My wife is constantly trying to "change" me. I thought it was over during the end of our college days, but every month itís something new. Some things I can get with, but others I just need to have. How do I regain the space I want and get "me" back for a day or two.
I truly believe that one of the main reasons the divorce rate is so high is because couples go into their marriages with the wrong expectations. Perhaps one of the biggest errors is thinking your partner will change or you will change your partner. Thereís a favorite expression that I teach: "What you see is what you get, the only thing that changes is that you get more of it." Iím sorry to say this, but in your case, neither you nor your wife realized this to be the case.
First, let me explain what I mean. In most cases, people are who they are and reveal their traits right in the beginning. Admittedly, the traits might not be glaring because initially people do attempt to make a good impression. The other factor is that if you become smitten with someone, emotion is now interfering with clear thinking; thereís a real good chance you are not going to see a negative aspect to someone you are falling in love with or at least, you wonít deem it important. Thatís why so often others can see something that you canít.
When the two of you become more comfortable with one another, each of you starts to relax and youíre not as concerned about your little idiosyncrasies or imperfections. When that happens, the very same traits become "louder," so to speak. So, the woman who was initially so caring starts to feel like an overbearing mother; or the man who was so romantic by merely telling you what to wear and what time to be ready, you now experience as controlling.
From what you write, your wife is having trouble with the notion that you are who you are. However, you also state that she attempted to change you even when you were in college. Clearly, that is who she is; there was no reason to think that quality in her would just change because the college days ended or because you got married.
Itís really important that you bring this matter up to her. I have seen too many couples not address issues that bother them with the hope that things will somehow get better. Unfortunately, it doesnít work that way, in most cases it only makes things worse, to a point where thereís a wedge between them with lots of resentful feelings.
You need to let her know that her desire to frequently alter who you are is uncomfortable to you. Try to go into this discussion with an open mind because my guess is that if sheís trying to get you to make changes, there are certain things that are making her unhappy. Find out what they are. Be willing to listen and consider compromises.
Donít be surprised if she points out that this is what sheís always done and you never objected in the past. Should that be the case, youíll have to acknowledge that you thought it would change and that it really has begun to bother you.
Remember to have this discussion in a non-attacking way. This is not necessarily the time to bring up the things youíd like her to change unless she asks.
Iím well aware that opening up a talk like this might be a challenge since, stereotypically, guys donít initiate such dialogues. But as I said, itís really vital to do so because the situation is not going to change on its own. Plus, it will probably serve you well just by the very fact that you do raise it, on lots of different levels!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last.