Boy, if I had a nickel for everytime I've heard in a marriage counseling session "But you knew when you married me that I was like such and such", well, let's just say, I'd be reitred and sipping pina coladas on some island!
What is it about getting married that leads so many of us to act as if we've just signed up to be in prison forever with another person? And from that viewpoint, we begin to lock our SELF into a "but this is the way I am and you can't change me" game with our partners?
I was doing a recent session with a great couple, newly married when the but you knew when you married me line dropped like a bomb in the middle of the room. He was insisting that she couldn't change him, this was the way he was. Heels were digging in, both parties going to their corners!
However, in our before session small talk, he had shared with me how a major stressor at work that he'd been dealing with for 15 months had resulted in his changing dramatically the way he dealt with this group of people. In the initial phase he'd been a wreck, turning himself upside down and inside out. This was his typical pattern over the course of his life when confronted with big challenges. But because this issue had stretched on for so long, he'd had the opportunity to change the way he talked to himself about the issues (more proactive, calm) and also how he communicated with this group. At the end of 15 months, he was a very different business person in how he now approached work challenges--and he was much happier. They hadn't forced him to change--he had grown to the realization that if he continued to deal with stress and challenges in his traditional "this is the way I am", he would end up either killing himself or killing his business.
So I said to him, "If you can change your SELF in the work area of your Life Puzzle and see that it favorably impacts the life you're creating, then wouldn't it make sense that you could change you SELF in your relationship/partnership piece too and end up with a more favorable life?" He mulled this over a bit--heels trying to decide if they should relax or dig in harder. And then he started to laugh....
The real bottom line on all this is the reality that your SELF is ALWAYS changing! When you're 35 you don't see the world the way you did as a 10 year old. So why, when you marry, do you assume your SELF is a finished work and your partner either likes you the way you were when you got married or they can just get out (another nickel for every time I've heard it line)!
So, it's time to ask your SELF--is my marriage a changing work of art or a prison relationship of two non-changing people? I guarantee you, just as the man above discovered his business life was so much more enjoyable when he allowed himself to grow and change--you'll find your marriage a lot more fun if you accept growth and change as the normal flow too!