Do You Have A Plan For Improving Your Spouse?

All of us with husbands and wives (mates, whatever) are perfectly positioned to make them better human beings. But it seems to me that most of us squander it. Today I’d like to help fix that.

With the possible exception of your children, there is no one you’re likely to be closer to than a spouse. And that even goes for a lot of people with problem spouses; being with someone day and night over a protracted period conveys more understanding than pretty much anything else. Along with that comes opportunity. No one can present and support more ideas; no one can better nurture attitudes; no one will have more “right times” to insert a useful word, feeling, encouragement or compliment.

And so the position of spouse can be of immense effect. What I’m suggesting today is that we use it consciously and intelligently.

I am fully certain that we can make each other better people. Wives can make their husbands better and husbands can make their wives better. No one is better placed, no one has better reason for doing it, and no one will be better able to make course corrections as they go.

This, in a better world, would be glaringly obvious to us and would come to us naturally. It doesn’t, of course, and so I’ll start by going through the major obstacles I see.

Our Culture of Complaint

Humans like to complain. More than that, we gain a sort of status from it; or, as we used to say, “bragging rights.” We’re suffering, but continue performing our duties anyway. We overcome the stupid obstacles thrown in front of us by stupid people. And so on. It conveys an image of vibrance and nobility, and we can generate that image upon demand.

Bear in mind, please, that I’m not saying the these quasi-boasts are false. Very often they are not. (Though they tend to be poorly-directed). The problem with complaint is that it becomes a go-to, feel-good tool, and displaces more important uses of mind. Uses like actually solving problems.

Ultimately, the culture of complain treats circumstances as fate and absolves us from all responsibility for improving ourselves and our families.

I’m quite sure you can see how this undermines any plan for making our spouses better.

Adversarial Images

Women and men have always developed adversarial images of each other, and based (at least loosely) on legitimate reasons.

Firstly, we’re born with an innate and overpowering reproductive urge (the need for sex) and thus we are forced together. In a better world, we’d handle this far better and teach our children to handle it far better, but here we are now, and so we must deal with where we are now.

Propelled by our very bodies, we still try to find mates we appreciate in as many ways as possible. Choosing is hard, however, and we’re all doing it under biological pressures, not to mention the pressures applied by other people. (I think we’re generally getting better at this, but it remains an issue.)

The conditions spawned by this, combined with our culture of complaint, seem to promote wives complaining about husbands, husbands complaining about wives and so on. And in some ways, this is fine. Wives, for example, often compare strategies for dealing with the oddities of their husbands.

Still, once this becomes habitual, it focuses us on our spouse’s shortcomings, rather than seeing how to improve them.

Making it worse over the past few generations has been militant feminism. All militant mindsets require an enemy as a focal point, and this one chose men. This is not to say that feminism per se is a bad thing; but any movement featuring an enemy is biased away from improvement and toward destruction.


The consistent message of pop culture is that love is about salving insecurities. How many “I need you” songs have you heard? And wouldn’t “I want you more than I need you” be a bigger compliment?

Our culture, then, sees insecurity as a fundamental pivot, with love turning upon it. I think that’s deeply mistaken. Love is a desire to bless… a hunger to bless. It is not based upon insecurity; rather, it works to remove the insecurities of a beloved.

Far too many relationships involve the matching of insecurities rather than eliminating them. And as that goes on, people learn not to believe in their own worth, finding safety in the fact that their spouse is a little bit more insecure than they are.

The Fields Are White For Harvest

The couples of the West, then, have wide and fertile vistas in front of them. Whether or not your plan is formal and written, you have it in your power to make your spouse a better person and I’m recommending that you give it some serious thought.

If you do this with any degree of success (which I think is as close to guaranteed as we can get), you’ll make your spouse better, make your family better (especially children), and you’ll almost certainly find yourself becoming better.

The whole thing is a massive win-win cycle. And so I recommend starting as soon as possibly and continually revamping your plan as you go.

Good luck!


Paul Rosenberg

7 thoughts on “Do You Have A Plan For Improving Your Spouse?”

