Marriage and sex therapist, Emil Harker is here asking this questions, is it possible to single-handedly change a marriage?
He says, "I grew up in a house of 9 boys. Clutter was comfort. Sure I enjoyed a clean and tidy living space, but ADD and a bunch of brothers made clutter the custom. Unfortunately, my wife didn’t appreciate my low maintenance attitude. In fact, she took my lack of interest in keeping the house clean and tidy as an assault to my love and devotion to her."
He continues to say, "The topic of picking up after myself became a source of friction and frustration. Wanting to rid myself of this discomfort, I decided to do something different. I realized that the numerous conversations I had about how nice it would be if she “accepted me as I was” and didn’t complain had failed. So, why not strategically remove this issue from our list of arguments. I could do this all by myself. So, with a great deal of effort and devotion, I developed a mantra of “Leave No Trace!” Before leaving a room I asked myself the question. “Did I leave any trace that I was here?” Then I would go back and remove any evidence that I was there. This was especially difficult for some aspects of putting my things away. Those tough points, like putting my shoes in the closet instead of conveniently by the bed took extra effort. I put sticky notes on the doors, and hall walls outside of the bedroom to help me remember.
What started as a strategy to get my wife off my case and remove this issue from our argument rolodex ended up with me really liking the changes I made, and creating greater harmony and closeness in our marriage. That’s when I realized that consistent effort to dial in our attitudes and behaviors in a way that makes us better versions of ourselves and creates greater closeness was born. I called it Spouse2.0."
Last month on Fresh living, we talked about some of the problems associated with the attitude of wanting to be unconditionally loved. Although that sounds really nice, the problem is that when both people have this attitude there isn’t an attitude of change.
A custom-built marriage is a result of becoming the best version of yourself based on the particular and specific needs and preferences of your partner. Making those small adjustments is like smoothing out and polishing the points of connection in your relationship to remove the points of friction that cause discomfort and pain in the relationship.
But just how do we do this?
Emil says, "Each of us has a tiny replica of our spouse that lives in our heads. We can hear their voice and see their behaviors even before the moment comes. We can interview that internalized representation of our spouse to find out what characteristics or attributes they would love us to have that would also make us better versions of ourselves. Then put forth effort into developing those characteristics or attributes. Then, start a conversation about how we are doing. I call this checking in.
If you want to upgrade your marriage to increase a sense of security and closeness, you can do this all by yourself. When you make meeting your spouses needs a priority, it’s amazing how interested they are in doing the same thing. Imagine that. Imagine a marriage where both people put the effort into meeting the needs of the other more than trying to get the other person to meet their needs."
For more information visit EmilHarker.com.