"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change"

I’ll never forget sitting at church one day and hearing my Pastor speak about relationships.  He said, “Don’t think about what you like about him/her, think about what you don’t like, and ask yourself if you can live with that.”  I’m no relationship expert, however in my 46 years on this earth, I’d say that I have learned quite a bit, either from my interactions with the men I have dated, from watching my friends and family members, or from books that I have read on the subject.  Relationships seem to be pretty difficult for us to navigate.  We enter into romantic relationships with certain expectations.  Some relationships are casual and not meant to last.  We go into them knowing that this person is not someone we are going to spend our life with, but we enjoy his/her company.  There are other times when we meet a person and we think to ourselves, “Yeah, this one could be a keeper.”

A few weeks ago, I was discussing relationships with some friends of mine.  The discussion centered on how husbands were not doing x, y, and z.  My question was, “Did they ever do x, y, and z?”  Have they ever exhibited the behaviors you now expect them to exhibit? Here’s the truth, when we meet people 9 times out of 10 that isn’t the real person.  He/she has shown up on the date in their best outfit, on their best behavior, ready to impress.  In essence we meet the representative, the person that is standing in for the “real” person.  The representative is cool, we like the representative.  He’s respectful, he pulls out chairs and open doors, and he’s always on time.  We are digging the representative.  Eventually though, the “true self” is revealed, and we figure out there are some things we just don’t like.  Many times, we are willing to overlook those things, either because we don’t think it’s that important, we just choose not to deal with it, or for some strange reason we think that we can make them change.  If she didn’t like to cook, and you all ate out most times, why would she suddenly become Betty Crocker?  If he was the life of the party and has an outgoing personality, why would he sit in the corner talking to only you all night? 

Wikipedia defines dating as a stage of romantic relationships I humans whereby two people meet socially with the aim of assessing the other’s suitability as a perspective partner in an intimate relationship or marriage.  Is this person suitable for you, or are you just waiting until you’ve had a chance to change him/her into the person you really want?  It’s almost like having an ulterior motive.  You are professing to be okay with what you have to get what you want.  Doesn’t seem like a healthy way to begin a marriage.

We have to give people space to be themselves or bow out gracefully.  People can change, but only if that’s what they desire.  Having the opportunity to learn and grow from a relationship is far more valuable than entering into a marriage with someone you don’t like and making each other miserable.  Sometimes we are so consumed with the idea of marriage that we neglect to think about the nature of marriage.

We can’t expect people to change, we have to love them for who they are, or don’t.  But don’t make it his/her responsibility to change into the person you want them to be because you’re not happy with who they are.  If you are contemplating marriage, ask yourself, “What don’t I like about this person?  Can I live with that?”