One of the biggest downfalls of getting married is the idea that our partner needs to be different and change certain things to make us happier. After all, if they really loved us, wouldn’t they change anything for us? Well, no. Asking your partner to change is like asking a cat to bark. The glue to any successful marriage is to accept your partner as he or she is, including his idiosyncrasies.
Here are seven ways you can be more accepting of your spouse:
1. Watch your expectations. When you become frustrated with your partner, check-in with your thoughts. Is this something that your partner really needs to change for you, or can you change your expectation and meet whatever unfulfilled need yourself? Why is it your partner’s job to live according to your expectations?
2. Use positive thinking. Negative thinking is much easier than positive thinking because it requires no effort. It’s also very self-centered. When we aren’t accepting our partner, it’s the result of seeing the negative in them. Instead of focusing on why someone is the way he is, choose to focus on what’s great about him. Whatever you don’t like about him, you’ll need to learn to fulfill within yourself.
3. Eliminate black and white thinking. Flexibility is the key ingredient to any lasting relationship. It’s very easy to view the world in black and white with a right and wrong way to do things, but that’s just not realistic. Things don’t have to be right or wrong if you choose to accept them as they are. Stop labeling your way as right way and remember it’s only right for you. What’s right for you may not be right for your partner.
4. Turn off your inner critic. Our judgments of others are often a result of our personal criticisms. If we stop putting pressure on ourselves to do things the right way, we’ll likely stop putting pressure on others as well. Not judging ourselves is a crucial step to the acceptance of our partner and ourselves.
5. Stay focused on the present. When we compare situations to the past, we tend to be less accepting. We all make mistakes, so try not to ruminate about what happened before and live accordingly. Give your partner the gift of thinking about the present. Comparing things to the past always hinders an acceptance of the current reality and it destroys marriages.
6. See things in reverse. Ask yourself how it would feel if your partner judged you and didn’t accept you? How would you feel? When your expectations aren’t being met, keep these questions in mind.
7. Focus on yourself first. When you’re happy and fulfilled as an individual, you’ll be less critical of your partner. You are 100% capable of meeting your own needs. This takes a lot of pressure off the marriage. It boils down to personal responsibility for self-love. If you love yourself and are responsible for your own happiness, you’re able to love your partner simply for being your partner instead of seeing your partner as a need-meeter.
Happy marriages are ones in which there are two individually happy and content people coming together. They don’t see their union as something they need in order to feel complete as much as they have a marriage that adds to their already fabulous individual life. Each of us needs to be responsible for our own sense of happiness. Two happy people bring into a marriage increased happiness and flexibility in the collective relationship.
Little life message: Happy marriages exist between people who do not tug on each other with expectation. Love yourself, take responsibility for yourself, and your marriage will be expansive.