I learned my lesson in my marriage to change you first. My ex-husband had issues and I tried to change him. I was always trying to change myself and grow from my mistakes. I read a lot of self-help books, but I would try to diagnose him myself and tell him what he needs to change and where he needs to grow, but he wasn't interested in changing so I finally learned that you can only change yourself. So, this is what I've learned.
It's hard on a marriage or relationship when one person is the only one doing the growing and changing. Your up here and he's down here. That's not saying I'm above him or better than he is. He just wasn't ready to see and change what he could. We all need to be reading or searching self-improvement to change ourselves, look at ourselves and better love ourselves so that we can be better for those in our lives. If we want to influence change in our spouse we must first begin to change our own negative patterns which may contribute to the relationship problems.
I know the issues I had and was never ashamed to admit them. I know I'm not perfect and I wasn't a perfect Wife or Mother. I didn't really have a good role model growing up, so I learned through books and wisdom from other married woman. Try not to complain or nag about the issues that need to be dealt with. Try to set a time to sit and discuss it seriously and make it clear that you are willing to love yourself enough to leave the relationship if these issues cannot be worked out.
Try not to interrupt or correct when your partner speaks. Each person has the right to their own perception. We cannot truly know another person’s perception if we are too busy defending our own and needing to have the last word. I have that issue. It's hard to break habits so it takes patience and practice. The definition of defensive is being closed to new information. Connection and understanding can only come from listening. When we truly listen we will better know where we can be more flexible and where we need to hold our limits. I was very defensive because I hated to be wrong. I wanted to be that perfect spouse and hated that I had flaws. I still do, but I've learned and am still learning.
Don't start the conversation out of a negative place, start by expressing how you want things to be. When we are clear about what we want this keeps things moving forward into a new solution and a new direction. There is nothing more off putting than constantly hearing how unhappy someone is. It is much better to hear what someone wants.
Maintain the privacy and confidentiality of what your partner shares with you and refrain from sharing all your issues with friends and family. When nothing is private it allows other people’s opinions to effect and damage our own perception of our relationships and it can serve to make others not like your partner.