She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
My marriage is not turning out anything like what I wanted. I am doing everything I can to support and love her, but I never get back what I need. I am at the end of her list of priorities and she doesn’t change this, no matter how often I point this out. Then, she points out every mistake I make but won’t see her own. How can I change this?
I cannot possibly address all marriage issues or situations. This article is only addressing selfishness issues and does not address situations of mental or physical abuse.
If you are both pointing out each other’s failures and primarily focused on getting the love you need — you are being getters, not givers. The key to getting the love you want (in the way you want) is to stop trying to get it and just focus on giving.
Understand that if you have any fear around not getting what you need, your partner can feel this and subconsciously knows you are worried about yourself. This will make them subconsciously see you as a threat and pull back from you, which will make you feel more unsafe and pull back. This will create a vicious cycle.
Remember, you are only capable of giving real love to your spouse (that they will feel and reciprocate) if you don’t need anything. When you give without strings attached, your spouse will feel that as real love and they will usually respond with real love and appreciation back. (I know some of you have tried this and it still didn’t work — but keep reading and see if you can tell what was missing.)
In each moment of your day, you must make one simple choice — Am I going to be a giver or a getter in this moment?
You must ask yourself this question all day every day, because in any moment that you don’t consciously choose to be a giver, your subconscious mind will choose for you, and it will usually choose getting and selfishness.
Selfishness may even be your autopilot setting. This means your subconscious mind may be focused on you, defensive, and on guard against being taken from or insulted all the time. If you continue to function from this place, you will never have a healthy relationship.
If you want a healthy relationship you must work on these three things every day:
1) Trust that you are OK, no matter what you get from your spouse.
2) Forgive your spouse for disappointing you.
3) Choose to be a giver and give 100 percent all the time.
Trust that you are OK, no matter what you get from your spouse.
The idea that you cannot be happy or OK unless your spouse starts loving you better is a myth. It is just a thought you made up, it is not necessarily true.
In reality you are the same you no matter how anyone around you behaves. You are bulletproof, and your value is infinite and absolute, and the degree to which you are loved cannot change that. You are the same whole, amazing you whether your spouse loves you or not. You must see yourself this way and stop being needy if you want to repair your marriage.
You must let go of your victim story and stop using it to excuse your bad behavior back. You are not a victim here. It is only a story you created. Acting wounded because your spouse doesn’t love you enough will actually make them lose respect for you and love you less. (I said "acting wounded" because you really can’t be diminished, so all self-pity is acting.)
If you want your marriage to thrive, you must show up confident in the knowledge of who you are and not let anything take that from you. You must stop needing anything from your spouse to make you happy. Your spouse will find this confidence very attractive.
Forgive your spouse for disappointing you.
There is no question that your marriage has not turned out the way you expected and is a painful disappointment. But you must remember life is a classroom to teach you to love, it is not a vacation. Your life will always provide the perfect situations you need to facilitate your learning to love at a deeper level. Learning to love at a deeper level usually means learning to forgive, which often requires a disappointment experience to let go of.
Your marriage is the perfect classroom journey for you.
Forgiveness means letting go of the expectations you had about how your marriage or your spouse should be, and instead, embracing who they are and what they are teaching you. Forgiveness is about seeing them accurately as a struggling student in the classroom of life, with the same value as you.
This is the cold hard truth: There is no such thing as a perfect marriage that fulfills all your needs and makes life blissfully happy all the time. No matter who you marry there will be challenges and disappointments because everyone is hard to live with on some level. There is always a downside to being married to us.
There is obviously a downside to living with your spouse (in that she is not physically loving enough and is overly focused on herself) but I guarantee there is also a downside to being married to you. It may even be the same one. You may be a little overly focused on your needs (I can safely say this because we generally all are.)
Take some time and make a list of the ways you might be difficult to live with. What are your faults and flaws? You could also fill out the “you spot it you got it worksheet” on my website. This will help you to see this situation accurately.
Then, you must forgive your partner for disappointing you. You must make forgiving your partner your full-time job. You must stop criticizing them, pointing out every mistake, keeping score and looking for offenses to prove that you are right about how unloving they are.
If you will practice forgiving their faults and show them they are worthy of love even though they aren't perfect, this will mean the world to them and it will actually cause them to love you more.
(The more your spouse forgives your faults the more attracted to them you become. The more they point out your faults the less attractive you become.)
You can decide that whatever your partner does, you are going to see their behavior for what it usually is (unconscious, fear-based selfishness that is more about their fears than it is about you) and you are going to forgive them. You can become a master forgiver — that is the path to happiness.
Choose to be a giver — and give 100 percent all the time.
Instead of being bothered and disappointed about not getting what you want, give your spouse fully what they want from a place of love and trust that loving them this way will make them appreciate you and love you back.
(Don't be a doormat, but choose "loving" energy over "defensive" energy even when you speak up for yourself.)
