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Change your spouse or not?

March 21, 2013

Rose brought up an interesting point the other day.  Something she read prompted the question of “if you could, what is one way you would change your spouse/significant other?”  We’ve all heard that question one way or another.  Perhaps we have thought of it.

Of course, Rose said it took her a long time coming up with a way to improve on me. Ha ha! The best she could come up with was to have me be “more the life of the party”.  She said that because I am usually the one who wants to go home early from parties or outings.  She would love to stay out later and talk.  So having me stay out later would make it more fun.  But she also decided there would be some downside to that same “change”.  If I changed to be willing to stay out longer, I probably would not be the same person with respect to saving money.  Perhaps being more of a “life of the party” guy I would be more inclined to spend money and “have a good time” all the time.  Having me be frugal has served us well (go ahead, all of you that know me, you can think or comment on how dull I am and how tight I am with money).

I think that pondering this entire issue was Rose’s great insight.  Of course we would like to change others to our own mind’s “improvement”.  If we could get it just perfect, that would be great.  But then the person would not be who we partnered with.  And it is really impossible to change one feature that does not have an impact on some other feature of a person (That would be the Law of Unintended Consequences rearing its ugly head). Like your spouse to be cleaner around the house?  Maybe they become a germaphobe or drive you crazy picking up after you.  Lose a few pounds?  Maybe they become a fanatic about the food they eat and so you are not able to enjoy that ice cream or potato chips or a cold beer.

As I see it, all of our features and idiosyncrasies and beliefs and ways of thinking are tied together in what makes a person.  They are all in some weird balance.  When you try to change one of them, you are inevitably going to change others.  The changes you make may not be what you want to happen.  And because life is imperfect, the changes we wish on others will never be perfect.

So you probably need to stay with the recipe you got now.  That doesn’t mean we should all try to improve some aspects of our life.  But it needs to come from within.  “Wishing” greatness on someone else opens up a Pandora’s Box of issues that we can neither foresee or potentially control.

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2 Comments
  1. Mary Brannan permalink

    Dean, Just wanted to say Hi and I love getting these blogs…you have brightened my day many times without even realizing it. Take Care! Mary B.

  2. Thanks Mary. Glad I could. I am having a lot of fun with it.

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