If you are newly in love, the new man at your side will also like to wrap the new man in cotton candy. Mr. Perfect is beyond any doubt, softened by the rose-colored glasses. We classify his unusual characteristics as “sweet” or “interesting”. But soon the daily routine creeps in – and that is the killer of every pink filter.
Suddenly we find cute quirks of the partner annoying or ridiculous. Why, for example, does he always wear tennis socks and why does he hardly take the time to cook with you or talk about the day in detail? All of a sudden, Mr. Perfect is quite imperfect. And we fell in love with him just like that.
Why is it that women in relationships tend to want to change their partner according to their wishes? We have discussed with the Berlin psychotherapist and book author Dr. Wolfang Krüger (“This is how love succeeds, even if the partner is not perfect”, BoD for 10 Euro) and asked him what was behind it.
Do so many women really want to change their men?
Dr. Wolfgang Krüger: “Yes, 72 percent of all women would like to change their partners, but 90 percent of men refuse.”
You almost always encounter characteristics in your partner that we cannot be 100 percent at ease with © Mikhail_Kayl / Shutterstock.com
Do only women want to change their partners?
Dr. Krüger: “No, we all always find qualities in our partners that we would like to change. But men are more likely to avoid them if they feel they cannot change their woman. They retreat, spend more time at work or cheat. Women invest more effort in changing the relationship.”
Do such women have the wrong partner or the wrong attitude towards relationships?
Dr. Krüger: “Only about 10 percent of women have the wrong partner, and most of them were in love with him at the beginning. But then they fall into a fainting spell because they want to change their partner and there are record conversations in which they criticize the same thing over and over again.”
Is he right for me?
What is behind the desire to change your partner?
Dr. Krüger: “A good partnership is a team. This is a high standard because everyone brings negative qualities into the relationship. One person withdraws quickly, another likes to be served or is impatient and gets loud. It is normal that we do not accept these peculiarities.”
Does this mean that you should not always accept your partner as he or she is?
Dr. Krüger: “No, that would be fatal. But I need to learn which paths to change are really viable and when I get into a power spiral.”
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Do many people have an unrealistic idea of the perfect partnership?
Dr. Krüger: “More than 90 percent of all young people already have the desire for the great love. So we have the expectation that you will feel your heart beating again and again, even though you spend your everyday life together. We expect the partner to be very reliable and yet exciting. Our expectations of love are very high, but in principle they can be fulfilled if we are willing to change our own lives. Sometimes you have to demand changes very directly.
But most of the changes will happen when I finally do all this, which I have always put off. The partnership with oneself is the most important relationship and if it succeeds I also have the necessary momentum to change my partnership”.
Our expectations of love are very high, but in principle they can be fulfilled © Mikhail_Kayl / Shutterstock.com
Is it even possible to educate someone or is the effort in vain?
Doctor. Kruger: “Of course the basis of the other must be preserved and I must acknowledge the partner as he is. But we can change basic characteristics. Then unpunctual partners pay attention to the time, men help a lot in the kitchen and become much more affectionate and listen.”
How can I address the things that really bother me?
Dr. Krüger: “Friendly and direct. And then I’m gonna have an experience. There are habits that anyone with goodwill can change. For example, the unscrewed toothpaste tube. But there are also personality traits that are hard to change. They were formed in childhood and the partner only changes them under great pressure.”
And what about exteriors? For example, if one of the partners demands that the partner dress differently.
Dr. Krüger: “Friedrich Schiller once told his wife that he would like to shape her according to his ideas. Some men still have this wish today and encounter the justified resistance of women. Of course, everyone is allowed to bring in their own wishes, but they must always accept their partner. And then men have to get used to the fact that women also bring in their wishes. Men should then pay more attention to their clothing and weight and go to the doctor regularly.”
A central question when someone tries to change their partner: At what point does change make sense and when is it just about power games? © Mikhail_Kayl / Shutterstock.com
The criticism is of the partner is a fine line. Where does wishing stop and where does manipulation begin?
Dr. Krüger: “Wishing makes me aware that I might not get something. Sometimes I have to do something on my part, so I have to earn it. When wishing, I am convinced that something is due to me and I get very angry if this does not happen. Manipulation is always disrespectful, I treat my partner as if he were a dog that I train with treats. Nevertheless, in a partnership I need a good strategy in addition to the emotional level, which also has to do with power and recognition”.
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How can one learn to live with the “imperfect” and still be happy?
Dr. Krüger: “By practicing above all the principle of indirect change. Then you have the focus of life in yourself, you realize your own life goals and in this way the system of partnership changes. It depends on me – in this optimistic insight lies the secret of good partnerships”.
How does that work in practice?
Dr. Krüger: “First of all, it is fundamental that you make good friendships so that you are not too dependent on your partner. Your relationship has to breathe, then you will become interesting for the other person again. The decisive factor is always your own development. Because your vitality, your joy of life will dissolve the stagnation in the relationship. It releases tremendous energies when you realize personal developments with relish – instead of wanting to change your partner.
So is self-love the key to happiness?
Dr. Krüger: “Yes. So form a partnership with yourself, find your inner center. Then you will feel a profound living process begin, which will change you and your partnership comprehensively. 90 percent of all love relationships can be sustainably improved in this way – even if your partner is not perfect.