When men are faced with a break in their marriage or losing it altogether, they often do stupid things. They get desperate. They try anything, everything to get back what they feel slipping away. One of the first things they do is promise to change. They don’t always know what change they mean or what change their wives want, but that doesn’t stop them from promising.
And this irritates most women. They’ve probably heard it before, seen some temporary improvement, and watched things return to how they’ve always been. And that leaves them suspicious of the next disappointment. When they hear you promise again, they shut down or fight back to avoid another letdown.
So, men, don’t make those promises. Just change. And keep your mouth shut about it. Why?
Your wife doesn’t believe you. It’s not always that you’ve failed before. Change is a strange dynamic. The closer you are to the person who is changing (or wants you to change), the harder it is to tell that they’ve changed. Changes usually happen on a micro, not a macro scale. Real change happens over long periods of time with some setbacks, but the fruit over time will become evident. If you are proclaiming change now, your wife is seeing only the beginning and may not have the patience to wait around for the full fruit.
You may be fooling yourself. We may feel like we’ve made some strong decisions and steps in the right direction. But until proven out over a long period of time, those changes can’t be counted on to stick. We need to give ourselves time to prove that something real has happened.
I talk to a lot of men. I can usually tell if something real is going on or if they are just desperately promising whatever change their wife wants from them. Most of them believe something solid is happening. Fact is, we (all humans) are expert liars to ourselves. I will repeat, the only way to prove change is to wait and make sure the change doesn’t change back.
Words are empty, action speaks for itself. Change is about building new habits, not talking about them. When a man is determined to bend his will to the new truth he has encountered from God, he will change without telling anyone. His heart, his character, and his countenance will start to radiate outwardly to reflect what is going on inside. Real change doesn’t talk, it does.
Change rarely happens quickly. The determination to change can happen quickly and we mistake that for real change. This causes us to get all excited and tell our wives and others that we have changed. This is a recurring theme but I want to drive home this point. Give change the time it takes and don’t say anything about it until someone notices. When you have walked a long time in a determined direction that is different than how you used to walk, people will notice and they will comment. Receive that assurance from them and rejoice. You actually changed.
These are just a few of the reasons to allow change to happen silently. There are many more but these are the ones that seem to come up most often in my conversations with men.
Before we finish.
A word to women. Don’t give up on a change you think is taking place. If you see some hint of movement in the right direction, encourage it and wait. Give it time to take root and keep checking back month after month. Eventually, if the change is God made and real, your man will be different, better. You will notice. You won’t miss it. And then you can enjoy a man who is more Christlike, loving and gentle. It will be worth the wait.
A word to men. Be desperate with God, no one else. Desperation looks fake and cheap. Only God can hear the true inner cries of your heart and pull you out of your confusion and pain. If you feel your marriage or family slipping away, your desperation will only cause you to lose whatever grip you still have. Instead, pour your heart out to God and let Him pour molten steel in to burn out the fear and anxiety. Steel that will harden to become a shield of faith to bear you through what is ahead. Determine to allow God to cleanse the old sinful, disconnected ways. Let Him build a new foundation of intimacy and closeness. And say nothing – just let change happen.