If you’re continuing reading after my last article, you know that once a person admits to themselves that something in their relationship needs to change, and once they progress to the point of accepting that some of that change must come from them, they ask questions such as “What’s in it for me if I change? What will I get from my partner?”
In the last posting on this subject, I wrote about what kind of change in your relationship you might receive from outside yourself, if you make significant efforts.
There are further deeper questions that some partners ask themselves when they accept that there are problems; “How do I feel about myself as a person, that I have treated my partner the way that I have?” “If I saw someone else doing the thing(s) that I have done, to someone I care about, would I approve of that person?” “How would I judge that person?” “How do I judge myself?” “Would I want my son or daughter to be in a relationship with someone like me?”
If you are asking yourself these kinds of questions and you are answering in negative ways, you may have arrived at the possibility that you will make changes not because of the benefits you may receive from someone else, but because you want to be a better person. You are building personal integrity.
What does that mean? It means that you are in the process (which I believe is life long!) of defining your own moral and ethical values, and choosing to live a life that is consistent with those values.
An example of how developing personal integrity will move you toward changing your behavior in your marriage might be this:
You believe that you want a partner who is your equal. You would like to treat your partner as an equal and you want your partner to treat you as an equal as well. However, your partner complains that you are “controlling”. Whether you say it or not, inside of you a little voice tells you that you have to control your partner because you know the right way to be, and your partner does not. How is that behavior, and those thoughts, consistent with wanting to treat your partner as an equal? Do your respect your partners’ equality by allowing them to act as an individual?
Do you have personal integrity? Would you like to have personal integrity?
Good counseling can help couples to uncover their deeper beliefs and to grow and change. Thanks for considering this!