What is one thing I can do to make your day better? This is one question that I believe, if we asked far more, can save many relationships.
My friend shared a blog post with me which was one of the most moving blog posts I’ve ever read. In fact, it brought me to tears. If you’d like to read this blog post I will post a link to it underneath this episode at beginningwithin.com. The post is titled, How I Saved My Marriage by author Richard Paul Evans. I am going to paraphrase the post and share why I found this so moving.
The way he describes his marriage is one where their personalities clashed more and more as their marriage went on. The fame that came with becoming a successful author didn’t help the marriage either. Things were so difficult that going on tour was a relief. There seemed like there was no hope in them ever having a peaceful relationship. Each of them became more defensive and hid behind more walls and they had even discussed divorce more than once.
One night, on tour, they had just had another fight over the phone when his wife hung up on him. He felt alone, frustrated. He had reached his limit. He broke down while taking a shower, not understanding why two good people couldn’t just get along. He asked himself, “Why had I married someone so different than me? Why wouldn’t she change?” From somewhere deep down he had an inspiration. “You can’t change her, you can only change yourself.
Returning home, he met an ice cold wife. That night, while lying in bed, another inspiration came to him. When he awoke in the morning he turned to his wife and asked, “How can I make your day better?” “You can’t,” was her angry reply. “Why are you asking?” His reply was, “Because I mean it. I just want to know what I can do to make your day better.”
She responded, “You want to do something? Go clean the kitchen.”
The next day he asked the same thing. “Clean the garage” He didn’t really have the time to spend two hours cleaning the garage but he did.
On the third day, when he asked his wife what he can do to make her day better, she replied, “Nothing! You can’t do anything. Please stop saying that.” And his response was ”I’m sorry, But I can’t.
She asked, “Why are you doing this?” And his reponse was, “Because I care about you.” “And our marriage.”
He did this every day. One day during the second week, after his the question, his wife broke down crying. She said, “I should be asking you.” He responded, ”You should,” I said. “But not now. Right now, I need to be the change. You need to know how much you mean to me.”
Like the walls of Jericho, their walls came tumbling down. Suddenly, two good people who never thought that they would have a normal relationship or were even capable of having a normal relationship were experiencing the true depth of what marriage is. Their marriage was not even saved by outside help. It was saved by one person simply coming to the realization that it is pointless to insist that those around me should change. It is very powerful on the other hand to look within ourselves and ask what we can change. Yes, the other person should be asking the same question, but that’s for them to come to understand and to do. The one thing that I and you need to do is to change ourselves. It’s also interesting to note that through him changing she in fact changed as well. And that is because when we begin it within we become a source of inspiration and the beginning of a new movement of change that becomes inspired in those around us.
Here are the lessons that we learn. We must stop spending our time trying to change the people things and circumstances around us. We must spend our time changing the one and only person that we can change, ourselves. When we change ourselves we suddenly begin to notice the changes we’ve always wanted to see in the people and circumstances around us taking place. Lastly, it does not take 2 people to fix a relationship, it only takes one. Which one? The one who is responsible enough and willing to begin taking full responsibility for their own life and stop insisting that the other change.