You've heard it over and over again from friends, family and even your own parents. It goes something like this: "People don't actually change." Or "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Or even "A leopard can't change their spots." The underlying message in all these sayings is people are who they are, and there's no changing them. Sure, you can try, but at the end of the day there's just no changing someone.
It makes sense, then, that when your husband is being annoying, you think to yourself that he's never going to change. And because he'll never change, you believe he's going ruin your marriage. After all, he hasn't learned to pick his towel up off the floor yet, and if he hasn't learned to do it after all these years, he's probably not going to. So you toss your hands up in exasperation because you feel hopeless that he'll ever change.
Your beliefs about change may be harming your marriage
Because you believe your husband won't change, it may be harming your relationship more than him not changing. Here's why: Recent research shows that your own beliefs about change are important in changing your own behaviors. Simply put, people who believed change was possible were more likely to take responsibility for challenges, and were more willing to take corrective actions to repair the challenges.
Marriage takes two
Nobody's perfect, including you. If you don't believe it's possible for your husband to change, this research suggests _you_ may be more unable to take responsibility for problems that you contribute. As a result, you may be unknowingly harming your marriage because you're blaming your spouse for problems but are less able to own the problems you're contributing.
If you're blaming your husband for the things he's doing but not owning your own, this makes the relationship one sided. It takes you out of the role of a spouse and moves you into the role of a complainer. Sure, you might not think you're not a complainer, but that's the tricky part. This research suggests that, of course, you wouldn't. But that doesn't mean you're not. It just means you're not owning it.
Give your husband (and your marriage) a break
Instead of being angry at your husband for all the problems he's creating for you, give him, and your marriage, a break. Nobody's perfect. Not even you. Stop focusing on the things he's not doing and focus on yourself, instead. Because marriage takes two, there are things you can do unilaterally to create change in the marriage. And the best part is, you don't have to wait for him to come around in order to make the change. By you owning and doing your part, you can create changes in the relationship regardless of whether he does or not.
Not only will this help the relationship, but it will help you, too. As you identify parts of yourself that are causing problems in the relationship and work to change them, your self-growth will start to soar. You'll be changing the things that are causing problems, and you'll find yourself becoming a better person.
When you find yourself becoming a better person, you won't care if your husband is changing or not. Sure, at the end of the day it would be nice if he would but it's not necessary. You're quite capable by yourself. Even if he won't change his spots.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.