By Creshawna Parker
Okay, so you and your husband dated, fell in love, got married, had a few kids and now you realize that he’s no longer the person he was when you first married him. Sound familiar? What happened to the man you once knew? Don’t fret; change is very common among couples. Things you once desired out of the relationship are no longer the things you need as your relationship progresses. It’s healthy for couples to grow as individuals, but sometimes it’s hard to adjust to the change, and the person we once married becomes a stranger sleeping in our bed, walking around our house and kissing us “hello and good-bye” every morning. Therapist and author Dr. Steven Craig speaks more about this in his new book, The Six Husbands Every Wife Should Have advocating that successful relationships should be viewed as fluid entities that are made by continually maturing people. In his practice and in the book, he teaches couples who are at various stages in their relationship to learn how to adapt to every stage they experience together. Here are some points we discussed with him:
In the introduction of your book, you said the things that your wife initially loved about you, she no longer liked at one point. How can a man appreciate and adjust to change instead of resenting it?
Many men are socialized to believe that change is bad. But these same men complain endlessly about their friends who tell the same old boring stories and do the same stupid things they did twenty years ago. Men need to recognize that the most successful people in life are those who are out in front of the curve — changing before everyone else does. Those are the trendsetters, not the same tired old guy who says the same things over and over again.
You mentioned that it’s important to reinvent yourself. How can a husband reinvent himself to please both him and his spouse?
I believe we should look at the process of changing like a tree that is continually growing. As a tree grows it gets more branches and becomes more full and more well rounded. It doesn’t become something entirely different. It only grows bigger, stronger and more complete. Husbands need to look at themselves in the same way. Changing doesn’t make one weak or different, it only makes one more well rounded and more capable. In the book I also outline many very specific myths men (and women) hold about how changing is bad and explain how these beliefs only hold people back in life.
If every wife should have six husbands, do you believe it’s necessary for every husband to have six wives?
Absolutely. In each stage of marriage I outline both the ideal husband and the ideal wife. After all, success in relationships is about finding ways for couples to grow and change together. That requires both spouses to change and mature through the years.
Can your book work for couples who are at various stages in their relationships?
This book can be read by anyone at any stage of marriage and many people do just that. I recommend that people read the entire book or just the parts that pertain to them. I have a bias against self help books that require one to read the entire thing in order to find one thing that pertains to them. I wrote this with that in mind. I want people to be able to read just the parts they want to and get something from that. When they start heading into a new stage they can pick up the book again and learn about what is to come.
Some couples believe that the reason for a breakup is when someone in the relationship changes. However, you state that a marriage fails when people don’t change. What is the difference between the two and how can a couple recognize when change is for the better?
I like to view myself (and all of us) as a stock on the stock market. When my wife married me she wasn’t just buying me, she was buying my potential. She was hoping that I would grow and mature through the years. If a stock doesn’t yield it’s potential, we sell it. The key is to realize that mature people change and mature couples figure out how to change together. If both people haven’t changed over the course of 10 years then something is terribly wrong.
Still , recognizing when change is for the better is a difficult process. Sometimes it feels wrong, but is still the best thing. In short, anything that allows the couple to grow rather than stagnate is a good thing. Anything that encourages them to resist change is not good for them. In my book I outline many ways to identify healthy changes versus unhealthy ones depending upon the stage of marriage you are in.
Related: How to Master Being in Relationship
From your experience, what would you say is the most difficult/rewarding stage a couple may face?
I believe the most difficult stage is also the most rewarding one. It is the Baby Years. However, the reason this stage is so difficult is misunderstood. People often blame the baby, saying that infants mess up relationships. In reality, they are just a lot of work. What makes marriages so difficult at this stage is that the parents aren’t prepared for how much they are each going to change. At this stage of marriage, intimacy changes, communication changes, our needs change, our expectations of each other change among other things. Couples eventually figure out how to deal with the new baby, but its learning how to deal with their “new” spouse that makes things so difficult.
What is the most important message you would like for readers to understand in your book?
I always tell people to embrace change with the same enthusiasm they embrace each other. A life long love affair is about falling in love over and over again with the same person. If that is what you are looking for then changing makes it all possible.
Do you have any additional advice for our visitors?
Start off on the right foot. Begin your marriage with the promise that you will each commit to growing and changing together. I believe we should use the following vows when getting married. Try these and see how that changes things:
I promise to share my life with you for as long as I live. To accomplish that, I promise to change when my marriage needs me to change and to grow when my marriage needs me to grow. I promise to be more than the husband you need me to be today. I promise to be the husband you need me to be today, tomorrow, and in the future. Life is about change, and I promise to change.
To read more about how change can benefit you and your partner’s relationship, purchase The Six Husbands Every Wife Should Have at Amazon. For information regarding Dr. Steven Craig’s practices, visit drstevencraig.com.