Ask your partner what makes them feel loved, accepted and cherished. How can you do better to make them feel adored and appreciated? Make giving love to your spouse this way your No. 1 priority every day.
(I know this will be difficult for some of you because you are holding on to years of pent-up resentment, but you can forgive. There are some forgiveness formula worksheets on my website that may help you work your way from fear to love. You may also want to work with a coach or counselor.)
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is a life coach and speaker who specializes in eliminating drama in the workplace. She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
I can see that my wife and I are both scared we aren't good enough, and that fear is causing the problems in our marriage. I can see how her defensiveness triggers my fear of being rejected. The more she pulls back, the more rejected I feel. This is a vicious cycle of reaction, fear, defensiveness, score-keeping and selfishness. How do we get off this merry-go-round?
The first step in fixing your relationship is for each of you to fix your own fear-based thinking.
This is actually the purpose of your significant-other relationship.This person is in your life to help you learn and grow. To do this, they are going to stretch you, test you, try you, push your buttons and sometimes rip you apart, all in an effort to show you your fears and give you the chance to grow out of them. Your marriage is part of your perfect life classroom.
I know this because everything in your life is.
The universe knew exactly what kinds of challenges you would need to become the person you are meant to be. So you were attracted to the person who would best teach you those lessons. This means all the conflict in your relationship right now is there for a reason. It is there to give you the opportunity to learn something.
If the conflict won't go away, you haven't learned the lesson yet.
When you start seeing every fight and every misunderstanding accurately, as a lesson to help you grow, it will change everything. You will finally be seeing your relationship accurately.
It has been fascinating to see that every couple I work with has the perfect storm when it comes to their fears (in that they perfectly trigger each other). The bad behavior created by his core fear perfectly triggers her core fear, and the bad behavior her core fear creates, perfectly triggers his core fear.
This creates an amazing yet very challenging environment for learning to love.
Your No. 1 job here is to work on your own self-esteem, so you can stop being afraid and become more loving. This is something you must do for yourself and by yourself. It is a wonderful thing if you have a partner who validates you and quiets your fears, but you can't depend on someone else to keep your bucket full. They cannot validate you or love on you enough to make up for what you are letting leak out the other side if you don’t see your value yourself.
Your partner cannot give you self-esteem. If you continue to expect your spouse to make you feel loved and worthy, you are setting them up for failure. In the end, you will still feel inadequate and you will blame them, since you unfairly made them responsible — this is totally unfair.
Are you doing this to your spouse? Are you angry at them because you feel inadequate? Are you making that their fault?
You might think you feel fine about yourself, and it is only your spouse’s criticism, disappointment or lack of interest in you that is the problem. But if you didn’t already subconsciously fear you aren’t good enough or wanted, none of those things would bother you.
You are bothered because their behavior is triggering your subconscious fear. Think about it.
No one can make you feel inadequate, ripped off, mistreated (or anything else) without your permission. Their comments or behavior are only making you feel inadequate and scared because you are already feeling inadequate and scared at the subconscious level. But you are blaming them for not loving you enough or not treating you better, because you think if they just did those things you’d feel better.
I hate to tell you this — even if you spouse were to try harder to meet your needs and show you more love, your subconscious fears of being inadequate, unloved or unwanted will still be there. You must fix this yourself.
Your spouse will never be able to do everything perfectly enough that your subconscious, score-keeping, selfish, scared, mind won’t still find fault with them and get offended. They can't tell you enough, have sex with you enough, serve you or do anything enough to make up for your fears.
(They may even subconsciously know they will never be enough to make you happy and they may have given up trying.)
You must change these two things if you want a healthy relationship.
I have written a lot of articles about choosing to see your value accurately as infinite and absolute, as an irreplaceable one-of-a-kind diamond that has the same value no matter the setting. But it comes down to this one simple decision, which you must make every minute, of every day. You must choose how you will see yourself — and there are only two options.
This choice is in your power to make every moment of every day, but you must understand if you don’t consciously choose how you will value yourself, your subconscious mind will decide for you, and it will usually choose option 1.
1. You must practice reminding yourself throughout the day that your value isn’t on the line and nothing anyone says, does or thinks can change it. You must choose to feel safe and loved.
Then you have to give this to your spouse, too. You must choose to see them as an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, infinite, absolute, divine, amazing student in the classroom of life, good enough as they are right now too.
2. You must choose to see them as the same as you.
They have faults, but so do you. They may be hard to live with sometimes, but so are you. They may treat you badly at times (in ways that you don’t treat them badly), but I guarantee that you treat them badly in other ways.
3. You cannot cast stones or cast them as the bad guy.
Faults, mistakes, weaknesses, selfishness, rudeness, rejection, anger issues, defensiveness and all the other kinds of immature and mean behavior we humans are capable of (that your spouse is guilty of) only makes them exactly like you ...flawed ... but infinitely and absolutely valuable anyway.
Your marriage will only thrive if you can see these truths in each other. You must see your spouse accurately and remember when they let you down, hurt you, behave badly or reject you at times, this doesn't mean anything ... except that he or she is human and needs to keep learning ... just like you.
