As love and marriage experts, our favorite research question for a woman whose marriage has failed is : Why do you think your marriage failed?
The answer we often get from our female respondents is this, "I thought I could fix him." We wish she had asked us about this issue before she decided she could change him into "Mr. Right."
The truth is, YOU CANNOT CHANGE HIM! Either accept him the way he is—warts and all—or move on. He cannot be a "fixer-upper project."
Always remember, the personality of a human being is WELL established by their early to late teen years! If you think you can change him, you are potentially setting yourself up for an unsatisfying and failed relationship . . . and often times, with dangerous consequences.
There are many red flags in a relationship that can help you determine if the guy you think you want to marry has any of the 7 fatal personality flaws. Recognizing these seven fatal personality flaws could save you from a lifetime of unhappiness, distress, and, very often, danger:
1. Bullying Behavior: Nobody likes a bully. We have all seen them. And sadly, there is a bully in many marriages and in many relationships. There are bullies everywhere, make no mistake about it. A bully wants to show you that they are in charge of YOU! A bully wants to make you cower in his presence. He is always trying to get inside of you and weaken you. A bully is a termite. He wants to eat away at your interior so he can control you. So, we ask this simple question, "Does your mate bully you?" If he does, it is time to walk away from your relationship.
2. Condescending Attitude: Here's the deal—your guy is NOT your master, ladies! You are not his slave. And frankly, there is no hierarchy in a loving relationship. He is not more important than you. His attitudes and opinions do not trump yours. If he exhibits a condescending attitude towards you more than once a week, you might want to reconsider your relationship with him. There are no feelings of superiority in successful loving relationships. Love and friendship are all about equality. If he acts like he is superior, it is time for you to move on!
3. Controlling Behavior: We often hear women say to us, "He always wants to be in charge." "He wants to have the last word." "If I want to go to movie X, he buys tickets for movie Y." He wants to control who you talk to, what you do and where you go. The simple truth of the matter is this—he wants to be in charge. Behaviors tell us a story, of that you can be sure. He has no right to be in charge. True loving relationships are characterized by adherence to democracy—a relationship where responsibility is shared. Having someone "in charge" does not make for a healthy relationship or marriage.
4. Narcissistic Personality: Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. This is a serious red flag to be cautious about. Men with narcissistic personalities cannot be changed.
Many women we have interviewed tell us that their so-called "partner" believes everything should be about him and that he has an insatiable need for admiration and self-aggrandizement. In his mind, he is more important than her. But here is the simple truth—no human being is superior to another! If he thinks he is superior to you, you should demonstrate otherwise by walking away from your relationship with him. It really is that simple.
5. Manipulative Actions: Here is a simple question for you to contemplate—does the guy you love try to manipulate you? Does he try to "pull your strings" as if you were a puppet? Does he try to exercise power over you through his manipulation of the situation? And more importantly, does he continuously find different ways to manipulate you—your actions, your feelings, your behaviors, and your aspirations? The divorced women we have interviewed over the years tell us that their failed relationship was, more than anything, the result of her ex's manipulation of them—his lack of appreciation for her free will, her ability to make her own decisions.
6. Lack of Follow Through: Okay, he promised you a rose garden, but never delivered! He told you he would take you to dinner, but made excuses for why he didn't do it. He told you he would cut the grass, but didn't. He told you he would be there by 8:00, but didn't show up until 10:00. The truth is, he told you he would do a lot of things. In the end, he rarely ever follows through on his promises. Pay attention to his actions—not following through is a warning sign of a characteristic that rarely ever changes.
7. Cannot be Trusted: Our research as love and marriages experts demonstrates that the best marriages have at their core—TRUST! If you can't trust the one you love, you are in deep doo-doo. Trust us on this (pardon the pun). During our thousands of interviews around the world, we are continuously reminded of the centrality of trust to the most successful marital relationships. In those marriages that survive over time, they all report to us that their undying trust for each other carried them through the good times and the bad. Trust is at the heart of every happily married couple’s relationship.
If you have caught the man you think you are love in lies—even little lies—be very cautious. Brushing it off as no big deal can have major consequences. If he talks about how he doesn't have to be truthful with his friends or family members in certain circumstances, be very cautious. If he can lie to a friend or family member, he will lie to you.
Here is the most important lesson of all—if he is flawed, if his actions and behaviors correspond to any of these seven fatal flaws, you have to understand that you cannot fix him! If he demonstrates any of these pervasive personality characteristics, he is impossible to change. If you want to flail away at windmills, go ahead and believe that you can change him. But in the end, you will be terribly disappointed.
Remember that truism that mothers have been saying to their children forever—"Actions speak louder than words."
Creating a successful marriage or relationship is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our blog suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.
**Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts