Not changing people

Last night I had a conversation with my best friend’s husband, and I was talking about how, if you have some insatisfaction in a relationship, it’s a much more sustainable approach to change your mindset and your thoughts, than to try and change the other person.

He had a very strong resistance to this idea, saying that of course in a relationship each person has to be willing to listen to what the other person needs, and make an effort to change their actions accordingly. He seemed to believe that this was a most basic agreement of a functioning relationship.

This is the way I used to think too. Of course, I’ve followed your teachings for so long now that I no longer think this way for myself in my relationship, yet I wasn’t able to make a convincing case for this idea that each person should own the way they feel and not be made to feel responsible for the other’s emotional well being.

What he was hung up on in particular is the idea that if the wife for instance, is getting burnt out on household/childcare stuff (which happened to my friend in question) then the husband should absolutely step up and do more around the house to create a more balanced / fairer situation.

I left the conversation feeling confused because I could see his point and was no longer sure what to think.

If one person in the relationship is having difficulties and asking the other one for help or a changed behavior, isn’t it reasonable to expect from a loving, caring partner, that they would help or make an effort ?

In the case of my friend who had a sort of nervous breakdown (following a traumatic experience during a terrorist attack) and felt overburdened with family stuff, would we have advised that she work on her thoughts rather than asked her husband to do more around the house and kids to make her feel supported and lighten her load?

Thank you for your insights!