Don't take it personally and create unnecessary defensive drama or conflict. Choose to overlook most of this behavior because you want yours overlooked too.
The first step towards forgiving each other and mending your marriage is just seeing each other accurately. Work on this, and next week we will address forgiveness at a deeper level.
You can do this.
(This article is not directed at those with abusive spouses. This is about common, garden-variety, fear-based, bad behavior and marriage problems.)
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought-after life coach and popular speaker. She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night and a free Fear Assessment online.
Repair your marriage, part 1
Editor's note: This is the first in a five-part series on improving your marriage. In this article, Coach Kim helps you to see your marriage problems from a different perspective and as always, this changes everything.
We have problems in our relationship. My spouse and I are both easily offended and we fight often. We both resent each other and see the other as the bad guy. Over the years we are getting more disappointed in each other and we have less and less sex. It’s never gets better no matter what we try. Do you have any suggestions?
I get so many questions involving marriage problems and a lack of intimacy that I have decided to write a series of articles on it. This first article is going to help you change the way you see the situation. The articles following this one will give you tips for repairing your relationship.
Fixing your marriage is going to require a serious commitment on your part, though. You must be ready to work on your self-esteem, change your behavior, and forgive at a deep level. I hope you are ready to go here.
This process will work better if both spouses are committed to work on things, but even if you are the only one willing, this process can still work. When you make fundamental changes in how you show up, your spouse will either change himself or herself or it will become obvious you don’t belong together.
Most marriage problems are based in these five issues:
Are you easily offended? Do you resent your spouse for past mistreatment? Are you needy for affection, attention or validation? Are you deeply disappointed that your marriage isn’t what you wanted it to be? Does your defensiveness make you selfish? Are you more worried about getting the love you want, than in giving love the way your spouse wants it?
You must understand that all of these problems are fear problems (caused by the two core fears):
If either husband or wife has subconscious fears around abandonment, not being loved, not being good enough, being taken from, or taken advantage of — all which stem from their past life experiences — they are incapable of creating a healthy relationship until they deal with and change these.
These fears might make you try to control your spouse or hold on too tight until your neediness smothers them. You may have trust issues that could destroy the relationship with doubt and suspicion. You may be afraid of control and rebel against everything your spouse says or does. You may feel inadequate, which makes you get offended too easily. You might be afraid of being shortchanged, which makes you get offended. All of these problems are subconscious fear problems.
It is critical that each of you figure out what your specific fear issues are and get conscious of how they affect you and make you react.
I've had a core fear my whole life that I “have to be perfect or no one will love me.” This fear has caused major problems in my relationships by making me too easily offended and quick to feel rejected and hurt. Anything my spouse says (that infers I'm not perfect) feels like the end of the world.
What are your fears and how does your spouse trigger them?
Take an inventory of your past experiences. Have you or your spouse:
If you have been functioning from fear most of your life — with fear of failure or loss playing in the background of your subconscious mind — you haven’t been showing up with real love. You haven't been capable of it.
Even when you did the right things or said the right things, your spouse may not have felt loved. You may have said, “I love you,” you may have given gifts or performed acts of service, but because of your fears, you were still subconsciously focused on your own needs so your gifts had strings attached.
When you give a gift from a needy position, needing validation or appreciation or to get love back, it is more about you than them and they can feel this.
You aren’t capable of giving real love until you need nothing in return.
I am not saying don’t be nice until you fix your self-esteem issues, though. You should keep being loving and kind, but you should also work on your self-esteem because it will make a huge difference if you could give to your spouse and need nothing in return.
It's the difference between telling your wife to go take a relaxing bubble bath because you want her to relax, and telling her to relax so she will feel more romantic and give what you want afterward. If you give the gift with no strings attached, she will feel more appreciative and will often feel more romantic, too.
You must need nothing — because you know who you are and feel good about yourself. You must have good self-esteem and know you deserve to be loved and wanted. You must know that the universe is on your side and that everything that happens is in your life to serve you. You must be easy going about things because of this. You must feel whole and need nothing — because only in this place of trust about your value and your life are you capable of a really healthy marriage.
The number one thing you must be responsible for (in your relationship) is to clearly and accurately see your own value and feel safe and secure with your life. No one can give this sense of security to you.
No one can make you feel inferior without your permission, and they can’t make you feel good about yourself if you don’t own that either. It is something you must choose for yourself. You must change the way you value yourself and you must see life as a safe and beautiful place.
There are many resources on my website to help you work on your self-esteem and escape your fears of failure and loss. I encourage you to take advantage of them. They are the first step to a better marriage.
Take some time this week to fill out the worksheet and figure out exactly what fears are causing the problems in your relationship. Understand that you must fix these; your spouse cannot be responsible for your low self-esteem. You may want to read the article about being upset, too.
Next Monday, I will address how to start changing things.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought-after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in eliminating drama in the workplace. She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.