Q. My marriage has been unhappy for many years. My husband and I don’t see eye to eye on any topic and now we barely communicate. My husband wants us to see a counselor or take a communication course. If I thought we could make the marriage better I would see some point to doing this but I don’t believe people or marriages can really change. What do you and other experts say?
A. We can change ourselves and our relationships more than we think we can. Some years ago six year old boys were obsessed with “Morphing Power Rangers” who were able to “morph” into heroes, transformed by new abilities to do amazing things. Since then the word “morph” has become part of our vocabulary. The root for the term “morph” comes from the process of metamorphosis which is used in describing the transformation that occurs when a caterpillar “morphs” into a butterfly. What a dramatic change!
John Ortberg, in his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, says “It’s not just six year old boys who want to morph. The desire for transformation lies deep in every human heart. This is why people enter therapy, join health clubs, get into recovery groups, read self-help books, attend motivational seminars, and make New Year’s resolutions. The possibility of transformation is the essence of hope.”
Not only do we have the desire to change many of us succeed at it. It’s not just butterflies who are capable of “morphing.” Many of us avoid change, fear change and are more comfortable staying as we are. But we are all capable of change. We may not be able to change as completely as the caterpillar does but we can change our thinking, our habits, our actions, our attitudes, our knowledge and skills, and our reactions to others.
We avoid change because it takes work and its strange territory. Change means doing something out of our comfort zone. It means taking a risk. In a marriage it means opening up and sharing inner pain. It means learning to forgive and forget past hurts. It means learning to listen to each other and understand a different point of view.
Marriages can change when only one person begins to change. When both work together on change they can reinvent their marriage and make it as different as a caterpillar is to a butterfly. I have seen this happen over and over.
We are conditioned by our past experiences, especially early childhood experiences. These limitations are often due to our thoughts and beliefs about our past, rather than to reality. In other words we don’t have to remain bound by our past. Psychologist Aaron Beck says that “the single belief most toxic to a relationship is the belief that the other person cannot change.” We also don’t realize the powerful difference even a small change in our own attitudes or actions can make.
The Christian faith, when taken seriously, can also transform you and your relationships. Seek to know God and be active in a vital church. Change is not easy, but with the help of a mighty God change can amaze you.
A Christian counselor can help you and your husband break through power struggles or impasses causing difficulties. I also urge you to join The Third Option, A Weekend to Remember or Marriage Encounter. These Christian marriage groups teach couples how to understand each other and make positive changes in their relationship.
Take a chance and begin “morphing” your marriage.
“Don’t copy the customs and behavior of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2 NLT