Marriage 101: Accepting your spouse
It is a truism in love—opposites attract! Why? I have no idea! But I do know that it’s true.
My wife is a talker and I am a listener. She is naturally neat and (sigh..) I am naturally not. She is very thorough about everything she does, and I make careless mistakes.
A talkative person seeks a quiet mate. A spontaneous adult is attracted to a planner. A messy person likes a neatnik. A person that does everything “now” finds a procrastinator. This list goes on.
During the initial stages of romance, most adults may not be aware of these contrasts. We focus on what we have in common—hobbies, books we have both read, shared values, movies we like, or activities that we enjoy together. It may seem like our partner is a “carbon copy” of ourselves in the important ways.
But, alas, love is blind.
It is in living together that we experience how different we really are from each other. Then we spend the next 20 years trying to get our partner to be just like us! The problem–no one wants to be “changed”.
My wife is absentminded and I am not. I spent the first 20 years of our marriage trying to “teach” her how to keep her keys in the same spot, or leave her purse in one place. She tried to help me remember to put things back after I took them out. I encouraged her to spend less time doing some things and she worked on my spending too little time doing the same things.
So what do you think happens when your husband or wife tries to rehabilitate you? Watch out for the sparks and lightning bolts!
What is the secret for marital bliss (aside from keeping unsolicited advice to yourself!)?
Accept your partner for who they are!
I know that this is a revolutionary idea, but within this suggestion lays the seeds of peace and harmony. You didn’t marry a clone of yourself! And if you did, you might be divorced already! You are the very last person who is going to change your husband or wife. If they want to change something about themselves, it must come from them. The best thing you can do is to get out of the way.
Does this mean you have to like everything about your partner? Of course not. Does this mean that sometimes she drives you crazy? Absolutely. Does this mean that you can’t pray for change? Of course you can!
But real happiness comes from complete acceptance. It comes from the recognition that you didn’t marry a clone of yourself and the “bad” (or what you don’t like) comes with the “good” (what you do like). You married a total package, and it is not in your power to change that package. Your husband or wife is not like a lump of clay that you can shape and mold. What you see is what you get.
It can take a long time to let go. Your love wants to please you, but it is not easy to change yourself. Acceptance promotes harmony, and this can nurture connection and the desire to meet your partner half-way.
More in marriage basics to come!
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