Wanting aspects about your partner to be different is a common complaint. Wanting things about your partner to change and trying to make them change however are two different things. Wanting change, speaks of having a difference of opinions on how things should be. Trying to change a person speaks to perhaps a lack of respect for your partner. Trying to change someone assumes that “they really don’t know what is best, so let me ‘show’ them the ‘right’ way things should be done”, and when you are the person trying to be changed, it can be a very disempowering place to be in the relationship.
When people make statements like ‘training’ their partner I mean that doesn’t sound any better than an owner ‘training’ their dog; it sounds very degrading and disrespectful, and could easily lead to a pattern of controlling, and manipulation in a relationship. Why choose to be with someone you can’t accept completely (faults, and differences included). Committing to join lives with another person is really a challenging task when you’re stuck at a cross roads of different beliefs, views, convictions etc. It is important to recognize that the only person who you truly have control over is yourself, and getting into a position where you are trying to ‘change’ your spouse (regardless of how gently you may try) you are sending the message that your feelings, beliefs, convictions etc. are more important than theirs.
I encourage couples to express how they are feeling in the relationship if things aren’t going the way they would like it to go, i.e. ‘I feel concerned for your health due to your choice of life style’, and then you can make your request known, i.e. ‘I’d feel less concern if you took better care of your health’. Your partner is more likely to be inclined to hear your request if they sense that you respect their ability to make good choices.