When a Spouse Says They’ll Change For You (Remember This)

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If a partner says they will change specifically for you, run.

Or at least, don’t believe them. Watch. Wait. But don’t be taken.

People who promise to change for reasons outside of themselves are not reliable sources of information. (Whether they realize it or not.)

partner says they'll change for you

Lasting change is not something we do solely for others. And here, I’m not referring to a simple change of mind, such as changing your mind about what to eat for dinner or when to meet someone for coffee.

I’m talking about relationship-impacting change, like addressing one’s relationship with money, how one interacts with one’s partner, inability to engage during conflict, work/life flow, and such important areas.

Undoubtedly, even in those cases, people can be motivated to change based on external reasons: maybe it feels painful or uncomfortable not to change, or they’ve been given an ultimatum. Related Post: Why Change Without Lasting Fruit Shouldn’t Be Acceptable in Marriage (The Truth Hurting Spouses Deserve to Know)

At some point, however, any external motivation to change has to move inside and make a home. At the very least, individuals need to explore the importance of the shift and decide it’s worth engaging in.

When you believe they are trying to change for you

But let’s assume you believe someone who promised to change “Because I love you so much and I don’t want to lose you,” or “Fine, I’ll do it!”  or because they were found out… again.

If you believe a partner who has promised to change solely for you, and not because it’s helpful to them and the life they want to build with you, there’s a high chance you just handed yourself the long-term job of monitoring and supervising said change.

Since they didn’t take full responsibility for themselves and how their behavior impacts those around them (it’s mostly image/spouse management) down the line, you might get served with “but this is what you wanted!” when you question and inspect the crumbs at your feet being labeled “change.”

Since “you asked for it,” and “you wanted it,” IT became your baby to nurse, manage, and weep over.

If a partner says they’ll change for you

Again, it’s true that healthy people with healthy connections can make growth-related shifts for the benefit of their connections.

They address past or present hardships that affect how they relate to themselves or their partners. They grow. They support each other. Related Post: 18 Things Normal Guys Don’t Do in Marriage (And 12 Things They Pursue)

The difference is that well-adjusted people make those changes, not as an incentive to keep someone in their lives or get someone off their back.

Well-adjusted people grow and change because they recognize that growth is good for them, too. They acknowledge that they exist in a shared space and want to contribute to mutual happiness and wholeness.

So they engage in self-reflection, seek help (for example, by reading books, seeking wise, healthy counsel, etc.), and correct course as needed. They might struggle, even resist the process, but ultimately, the “good” part of the “good spouse” kicks in.

If they start out wanting to change in order to keep the status quo or get a partner off their back, they recognize that there needs to be a shift: they come to a place of individual responsibility: they grow up.

They do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. They address issues because they have decided it matters to do so. They heal for themselves. They grow for themselves.

But make no mistake, a partner has every right to watch and wait. Nobody is owed trust because they said, “I’ll change for you.”

partner says they'll change for you

Is it fair to ask your partner to change?

I’m rewriting my first two books (which I took down two and a half years ago when I changed direction), and I’ve been thinking about our (husband and I) struggles in marriage.

We both brought unprocessed adverse experiences from our pasts and didn’t fully grasp how those experiences influenced our marriage dynamic.

But even though we didn’t have much awareness or language for our internal struggles, we still were a regular couple going through regular problems: Respect and honor was still expected. We didn’t hit the mark all the time. But we (emphasis on we) didn’t think it was okay to be completely boundary-less or inconsistent.

And that’s what I want people to understand: there’s a standard to keep.  

The spouse in a marriage plagued by persistent pain isn’t the only one who needs to be mindful of truth, respect, and honor. (Because some people think I’m going overboard with telling women they don’t have to put up with unrepentant hardheartedness.)

I’m not making stuff up for one group while the other group is carefree. Healthy spouses also maintain the standard. (Granted, they are not dealing with destructive patterns like entitlement to misuse of power, exploit, coerce and abuse.)

Well-adjusting people choose not to cross the line; they stay within the boundaries of truth, honor, and respect. And if they wound their spouse (regular marriage issues), they confess, repent, and bear lasting good fruit.

A broken way of relating is a spouse chronically and unrepentantly crossing the boundaries of love and thinking it’s okay for them to do so.

When a partner wants to change you?

Let’s wrap up, with some next steps for you.

Maybe your marriage isn’t just hard. Perhaps you need to identify common ways unhealthy behaviors appear in everyday life. Sarah McDugal, author and trauma recovery coach, created a FREE mini-course to give you the exact tools you need to spot red flags. Because mistreatment can be hard to identify when it has been normalized. Enroll Now

If you’re tired of trying to fix a bad marriage by yourself, if you need an empathetic witness to your silent struggle, my journaling book Courage: Reflection and Liberation for Hurting Soul is for you. Here’s what readers are saying on Amazon review “(the book) invites wounded, shattered women to come into the light, be witnessed and experience tender kindness in the midst of their pain. (It) washes away the gaslighting we may have experienced by others as she invites the reader to see the reality that they are strong, loved, courageous, truth seekers, and bound for liberation.” ORDER COURAGE on AMAZON I PDF

Courage: Reflections and Liberation for the Hurting Soul

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