Couples resort to using manipulation within a marriage for one reason: it works! But anyone who has been married for very long will tell you that manipulation is a muddy foundation for any relationship --- it's messy and unstable. Are there other ways to get a spouse to change? Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling THE FOUR SEASONS OF MARRIAGES, believes that there are more effective, long-lasting and loving ways to negotiate change with those you love.
HOME IMPROVEMENTS, the latest addition in The Chapman Guide series, provides a practical, down-to-earth blueprint for building a solid foundation for a healthy marriage.
Why is the desire for spousal change so universal and yet the reality of real, lasting change so rarely experienced? Chapman believes that most couples are starting at the wrong place, failing to understand the power of love and lacking the skills to effectively communicate the desire for a spouse to change.
Real change begins by changing yourself and not waiting for your spouse to make the first change. Chapman prescribes looking for the "plank in your own eye" and assessing your own weaknesses and failures in the relationship. He even goes so far as to encourage asking for outside help from close friends and family members and listening to their observations about your marriage. No doubt some of the comments will sting, but, if used prayerfully, they can help you begin to recognize areas that you need to work on.
What about the change in your spouse? That starts only after you've begun to strengthen the foundation of love in your marriage by learning to speak your spouse's love languages. Chapman draws from his bestselling book, THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, to encourage readers to fill up their spouse's love tank through words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch.
Now down to the nitty-gritty: When you deliver a request for change to your spouse, sandwich it with compliments and remember that even the most minute movement toward change should be applauded. At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that some things will never change, and that the real change is going to have to come from you. Chapman shares a personal story from his own marriage. His wife has a tendency to leave cabinet doors open. After asking her to close them for months and growing more frustrated with the lack of response, the couple's child fell on an open drawer and cut herself. Chapman thought the incident would compel his wife to finally begin closing the drawers. Two months later, it finally dawned on him: she was never going to close drawers! Chapman says he was faced with a choice: be miserable every time he saw an open drawer, or accept this as something that will never change and close the drawers himself. He wisely chose the latter, recognizing that such a simple activity only takes a second a day.
Such down-to-earth wisdom and advice line the pages of HOME IMPROVEMENTS. This is a quick, tight read --- perfect for brushing up on your marriage, even if it's already shining.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on December 18, 2006