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You knew what s/he was like when you married her/him - is this reasonable?

(34 Posts)
bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 16:26:55

See many Mnet threads passim.


The marriage ceremony does not fix the relationship in amber, making it immutable evermore. In fact, the marriage vows are designed to illustrate the potential for change during the marriage, e.g. in sickness and in health, for better for worse, for richer for poorer etc.

IMO, a marriage requires continuous renegotiation and redefinition in the face of life changes - the most relevant example to Mumsnetters is of course the arrival of children.

So - "you knew the score when you married..." is not a valid reason to cling to the status quo when the circumstances require change.


hanaflower Tue 11-Sep-07 16:33:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lailasmum Tue 11-Sep-07 16:41:29

I can see what you are saying but there are some traits in people which you can't change, or which take a long time to change because they are such natural behaviour to a person it takes a long while to re-program.

Its a bit of both, accepting your partner for who they are and not being self centred enough to expect them to change AND being flexible enough to deal with new situations and experiences in a manner which strengthens you as a couple. Then you meet in the middle. You sort of have to build on what you had on your wedding day and grow with experience but I think people are allowed to fail at some things because that is normal and accepting a character flaw or something that a partner cannot achieve or a way in which they cannot change is an important thing too.

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 16:45:59

but character is destiny no?

can you just say well you knew i spent all my time <<<insert hobby here>>> at the weekends when you married me, so now that we've had twins, well that's just too bad for you, isn't it?

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 16:47:16

sorry but i would expect someone to change after a major life event, e.g. having a child, serious illness, redundancy etc. the other party can't simply carry on as before as if nothing had happened.

MascaraOHara Tue 11-Sep-07 16:49:20

it's about give and take though isn't it and the fact that both parties need to recognise that.

People change constantly, life changes you - your experiences, hopes, dreams, ambitions.. it's all a moving target

Dinosaur Tue 11-Sep-07 16:49:51

I think I agree with you, bossykate, but of course it cuts both ways - the things about someone that you liked when you got together with them are also not set in stone - and it can be hard not to feel betrayed when your partner just isn't the same, in an important regard, as they were at first.

expatinscotland Tue 11-Sep-07 16:50:37

I think 'you knew the score' does apply in certain conditions.

For example, if a person marries someone knowing they never want kids and are adamant about that.

Sure, that may change, but it would be foolish to marry such a person and then expect them to change their mind.

Ditto many personality traits.

lailasmum Tue 11-Sep-07 16:53:39

yes but say I am a naturally quiet/shy person, and that trait will never change no matter how much people expect it to, much very outgoing husband expected this to change as I got older, it hasn't and he regularly likes to put me in awkward situations which I can't cope with - that is just cruel. Also I think it could be easy to move to much away from you natural character anyway and totally loose touch with yourself. I don't mean in the not spending time with kids because you want to do something you did every weekend before they were born, but more in traits that make people what they are.

warthog Tue 11-Sep-07 16:55:59

i think it's disrespectful to assume that they'll change their mind once you get married. if there is something fundamental that you don't agree on, accept it, and move on. don't keep trying to change them

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 16:57:22

i think there are two strands to the discussion so far:

(1) Is it reasonable to expect behaviours to change in response to changing circumstances - IMHO, yes.

(2) Is it reasonable for people to change "character traits" over time - the answer seems to be no.

But how do you stop No 2 being an excuse not to address No 1?

Blu Tue 11-Sep-07 17:00:32

With the adoption of hanaflower's caveat about certain things, I agree with you, BK.

The whole ppoint of human expeience is that we grow and adpat to rise to the challenge of new experiences. Of course the advent of twins should affect the golf fixtures calendar. Of course expectations of all sorts of things should change as circumstnaces change.

BUT if , for example, you always knew that TomDickHarry was a gambler, or very lazy, or a hyper-energetic workaholilc, then you might expect not to be surprised when they apply that trait to everything they do subsequently.

In a sensible relationship between people with no fatal character flaws I would expect them to change, negotiate, compromise, be flexible with each other, respond to need, rise to challenges, and generally accept that certain things just need someone to say 'oh well, that changes everything'. Otherwise, as you say, how would partnership ever survive children - let alone something like a partner disabled, or ill, or needing to re-locate to outer-mongolia for work.

