Patience is Not the Best Choice for Improving Relationships

What do “patience,” and “kissing frogs,” have in common?

patience kissing a frog
Patience in marriage is like kissing a frog

They are both equally ineffective ways to turn your partner into Prince or Princess Charming. If you are single, you are far better off finding someone less frog like.  If you are married, it is time to stop using patience as a method to get your spouse to change and to start creating the changes in your relationship that you want to happen.  Don’t wait until you run out of patience and then jump ship.  If your partner used to be a prince or princess, you can help him or her to be one again.

Are you thinking that people don’t really kiss frogs? I have worked with a lot of men and women who date women and men that have many problems such as drug or alcohol abuse, other girlfriends/boyfriends, jealous and controlling behaviors, and selfishness.  I call these the “frogs.”  And who is kissing them?  That’s right, the men and women who are hoping that by the force of their love they will change this person into a prince or princess.  People can change, but they don’t change by kisses, they don’t change by getting married (except for the worse), and they don’t change by being patient with them.

If you are kissing a frog waiting for the prince or princess to appear, I think it is time for you to either find something more effective than kisses or stop dating frogs.  Here is an example email from a woman waiting for her boyfriend to change from a frog to a prince:

Me and my partner have been together for three years.  Recently we had a big fight because he continues to lie to me about talking to other women.  I love him so much and know that we are soulmates, but don’t know how to stop him from cheating and lying.  Can your coaching help me to fix this because I don’t want to lose him.

Many coaches love to get these kinds of clients and promise to help them make their boyfriend faithful and loving.  They promise to help turn the frog into a prince.  What I know, however, is that this frog is never going to be a prince and any woman who marries him is going to regret it. No matter how connected this woman feels to this frog, he is not her soul mate (there is no such thing as a soul mate).  She has prematurely committed to the wrong man because of her own neediness.  Her solution is not to fix him, but to fix herself by becoming a more secure woman who can see her boyfriend for what he is.  It is a harsh reality, but we don’t improve our lives by hoping and wishing.  We make it happen or else it doesn’t. (See my book, Overcome Neediness and Get the Love You Want, if you need to learn how to make it happen).

Did you already marry a frog who failed to turn into a prince or princess?

If you have already married a frog, then you know that kisses are not going to change him or her into a prince or princess.  But, do you know that patience also will not change him or her into a prince or princess?  Can you believe that some people use this patience method for ten, twenty, or even thirty years waiting for it to work?  I think the main reason that people do that is not because they are such big believers in patience.  I think it is because they believe the alternative is to end the relationship.  But, it isn’t.  The opposite of inaction is not escape.  The opposite of inaction is action–actively taking constructive steps to improve your relationship.  This is why I wrote What to Do When He Won’t Change, and Connecting Through Yes! Both of these books are filled with words and actions for changing bad relationships to good ones–when one has a partner who is not likely to be helpful in the process.

Is your partner to blame or could it be your patience is to blame?

Is it your partner’s fault that he or she doesn’t change into a prince or princess when you use patience or kisses?  No, a frog can’t help being a frog.  It’s not his fault that he doesn’t change when you use ineffective methods.  Is it your fault?  Well, it may be.  It depends on what you are doing to change your partner.  If you are blaming, controlling, complaining, and so forth, you are going to create a negative reaction in your partner.  If you have children and you treat them badly or use poor boundaries, they are going to act out and have social problems.  And, you will be largely to blame. The last thing I want you to do is to blame your spouse.  Why?  Because it does NOT result in change.  Your life will only change, your relationships will only improve, when you take responsibility for everything that happens to you in life.  You can’t stop the rain from falling, but you can decide whether you are going to stand in it, complain about it, or get an umbrella.  You can’t stop other people from behaving badly, but you can decide whether you are going to just be patient with it, complain about it, or actually do something about it.

What can you do?

If you are dating, take a close look at what you’ve got.  See him or her for who he or she is.  Assume that he or she is going to be the same way as now for the rest of his or her life.  If you still want him or her, then you may be the right partner.  If you say “Yuck.  I don’t want to be married to a frog,” then it’s time to date others, too.  I don’t mean that you need to throw the frog into the road, but don’t commit to someone before you have things the way you want them to be. If you have committed to this frog, then uncommit before dating others, or else you will be a cheater.  And, make sure you do go back to the frog pond to find your next boyfriend or girlfriend.  If you don’t know how to find quality, then learn. You also need to learn how to get your boyfriend or girlfriend to commit to you.

If you are married to the frog already, then don’t despair.  But don’t keep using patience, and by all means don’t file for divorce.  All that is likely to achieve is to result in your getting a new frog with the same old problems.  My very, very, very, very best advice is to learn to deal with your partner’s behaviors.  There is nothing that your partner is doing that other people haven’t learned how to deal with in positive, constructive, secure ways.  Many of those ways are in my books, downloads, and articles.  I always recommend books, because trying to fix your relationship reading articles is like buying all the parts of a car separately and trying to assemble it at home.  If the book isn’t enough, then relationship coaching comes next.

Reality-check

1. Make a list of things that you are trying to accomplish in your life or that you hope will happen in your life.

2. Add to it as you think of more things.  Some examples are, be financially stable, have a good marriage, be healthy, have fun, have many friends, get good grades, change the oil in my car, etc.  Everybody has things they are trying to accomplish, although they may not have thought  of them in that way.

3. Next, write after each item whether you have had any real improvement in this area in the last 6 months.  You need to be honest with yourself (always).

4. If things are not improving, or are getting worse, then what you are doing is not working.  Doing it more or “trying harder” will also not work.  This does not mean that you have a bad goal.  It means that you don’t have an effective method. Write after that item, “I need a new method.”

You can predict the future (at least for yourself)

From this you will see, realistically, where you are headed if you don’t change, as well as what you could have if you can find some effective methods to get what you want. Don’t give up, but don’t keep doing things that don’t work.

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