Change Your Partner the Right Way (Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby, Part Twenty-Four)

My Relationship Journal: April

Lesson: Change Your Partner the Right Way

Book Notes and Quotes:

Kira Asatryan:

  • Model the changes you want to see in your partner. This works because: “it’s positive, not negative” and because “it’s rooted in our physiology. We all have mirror neurons in our brains that make us naturally inclined to mimic the people we like. If your partner is fond of you, she’ll feel naturally inclined to adopt the behaviors she sees in you.”
  • “There’s nothing that makes another person more willing to change than seeing you embrace change yourself. If you know you have a habit that your partner truly dislikes, make an effort to work on it. The effort she sees you putting into improving yourself will be an inspiration and will soften her heart towards changing herself.” (—

Dan Savage:

  • “You sand off the imperfections you can sand off so you fit together more comfortably, but then you have to identify those things that, no matter how much you bitch and complain about, will never change. And you have to ask yourself, Is this person worth paying the price of admission to put up with that? And not put up with it and complain about it and guilt them about it all the time, put up with it and shut up about it.” (—

My Relationship Resolutions:

  • I will figure out exactly what I want to change about my partner and our relationship. This can be harder than it seems.
  • I will determine whether or not I can help my partner make the change. Sweeping character alterations aren’t my territory. Changes of habit, schedules and circumstances might be.
  • I will only seek one big change at a time. This helps me clarify my needs, limit nagging and manage my expectations.
  • I will learn the art of the “slow nag.” Once I have a clear, main objective, rather than using the classic nagging technique—whine and repeat—I will use compliments, detached observations and jokes to good-naturedly encourage the change I want to see. Occasionally, a polite direct request will also do. An example of a detached observation: “That guy just bashed his wife to his friends. What a loser.” A joke: “You little stinker! Get your stinky butt out of bed!” And a direct request: “I really prefer it when you use a polite tone of voice when asking me to do something.”
  • Occasionally, after the slow approach hasn’t worked, I’ll use the confrontation method. During the confrontation I’ll use “I feel” and “lately it seems” statements, rather than “you are” and “you always” statements. I will focus on problems and solutions rather than perceived character flaws.
  • I will change, too. And talk about it with my partner.
  • I will be patient. People do change. People do grow. If I continue to expect the best of my husband, he will continue to move in that general direction (albeit rather slowly sometimes).
  • I’ll accept the things I cannot change about Matthew, even after four thousand super polite hints and conversations.

For the Fridge:

  • “I promise not to nag you to change, but to gently encourage it instead.”
  • “I promise to mirror back to you the change I want to see.”

Read the rest of the series at Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Novel.


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  1. Well said and well done.
    My first wife did not take hints very well and I did not give them very well as being passive prohibits a lot of that. The stroke changed that and now, I often have to apologize for getting a bit too direct at times. However, my needs and thoughts are known which is usually a good thing.