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Q:    “My husband presented me with a list of things he would like to change about me. It took me a little by surprise, but I have to admit that several of his requests were legit. I know I need work in some areas, but the others he outlined were harsh. 

I am especially struggling with three of the requests: drop three dress sizes, become more interested in sports, and wishes I was a blonde instead of a brunette. I’m afraid it would be unreasonable of me to tell him I’m not on board for three of the 10. I don’t want to lose him, but I do feel our relationship has been a bit strained as of recent months. How should I respond to him without creating more tension between us?”

Joyce’s FIX: Myriad thoughts run through my head as I consider how to encourage you to stay the course and preserve this marriage. Of course, I’m an advocate for keeping a family together and would cheer you on to do almost whatever it takes to save yours. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t first attempt to advise you to save yourself.

I’m curious as to whose idea the 10-ways-to-improve-your-spouse list was to begin with. Did you exchange lists, or are you the only one who received one? My advice to you would be somewhat different depending on the answer to my question.

By your own admission, your marriage has been strained for several months. I would hope you each have sought counseling in order to get your feet back on solid ground. If so, perhaps this was an exercise given to you as a couple to complete. That being the case, it should be embraced as a sincere effort to work through difficult issues each of you are facing with the other.

I am of the impression, however, this could possibly be a one-sided enumeration of grievances. You say you are fully aware of seven being problematic behavior on your part. I find it exceptional that you have owned those and there’s no push-back of your desire to change in order to please.

Sports, size, and sizzle. Now, those are radical changes, none of which wouldn’t be attainable should you desire. But are these things you “want” to change? Let’s address each.

Sports. Does he want you to play football or just watch it? Not everyone is sports-minded. Our interests vary. It keeps us unique and within our realm of individuality. What I hear your husband saying is “I want you to do things with me.” Personally, I can take football or leave it, but I watch many games because I enjoy spending time with my husband. He played golf for years before I decided to join him, and now I play without him. I would hope your husband shares in your interests, as well. (If not, it’s certainly a list you could begin for him.) We can all “fake a punt” at times [pun intended]. That’s certainly one on the list you could accomplish for the sake of the marriage.

Size. Most of us would love to drop a dress size or two. With a lot of determination and discipline, it is usually an attainable goal. His mere suggestion alone has planted a seed of insecurity in your head. What will you do with that — plant it or toss it aside? You alone must learn to accept who you are, and part of that is the body we were given. Ask yourself: Is there something I can do to improve my size and I simply lack the time and/or will to do it? As we age and bear children, sizes can “grow” on us women. I believe our men should take into consideration our sacrifices to become mothers, as well as hormonal changes which occur. Size down if you want to please him, but do it more for yourself.

Sizzle. He wants a blonde? You don’t have to cave to every whim and wish of his, but if you want to keep him and not create a tug-of-war, start with highlights. Don’t go full platinum, but change it up. He might not like it at all, but you could. 

Most of all, be happy with yourself. Work on the things you agree are issues and work on those you don’t agree with. Don’t lose yourself in the quest, but show him your willingness to go the stretch for a better marriage. You could find this wish list was a red flag warning you of someone new. You could also let him know you’ve completed your list, now here’s his.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at justaskjoyce@gmail.com and find a solution for life.

P.S. Be your own cheerleader

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