You glare at the Toad-on-The-Couch your man has become. You’ve been subtle – “suggested” and hinted and sighed loudly - only to progress to complaining, nagging, fuming and yelling when subtlety doesn’t shove him off the couch and into doing what needs doing. Not that your complaining-nagging-fuming-yelling works all that well either.

What, oh what, ever happened to the guy who used to pitch in willingly with whatever tasks were at hand, that Prince of a guy who couldn’t wait to get home to you, who’d have meaningful conversations with you, and was eager to participate in every aspect of your life?

You sigh. He’s been toaded. Yuck. You pick up the latest relationship book hot off the press, “Your Man Is Wonderful,” and can’t resist guffawing, “Yeah, right” at the title. Nonetheless, you plunk yourself down and start reading. You’ve barely made through Chapter 2 when you want to throw the book out the window, cry, or throw up. Maybe all three. Because - here it comes – guess who’s supposed to do the work of revitalizing the relationship? Guess who the load falls on – again? You!

“Why does it always have to be me?!” you exclaim, "Why is it always the woman who has to make nice, make the changes, do the work? Why can’t HE get his butt in gear and do it?”

Because you’re the one who wants the change. He’s not the one fussing and complaining, he’s perfectly content with things as they are. So yes, you’re the one who gets to do what it takes for change to occur. Notice I say “gets to,” not “has to.” Because doing what it takes is an honor, a privilege! It is an opportunity to exercise your personal power. And that is a blessed and wonderful thing.

I know you don’t like this approach. I know you resent “having to be the one to do all the work.” But you see, trying to make him change hasn’t been successful. For all the criticizing, nagging, prodding and anger you've displayed, your Toad has sat square on his couch, more resentful than cooperative. Oh, sure, once in a while he budges to do what you ask - mostly to get you to quit nagging. But there’s no sustained effort because who likes to be nagged into anything?

Now if your guy were the one wanting the change, I’d be saying to him: “You want it, go get it!” I’d be telling him not to wait on you to magically transform yourself, but for HIM to do what it takes. So this isn’t a male-female thing. It’s a whoever-wants-things-to-be-different-gets-to-take-the-initiative thing.

Science is now proving in a variety of realms what philosophers and spiritual leaders have long known - that like energy attracts like. In other words, when you expect the best, and act according to that expectation, you're more likely to get it. For example, optimistic people tend to attract better health, longer life and more enjoyable life experiences. Companies with "Best Places to Work" status have employees who are more productive, motivated and present. Lab research shows that couples who appreciate rather than criticize, understand rather than blame, have happier relationships.

You have the power! When you shift your focus to appreciating your man rather than picking at his flaws, express your gratitude rather than taking him for granted, and seek to understand his different ways rather than attacking him for them, good things happen. Think of it as priming the pump, which, as long as there is still love between you, encourages him to become, once again, that Prince he was during your courtship and honeymoon phase. He retreats less and less to his Toad-on-The-Couch behavior. He responds to your change.

When you feel you shouldn’t be the one to make the change, you abdicate your power. You place yourself in the weak and vulnerable position of having to wait for someone else to make a change before you can enjoy the benefits of the change you seek. Which means you may be in for a veeeery long wait. Whereas, when you are proactive, when you have the courage to step up and do what it takes to make change happen – why then, change does happen, and YOU are the one who reaps the benefits.

So quit complaining about being the one who has to make the change, and recognize how powerful you are when you take the initiative and make those changes! You get results. That’s success. That feels good.

Today, make the commitment to have that blissful relationship you’ve always longed for. Recognize how powerful you are, what a joy it is to use that power in the service of your relationship, and go for it. You’ll be all smiles.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a respected psychologist, consultant, speaker and author. Her latest book is "Men Are Wonderful--And Yours Can Be Too," Free Press, 2009). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives through appreciation--at work, at home and in relationships. E-mail:, website: