Have you ever noticed that the more intimately you know someone, the more their quirks and habits can set you on edge? Whether it's their laissez-faire attitude towards tidiness or their knack for leaving doors ajar, those idiosyncrasies can turn into sticking points. And it's not just about the quirks; life sometimes throws unexpected curveballs our way—like a sudden job-related move or navigating health setbacks. This is the crux of human existence, intricate and unpredictable.
But your ability to be more accepting of your partner and to navigate the complexities of your relationship may just define the future course of your relationship.
It's not the quirks themselves that trigger the upheaval; it's your response that's key. Whether it's your partner’s habits or other characteristics of your relationship, this is where the art of acceptance comes into play. To be more accepting of your partner isn't about altering them; it's about adapting your approach to the cards you're dealt.
To be more accepting of your partner means to acknowledge and make peace with what you cannot change
Acceptance isn’t passive surrender. It’s a cornerstone of emotional well-being in interpersonal relationships. Acceptance is an ability not only to acknowledge circumstances, behaviors, or traits that cannot be changed, but also to find an equilibrium within those circumstances. Accepting that which cannot be changed helps you shift your focus from those futile attempts to change the unchangeable to fostering understanding and compassion.
The benefits of acceptance
When you’re faced with circumstances that are beyond your control, practicing acceptance provides you with a range of benefits. Studies show that relationship satisfaction is higher in couples who are more accepting of their idiosyncrasies. Moreover, acceptance acts as a buffer against stress and conflict, creating a basis to weather relationship challenges with greater emotional stability.
Facing your situation with acceptance also helps you foster a growth mindset: opening your mind to challenges and considering failure as the temporary and valuable feedback you need to be successful later on.
The paradox of control: Letting go to gain more control
Any relationship comes with aspects you cannot control. If you continuously try to change these factors you’ll end up frustrated and will likely put a strain on your relationship.
Try a different approach instead: Let go of your need to control things that are out of your control – this will eventually put you in control by empowering you to accept things as they are and work out ways to live with what you can’t change.
Action steps to help you exercise greater acceptance in your relationship
1. Find your common values
Reflect on the values and priorities you and your partner have in your relationship. If you are aware of the common basis you have for your relationship, it will be easier for you to accept differences. If your thought processes mostly revolve around your differences, they begin to overshadow the commonalities you have (and which are likely much larger and more meaningful than your differences or annoying habits)
2. Be mindfully aware
Be consciously aware of the thoughts and emotions you have. When you are present with your thoughts and feelings, you are in a position to recognize when thoughts and feelings arise that are not helpful to you, and you can choose to let them go.
3. Communicate openly to understand each other and find compromises
Communicate honestly and openly with your partner about what bothers you. Since you’re dealing with issues that have likely been bothersome to you for a while, this can be difficult and emotional. Take breaks if you need to, and don’t forget to ask your partner about their perspective. Your goal is to create an atmosphere of understanding in which you can work out compromises that make life easier for both of you.
4. Reset your reality
If you approach life or your relationship from an idealistic perspective, you will always fall short of your expectations and end up being disappointed. Instead, create realistic expectations that can leave you filled with gratitude and appreciation for what you have, and calm acceptance of what you don’t have.
5. Engage in self-care
When you encounter challenges or one of you makes a mistake, treat yourself (and your partner) with kindness and compassion. We all make mistakes or have trouble dealing with our partner from time to time. Having compassion with yourself and others helps you create resilience and, ultimately, acceptance for what you cannot change.
Humans are complex beings, and their relationships are just as complex. Navigating a life with another person can be hugely rewarding but also poses formidable challenges. You can pave the way for a healthy and fulfilled relationship by accepting those aspects of yourself, your partner, and your relationship that cannot be changed.
This process requires patience, self-awareness, and a deep commitment to growth, but it will ultimately help you foster deeper connections and enable you to navigate your relationship challenges with grace and flexibility.
Remember, it’s not about denying differences but about embracing them as part of the rich tapestry of love and companionship.