“I don’t think there is anything I can do to make her like me,” Stan said with disgust. “She’s got her mind up and there’s nothing I can do to change it.”
I looked at Stan, internally reflecting on how many times I’ve heard those words.
Many of us feel powerless to make someone like us, especially our mate. We take a passive stance toward the topic—either they like us or they don’t. Either they love us and will stay with us, or they won’t.
Stan further revealed his passive approach toward relationships when he added, “Things go good for us for a while and then they go bad. There are days when no matter what I do, it won’t be right.”
You may relate to what Stan is saying. You may sit back and wonder what kind of a day it’s going to be in your marriage. You may feel powerless to impact the feelings your mate has for you. But it’s not true.
“You really do have a powerful impact on your mate,” I said to Stan. “I suspect there are many subtle, and not so subtle, things you are doing that either draw her closer to you or push you away.”
“Boy, if that’s true I sure don’t know what they are,” he said.
“Have you asked her?” I asked.
“Well, probably not in the best way,” he said. “I’ve told her that there’s nothing I can do to make her happy.”
“I’ll bet that didn’t go over well,” I said. “That kind of accusation is the very thing I’m talking about. It’s those accusations, sarcastic comments, disregard for her feelings and other actions that add up to pushing someone away.”
Stan looked at me quizzically.
“Furthermore, I suspect you are capable of doing many positive things, and when you do more of those than the critical things, you’re going to have connection.”
“I don’t think it’s that simple,” Stan said. “I’ve tried some of those things and they don’t always work.”
“Of course you’re right, Stan,” I said. “Relationships are very complex. It could be that wounds from a week ago or even a year ago are piling up and impacting what is happening today. I can assure you, however, that relationships are like plants—water and nurture them and they will grow, in spite of us.”
There are several steps additional things to keep in mind for making your mate like you:
One, take charge of her/him liking you. Let go of your passivity and take charge of your relationship. Just as you did in your early dating days, develop a strategy for encouraging your mate to fall in love with you all over again.
Two, be an observer. Watch what happens! Notice when your mate is pleased with what you do and make a mental, or literal, note about it. Watch for and notice the patterns. When are you a pleasing person to be around and when you’re not. Observe!
Three, catch yourself doing it right and wrong. As you observe, you will start to notice patterns. For example, are you grumpy after a long day at work? Do you get cranky when walking in the door and the kids’ toys are strewn all over the floor? Are you uptight when the house is noisy or when your mate hasn’t shown you the affection you’ve been seeking? How do you respond? Catch yourself relating in a healthy way and notice the unhealthy patterns as well.
Four, correct the mistakes you are making. After you have collected enough information and analyzed the mistakes you are making that breaks connection to your mate, make corrections. Develop a plan for correcting your weaknesses. Get support for your plan, perhaps engaging the help of your pastor, accountability partner or Counselor.
Finally, give permission for your mate to give you feedback. Make an agreement with your mate to give you feedback on how you are doing. It is very difficult to make changes effectively without feedback on how we’re doing. While this takes courage, feedback offers you information to make subtle changes to your game plan.
Stan was able to see that he had more impact on his mate’s feelings than he had originally thought. Together we developed a plan and I’m happy to report that he is making positive gains in his mate’s feelings toward him.
Do you struggle with feeling powerless in impacting your mate’s feelings? To learn ways to respond more effectively, please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com. Please send responses to me at email@example.com and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.
Publication date: June 16, 2015
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/MangoStar_Studio