  1. I kept scrolling down for an attachment or addendum to this article with a plan of action here Paul? LOL I get it it is up to us to come up with a plan of action since everyone’s situation is different.
    I have been on a quest for the last year to do exactly what you have expressed here in this article. While there have been ups and downs in my plan my understanding of what it takes to build my wife up is becoming clearer and clearer, not easy to implement but my goal is clear.
    I had a epiphany last year after reading the book “Garden of Peace” by Shalom Arush. I recommend every husband or soon to be husband read this book. I only wish I had read it 30 years ago.
    One of his statement in the book is that we are always trying to fix our spouse, he equates this to looking in a mirror and seeing our hat on crooked then trying to adjust the mirror instead of the hat. All of the problems in our relationship start with my self reflection on my own attitudes and actions.
    One note on this book is that the person reading it must have some religious or spiritual understanding. I have recommended it to some secular friends and they do not get it while my spiritual friends are astounded by the revelations in this book.
    I see results in my relationship but they are slower then I would like.
    Thank you for the inspirational message to continue on this path.
    All the best,

    1. Ah, Tom, you’re giving me another project! 🙂
      The Garden of Peace book sounds interesting, thanks… and you are most welcome.
      All the best,

  2. Such one-sided assumptions…

    Most women bend over backwards to “improve” relationships and themselves. Women are the majority consumers of “self help”…improve your marriage, how to be a better wife, how to satisfy your man…all of that ridiculousness keeps women on the page of not good enough or needing fixing and “constant improvement”. There is not the same effort put out by men.

    The majority of feminists do not see men as the “enemy” but the systems built into religion and government that desire to continue the destructive patriarchal status quo.
    Men(religious?) started misogyny and it continues and is increasing in this age of dystopian sex doll technology.

    Unfortunately, men (and some women) have been so steeped in the biased literary world of men, that they are not able to relate at all to the female experience.

    1. Snips and brief comments:
      “Most women bend over backwards to “improve” relationships and themselves… There is not the same effort put out by men.”
      – First, ‘improve relationship’ is not the same as ‘make your man better.’ Secondly, if women are better at this than men, great! I’m not focusing on levels of guilt.
      “The majority of feminists do not see men as the “enemy” but the systems built into religion and government that desire to continue the destructive patriarchal status quo.”
      – I reject ‘patriarchal status quo.’ That’s a broad and condemning conclusion, based upon cherry-picked facts. Men get crapped on too, and in some areas worse. By holding to such ideas we separate ourselves and divide between ‘enemy’ and ‘enlightened.’ Injustice is to be proved individually, not en masse.
      “Unfortunately, men (and some women) have been so steeped in the biased literary world of men, that they are not able to relate at all to the female experience.”
      – Of course we relate to female experience. We grow up with moms, sisters, aunts cousins and so on.
      My purpose in this post was to make us better to one another, not to point fingers.

  3. You cannot lift another person to a place higher than where you yourself are currently standing.
    Nor can you improve another person. All you can do is provide support, encouragement, and a good environment in which they will desire to improve.
    My wife and I have been married for 37 years, and we are still happy together. I am a far better man than I was when I married her, and I am certain that she would say that she is a better woman and wife than when we started out.
    But I never considered trying to improve her. She has an inborn desire to improve, as do I to a lesser degree, and I have tried to live up to the man she believes I am. I recall a few months after we were married and she started to open up about some of her previous boyfriends. They clearly were good men (she is not the type to be attracted to those who are not), and I asked her why she married me after passing all of them by.
    She looked at me with a raised eyebrow, and said, “I’ve kissed enough toads to be able to recognize a prince!”
    Wow! I pondered on that reply a lot, and made a firm commitment in my heart that I would do all in my power to ensure that she never had cause to change that opinion.
    Was she trying to improve me? Not at all. She already thought that I was wonderful, and I totally wanted (and still want!) to live with her such that she never feels to change that.
    If I am trustworthy, kind, considerate, cheerful, and patient, or at least strive to develop these characteristics, I don’t need to focus on trying to improve her. We will naturally improve together.

  4. I agree with some of the comments already posted. I think we are better rewarded improving ourselves, being the partner we want to have. If our partners wish to change, they will have us as a possible model.

    My wife and I have been married for 23 years, and we both remark on how our relationship keeps getting better and better, deeper and deeper. I am frequently going through self-improvement material, and rather than suggest she read/consume the same material, I put those parts that I align with into action.

    If we achive positive results through the changes I initiate, we both repeat it, and it grows.

    Periodically we reflect on the history we each had and we realize that it can best be summarized as “getting ready for the relationship we now share.”

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