“What’s that?” Apparently not the comment to make when your husband has just gleefully told you he’s bought two tickets to Depeche Mode. After grappling with the horror of my ignorance, he explained and I begrudgingly understood.
It was going to be UB40 all over again. Going to a concert I wasn’t interested in. And keeping quiet about it so as not to offend… keeping schtum…for my husband. But the brain is not fixed. As that well used hypnotherapy saying goes ‘it’s made of plastic not porcelain’.
Pleasing my husband…inadvertently
I was given the Depeche Mode ‘101’ cd and advised to played it everywhere I drove. “You’ll enjoy the concert more. You’ll recognise the songs when we’re at the concert” He said. We always do this before a concert. We didn’t before Amy Winehouse (way back in the early days) & regretted it. So now we do it every time. And guess what? I began to like Depeche Mode. I even recognised one of the songs! Then came the concert. Gazing at that ageing, gyrating, rocker of a front man I began to love Depeche Mode (and that front man). And the cd? That stayed with me.
So what happened? My brain changed. Did I change for my husband? No. Have I ever changed for my husband? Apart from giving up my TV soap operas (and saving myself 7.5 hours a week), I don’t think so. But I have changed? Definitely.
When I met my husband I was a smoker. He was quick to tell me he despised smoking and he kept telling me…but that kept me smoking. My logic was decidedly illogical. If I gave up he might think his protestations had worked and that might lead to more? A couple of years rolled by. My husband gave up the unfruitful protestations. So I gave up smoking. Instantly. And three months later…he noticed.
When I met my husband I was a korma eating, instant coffee loving, white wine drinking, smoker who had no interest in Star Wars, Top Gear or Grand Designs. But the other day I stopped myself as I poured Chan Cham’s Zingy Chilli Sauce all over my cheese on toast. I haven’t changed for my husband but I have definitely changed.
When you are exposed to things again and again its impossible not to become accustomed to them. Whether its an unhelpful pattern of negative thinking that locks you into low confidence, fear or anxiety or in my case, the drip drip drip effect of constant exposure to fiery chilli, strong coffee and what I then regarded as dire tv.
“Only a little bit of chilli” my husband would say as my tastebuds recoiled at the spicy dish he had just lovingly placed in front of me. And that’s what he always said as over the years he increased the chilli content in everything he cooked. He even had the cheek to meddle with my cooking, until…korma lover no more…I thought nothing of ordering a vindaloo and complaining that it wasn’t spicy enough. But why? Apart from the exposure, there were chemicals at play. Oxytocin as we laughed & joked, my husband teasing me mercilessly. Dopamine as I proved in my own stubborn way that I CAN eat your spicy food and I CAN hide the fact that my face is about to explode. Serotonin as I my husband congratulated me on my new, impressive liking for the ultra hot Scotch Bonnet and endorphins as I coped with the pain.
The same thing happened with coffee. He’d insist on making me ‘proper’ strong coffees. Yes he’d water them down for me but they were always a touch strong and over the years…they got stronger. Now? I can obliterate a good strong coffee and I can make the coffee too. I even have a coffee loving bunch of followers on Instagram!
But it’s not just about the chemicals and the production of new neurological pathways. Sometimes it’s about being open minded & admitting something you simply hadn’t known. At some point whilst (barely) watching Top Gear, I noticed it was funny. Who knew? Sure, I couldn’t care less about the cars, but that show is just too silly not to enjoy. Stars Wars quickly went the same way. And before I knew it the whole family became involved. The kids brains changed too as their apathy became a frenzy of excitement as their Dad whispered….”Guess what we’ve got mummy for her birthday?…ROGUE ONE!”
And Grand Designs? That took a while. Sure I knew my DIY. A childhood spent traipsing after my Father in B&Q ensured that. But there was no interest. Until my husband started working on our house. That gave it meaning and it made sense. My enthusiasm for the trade shows even grew. After all, they do provide great coffee.
So have I changed to please my husband?
No. But I have changed. I have evolved within my environment, because ours brain can change. It’s a primitive survival thing we naturally do… Especially if we are willing and open to change. It doesn’t matter if you’re changing ketchup for the Chan Cham you’ve done an 80 mile round trip to buy, instant coffee for the real deal, anxiety for calm, insecurity for confidence or insomnia for peace. Our brains can and do evolve. We build new neurological pathways, break old ones down. And we grow. Especially when we’re chasing those feel good hormones like Oxytocin, Dopamine & Serotonin. So if you are open to change it will happen. It might take you years or with hypnotherapy it could take a few weeks, but if you want it, you will achieve it.
Has my husband changed to please me?
No. Has he changed? Put it this way…I married a man who didn’t want children!