"I hope that you are able to look again at your good-enough man and realize that it isn't necessary or even desirable that he be a prince or that you find a happily ever after," writes Sally Watkins in her self-help book Change Your Mindset, Not Your Man. "There is so much value in accepting both him and yourself the way you are and growing in strength and wisdom as you confront the reality of your life together." Watkins challenges her readers to let go of belief in the perfect relationship, and to accept their partner as he is without trying to change him. It's radical, it's at times counter-intuitive, but it might just work.
This book is full of relationship gems. The purpose of a relationship is not to make you happy; only you can do that for yourself. Relationships take a lot of work, and complaining or trying to shape your husband into your ideal man is not going to work. Leaving the relationship for something better won't work either (apart from abuse cases), since many women find themselves in a new relationship with the same problems. Watkins' advice is simple. In order to have a fulfilling and wonderful relationship, you have to put yourself first and find what makes you happy. When you are happy with yourself and fulfilled as a woman, you will reflect positively on your relationship.
Some of Watkins' advice was a little hard to swallow. Unlike psychologists like Dr Phil who encourage both partners to give their marriage all their effort, Watkins believes that the woman may have to do the lion's share of the work. Also, when actively listening to your husband's feelings in an argument, Watkins' suggests accepting that your opinion may never be heard or validated.
There are things from this book that I will try—to criticize less and accept more. I do believe that strengthening myself as a woman will make my life better. While I don't agree with everything Watkins says, Change Your Mindset, Not Your Man offers a fresh perspective on love and life and offers countless ideas to freshen your relationship.
Sally B. Watkins, MSW, is a licensed psychotherapist who has been practicing in California since 1989. She has a master's degree in social work from the University of Maryland and has published several articles and columns for her local newspaper. Visit her website.
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