When I first married I was not conscious of trying to change my new wife into my ideal, though that’s exactly what I was doing. It was selfish of me…” (Excerpt from comment Ray left on 3/20/2010)
Ray isn't alone. When we first marry we're usually under the influence of our biological programming known as "being in love." In this condition all we can see is that our partner is our ideal.
It's only natural that both new husbands and new wives try to keep their new spouses matching the pictures they carry of each other in their respective minds. Of course none of us is as wonderful as our new spouse thinks we are.
Unless we're exceptionally mature when we marry, we will keep trying to make reality match our wonderful fantasy. I think that's what you mean by not being conscious of what you doing.
The really big challenge is the one that Ray has successfully mastered. His comment continues, " I have since changed my ways, and now enjoy a happy relationship with my wife."
The challenge is creating a happy relationship once the blinders come off and we see begin to see each other as the flawed human beings we really are. That takes both kindness and resourcefulness — and for many couples — outside help.
The normal cycle of relationships seems to include
First idealizing each other,
Then falling into a co-dependent pattern in which we each try very hard to please the other.
Next one or both of us get tired of trying so hard to be who we're not and we struggle for power to prove which one is right (That's where we often divorce or seek counseling.)
If and when we get through the power struggle we discover that we're two separate people
Finally we create a mature, loving relationship where we see and accept each other as we really are instead of as fantasy we married.
I've described this process in much more detail in my e-book, Being Happy Together: How to Create a Fabulous Relationship With Your Life Partner in Less Than an Hour a Week https://www.BeingHappyBook.com
The program in that e-book contains over 200 suggestions for activities to help you and your partner mature, loving relationship you desire and deserve.