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Hello Dr. Matt,
I would like to know if people can really change?
I was widowed (28 years of marriage) and when I finally started to date I met a woman ( I am 45, she is 39) that I fell deeply in love with and we were married after 3 months. This is almost exactly the same scenario as with my first wife. My only condition was that I could not move because of my work (we lived 50 miles apart and my job was 30 miles the other way).
The week before the wedding she wanted me to pay off an $11,000.00 debt and she would add me to her mutual funds as collateral. When I balked I got the no trust speech. Since we were to be married and sharing debts I went ahead and paid it. 2 days after the wedding she said she couldn't move because her daughter decided she didn't want to stay with her grandmother to finish the school year out. This was the agreement before hand. Needless to say this caused a big rift in the marriage. Also at this time, she accessed my checking account (her name wasn't on it) to pay off $1200 in bills.
To make a long story short, over the next 6 weeks I found out that most of what she had told me was lies. There were no mutual funds, her family and friends didn't even know she was married. She had been living her life the same as when she was single and everyone thought I was just her boyfriend.
When I found this out I let her family know the truth and still wanted to work it out. Still more lies came and I filed for divorce. She wanted to work it out and stop the divorce, I agreed and set up 3 appointments with a marriage counselor. She blew off all of these and still I tried. After one last final lie about listing her house and moving I let the divorce go through.
Again, my big question is can someone like this really change?
She has contacted me again about starting over. She says she has been in counseling with her priest and realized that everything she did was wrong. She says she understands the reasons for doing the stuff she did which was fear of leaving the known for the unknown. She says the shock of me really divorcing her made her realize her problems and that is why she went to the priest for help.
Should I ignore my feelings for this woman and stay away from her? My family doesn't know that I am thinking of starting to see her again. They would be very much against the idea as they hate her for what she put me through before. This whole situation is tearing me up inside. My heart says take her back now but my head says watch your back. Thank you for any insight that may be provided.
Yes, people really can change--but better said, people can be "changed." The power is not within human beings to cause a core change via mental will power; instead, the core change happens with Heaven' Help (2 Cor. 5: 17). How people can experience this profound Change is detailed in my book Changing Your Stripes (the title of which is a reference to the unlikely occurrence of a Tiger changing her stripes).
With mental will power, people can change their outward behavior—their physical skills and verbal scripts—but cannot change the core of their character. Only our Creator possesses the power to change hearts. Even though people can be "changed" in a fundamental way--changed from the heart (Ezek 36: 26)--most people do not take advantage of this miracle (Matt. 7: 14).
I recomment that you go with your "head" conclusion for now. If she's going to change (or better, be "changed"), just keep your eyes wide open and see if she follows through. Let her do her changing while she's NOT living with you. Chances are, . . . she will NOT follow through with her words. Her habit of Lying is not likely to go away, unless she experiences a profound spiritual epiphany.
Indeed, her world has been shaken by the fact that you divorced her, and so, she is temporarily motivated to do what she's doing . . . for now. The promises that you hear from her right now, are most likely manipulations to get you to do, what she wants you to do! So, wait and see if there is any "follow through" . . . over time, and then, go from there.
Again, she is temporarily motivated to alter her outward behavior, to manipulate you towards what she wants—just as she has done in the past. Old habits die hard!
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
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