The idea that people don't change: what does it mean for me?
December 4, 2012 6:14 PM Subscribe
People don't change. If accepting that reality is the way to peace, how do I reconcile it with being married to someone with whom I'm incompatible in fundamental ways? (I am committed to this marriage because we have a young child who means the world to me and needs me.) Do I need to stop believing there could be core change in another person's outlook on life?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My marriage often feels unsustainable to me. Yet it's also unthinkable to be away from my son for much of his life (we agreed to share custody should we ever split), not to mention the toll on him that being away from Mommy even part-time would mean.
Because of this conflict, I feel a strong hope that my wife is capable of fundamental change. I really need some help with thinking about whether that hope is unrealistic and therefore unhealthy for me.
She has lifelong mental health issues that are beyond my ability to understand or help with. We're currently a few months into (very long overdue) individual work with a psychiatrist for her and relationship therapy for us. I waver constantly between thinking "give the therapy time" and thinking "the core issues are not going to change and I do not want to spend my life like this."
If it's false hope to think people can change at core, then is it unhealthy to base hope for a relationship's future on that hope? (Some core differences here: I think the world is essentially safe and good and exciting; she thinks the world is essentially unsafe and people are essentially predatory, nothing is exciting except our son, and concepts such as forgiveness and "gratitude" [I am not allowed to speak the G word around her because of how negative she feels it is] are tools of the people who would take advantage of her if she bought into those concepts -- and she thinks I'm very naive for believing in good the way I do. She's extremely focused on anger and vengeance, on 'getting back at' people who do wrong and need to be exposed for what they are, and the idea of "letting go" of anger makes her, well, really angry, because anger is power.) She is very clear she's not interested in any chemical treatment, and I don't know how much core effect talking with her psychiatrist is going to have.
I've tried a lot to write a question about the validity of the "staying together for the child's sake" idea, but I've realized that question seems moot because I feel like I would stay with the child despite almost anything. So I'm hoping a broader question will help -- this question about expectations/realism, my philosophical approach. I need to know whether I really need to adjust to the idea of living with a person who's going to be fundamentally 'about' depression, anxiety, and simmering anger for the rest of her life, rather than hoping that can change. (If can change my own perspective/hopes, could that be a way toward peace for myself?)