So: I think some things you have to allow for as a given - TomDickHarry is highly-strung, say, and do your best to try and predict how that might affect future life-events, and live with the 'highly-strungness' of their respnses...and other things - like golf - you can expect that a sensible father would relinquish, or downplay.

Also - how can a relationship get better (hollow laughter - talking theory here...) if no-one changes or grows or re-adjusts their priorities around joint circumstances?

Blu Tue 11-Sep-07 17:01:12

Yes - your very succinct last post x-posted with my immensly waffly one trying to say the same thing - and your q is v interesting.

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 17:01:33

i think it's foolish to marry not expecting things - and to an extent people - to change. that's why the vows are as they are! IMVHO of course wink

escape Tue 11-Sep-07 17:02:18

you can change habits , but you can't change character.
So s/he's inwardly selfish - can't do much about that, but to let the selfishness affect partners and chilfdren in practiacl ways, then no - not cceptable. ou can stop doing the 'bad' things, but you'll never be any less a selfish person.

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 17:03:45

ooh, agree with you, blu...

"how can a relationship get better (hollow laughter - talking theory here...) if no-one changes or grows or re-adjusts their priorities around joint circumstances?"

that's what a marriage (or long-term committed relationship of course) needs to do/be, i think.

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 17:04:19

but what motivation would a truly selfish person have to change their behaviour?

Blu Tue 11-Sep-07 17:09:53

I suppose you would have to find a way to harness thier selfishness and make it expedient for them to change...think of a way to get them to pull their weight whilst still putting some of thier things first.

Take me: I am very lazy and disorganised. The way to get me to pull my weight and get stuff done is not to nag me from the offset and look for regular ongoing progress - but to give me a definite deadline. I will then, at the last minute, pull of a good job. It also helps if half the job has not been done for me and I am forced to take responsibility because no-one else has.

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 17:11:42

what if there is insufficient incentive to compromise?

Blu Tue 11-Sep-07 17:19:19

I don't know.

Empathy, willingness to see it from the other person's pov...but that is always the sort of thing which comes up in over-enthusiastic accounts of american couple-counselling. Like the woman on the front of the Gaurdian 'Family' supplement this week - living apart, seeing a counsellor twice a week for a year or something.

Perhaps the 'you knew the score...' line is a sort of backward acknowledgement that what an awful lot of people do is put up with a lot. I was amazed, fro instance, byu the posters on a thread here earlier today, and how very few fathers take their children out on thier own. So many people endure a lot.

Neither DP nor I are good at 'enduring' - which should result in finding joint solutions - but more often ends in a battle.

Dinosaur Tue 11-Sep-07 17:22:33

Also I think if you feel (whether rightly or wrongly) pig-sick of the other person and their efforts to get you to change, then you are likely to dig in your heels and be bloody-minded.

Which is, I am afraid, very much how I am.

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 17:23:10

agree there are far too many martyrs about!

also agree that not putting up with stuff leads to many a row.

anyhow, we digress!

bossykate Tue 11-Sep-07 17:24:40

so, dino, would you subscribe to the view that your oh knew the score then? wink

HappyWoman Tue 11-Sep-07 17:24:53

A truely selfish person would not change, they would never see it as a problem (because they are selfish and always get what they want anyway). They would only change when their selfish behaviour had some impact on their life.

We are all taught to be selfish to some extent anyway - and if we are getting our own way it is not a problem unless someone points it out to us. If we deliberately continue to 'affect' someone else even though we know we are doing it we can then choose to change.

Being selfish by the very nature is only thinking about ones-self.

Dinosaur Tue 11-Sep-07 17:26:47

No, actually, when we first got together (over 21 years ago!) he was obsessively tidy about his own things but didn't extend it to everything else, and in fact I used to do the lion's share of the cleaning when we first lived together.

I think (as with most things) in our case there are other ishoos going on with him which I shouldn't discuss on mn.

When are we going to come to the Island for this City lunch then? Do you fancy organising? Or shall we try and get jura on the case?

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