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Over the past three decades our favorite question for women whose marriage has failed is, "WHY?" What went wrong? Why do you think your marriage failed?
The answer we often get from our female respondents is this, "I thought I could fix him." We wish she had asked us about this issue before she decided she could change him into Mr. Right.
There is one truism you can take to the bank – YOU CANNOT CHANGE HIM! Either accept him the way he is—warts and all—or move on.
Always remember, the personality of a human being is WELL established by their early to late teen years! If you think you can change him, you are potentially setting yourself up for an unsatisfying and failed relationship . . . and often times, with dangerous consequences.
In our 30 years of interviews we have learned that there are seven telltale signs of relationships that will not work. These are not habits such as burping after dinner, leaving messes around the house, or turning the music up too loud. These are pervasive personality characteristics you cannot CHANGE or FIX. These are character flaws. Don't be fooled and don't be deluded into thinking you can make these attitudes and behaviors go away. You can't!
Here are the seven fatal personality characteristics to watch for:
1. Controlling Behavior: We often hear women say to us "He always wanted to be in charge." He wanted to "Have the last word." "If I wanted to go to movie X, he would buy tickets for movie Y." He wants to control who you talk to, what you do and where you go. True loving relationships are characterized by adherence to "democracy" – a relationship where responsibility is shared. Having someone "in charge" does not make for a healthy relationship.
2. Condescending Attitude: Here's the deal – your guy is NOT your master, ladies! You are not his slave. He is not more important than you and his attitudes and opinions do not trump yours. If he exhibits a condescending attitude towards you more than once a week, you might want to reconsider your relationship with him. If he acts like he is superior, it is time for you to move on!
3. Narcissistic Behavior: According to the Mayo Clinic, "Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings."
Many women we have interviewed tell us that their so-called "partner" believes everything should be about him and that he has an insatiable need for admiration and self-aggrandizement. If he thinks he is superior to you, you should demonstrate otherwise by walking away from your relationship with him.
4. Bullying Tactics : Let's be honest here – nobody likes a bully. A bully wants to push you around. A bully wants to make you cower in his presence. A bully is a termite. He is always trying to get inside of you and weaken you. He wants to eat away at your interior so he can control you. So, we ask this simple question, "Does your mate bully you?" If he does, it is time to walk away from your relationship.
5. Manipulative Actions: Here is a simple question for you to contemplate – does the one you love try to manipulate you? Does he try to "pull your strings" as if you were a puppet? Does he continuously find different ways to manipulate you – your actions, your feelings, your behaviors, and your aspirations? Some men always want to steer you towards a conclusion they would have drawn, not one you would have drawn. Beware of manipulation!
6. Lack of Follow Through: Okay, he promised you a rose garden, but never delivered! He told you he would take you to dinner, but made excuses for why he do it. He told you he would cut the grass, but didn't. The truth is, he told you he would do a lot of things. In the end, he rarely ever follows through on his promises. Heed the warnings – not following through is a warning sign that you should pay close and careful attention to.
7. Cannot be Trusted: We have found over the years that the best marriages have at their core – TRUST! If you have caught the man you think you love in lies—even little lies—be very cautious. Brushing it off as no big deal can have major consequences. If he talks about how he doesn't have to be truthful with his friends or family members in certain circumstances, be very cautious. If he can lie to a friend or family member, he will lie to you. If you can't trust him, move on. If you stay, you do so at your peril.
Here is the most important lesson of all – if he is flawed, if his actions and behaviors correspond to the aforementioned, you have to understand that you can't fix him! If he demonstrates any of these pervasive personality characteristics, he is impossible to change. If you want to flail away at windmills, go ahead and believe that you can change him. But in the end, you will be terribly disappointed.
His actions do, in fact, trump his words. Always remember the age old adage, "Actions speak louder than words."
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
**For marriage adviceand hundreds of practical tips, read the best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts(Jossey-Bass/Wiley). Available wherever books are sold. Learn more about America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts
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