Relationship Help: What Are You Waiting For?

Relationship Help Quick Tip

What are you waiting for?

This is the question I asked Jim, a fifty-seven-year-old man married to Lydia for nine years. Like many couples who seek out marriage and relationship help, Jim was feeling stuck. From his perspective, his wife has all the power and control over whether or not their marriage is going to improve.

So Jim, like many husbands in a troubled marriage, finds himself waiting.

  • He’s waiting for his wife to give him a sign that everything is OK;
  • He’s waiting for his wife’s anger to vanish so he can approach her (or continue to ignore her without major emotional fallout);
  • He’s waiting for her to “get over whatever’s bothering her”;
  • He’s waiting for her to “stop nagging”;
  • He’s waiting for her to find her own happiness, to be OK with a relationship that isn’t working;
  • He’s waiting for her to settle down emotionally, to become complacent…

Obviously, Jim has taken himself out of the relationship equation, seeing himself as having little or no influence over his wife’s emotional experiences and the overall health of their marriage. But what Jim doesn’t realize is that his passivity is a big part of their marital/relationship problems. His disengagement is the problem.

Another part of the problem is that when Jim did try, when he made an effort to engage Lydia, he  quickly gave up when his overture wasn’t immediately and completely welcomed by his wife with an open heart. So now he’s walking around rationalizing, “Hey, I tried–she’s clearly the one with the problem.”

Jim doesn’t know about the law of marital persistence: That years of emotional wounding and miscommunication cannot be undone with a few niceties.  That consistent and persistent change is needed to help Lydia rebuild trust and reopen her heart.

So for healing and growth to occur, Jim has to stop waiting…

Have you been waiting for your spouse/partner to change?

Like Jim, have you taken yourself out of the relationship equation, placing all the responsibility for change on your partner?   

If so, the waiting may now be part of the problem.

Until next time,

Dr. Rich Nicastro

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