Part of Growing Up is Realizing We Cannot Change Others
Love heals all things. This is one of those guiding principles that works…. most of the time. If it were just that simple! If the world was that simple, then we certainly would not need philosophers and there would be a lot less poetry. No doubt we have been given all the pieces of the puzzle of life, it’s just that there are an infinite number of ways to put them together.
Take, for example, the woman who meets her prince. Well, he’s not exactly a prince, but through the eyes of love he comes pretty close. She sees not only who he is, but all that he could be. Now, under her guiding influence, let the transformation begin. She does it gently at first, but as time goes on, she digs in a little harder. She may see things in her prince that she does not like. When she tries to discuss them, she might find that he responds defensively or with anger, or he might agree with her and vow to change. Because she loves him so much, she wants to stay with him. But if there are things she cannot live with, the only option she sees is to continue to ‘work’ on him.
If the situation involves two people who are open, honest, fair, and dedicated to growing together, then the process can have its rewards. It would not, we should think, be a one-sided process. The problem begins when she wants him to change, and despite what he might verbalize, deep down he really does not want to. Or perhaps he cannot. If she really wants this man in her life, then she feels that the more that she loves him, the more he will want to change. She invests a lot of herself, and when change does not come, she feels that she cannot quit her efforts because she has already put so much of herself into the relationship. Things do not flow easily anymore, and life has become a struggle.
Part of growing up is realizing that we cannot change others. It is also knowing that we are responsible for our own happiness and wellbeing.
When a relationship reaches this point, it is time for the couple to wake up. If they do not, they continue this painful dance, drifting farther and farther apart. Waking up involves looking honestly at what they are doing. It means bringing the issues out into the open. Each person has to be honest with self about what he or she needs, and about the bottom lines. If the bottom line is no addictions, no dishonesty, or no put-downs, and if the partner has a problem complying, then his or her dysfunctions are stronger than the love. If one wants deeper communication, more intimacy, less conflict, and the other is not willing to look at these issues, then a relationship in the truest sense does not even exist.
Part of growing up is realizing that we cannot change others. It is also knowing that we are responsible for our own happiness and wellbeing. Sometimes it is not so much the other who needs to understand and respect our needs and boundaries, as it is our own selves. The more we know of these before getting into a relationship, the better. Then we will not need to create princes (or princesses), only to turn them into frogs.