Acceptance is a really hard thing. It can take time to truly understand in theory and sometimes a lifetime to perfect in practice.
I’m still working on acceptance in a number of different areas in my life but most notably with my partner. I’ve written before about this when I wrote about the book “If Life Is A Game, Here Are The Rules” where I said,
I struggle with acceptance most in my relationship with my husband. Accepting that who he is right without needing change. It’s a challenging proposition to the deep down inside of me but a worthy focus for me to work on. I have to remind myself from time to time that we aren’t working against each other. I fear continuing a cycle where some part of my children will believe that a partner is sometimes an enemy.
I’ve come quite a ways since writing that post in the spring. It feels good even though I know I’ll likely be working on this to some degree for the remainder of my marriage and life. The practice of acceptance is a constant undertaking but easier when I remember that my children are learning how to be by watching and modelling my behaviour.
Assuming positive intentions is a big part of the process for me. When my partner says or does something that I might initially think is done to irk me I change my frame of mine to assume positive intent. Even if he really did say or do it to irk me, I realise that there’s more going on for him than he may not be able to even articulate in himself. As Marshall Rosenberg says “Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.” Remembering this helps me feel compassionate, especially in the heat of the moment.
This last week I learned a new lesson. To allow my husband his own feelings without comment or unsolicited discussion. In the past I’ve attempted conversation that would hopefully help him find clarity in his thoughts, but this kind of conversation is not something he enjoys and frankly, I think my motives were more selfish than I first realised. I think I hear what he says and feel like it reflects on me in some way. I try and fix it because I don’t share his thoughts and don’t want how he feels to define me, especially to others. I’m focusing more now on just trying to just hear him and offer small amounts of empathy or listen and not say anything at all.
Letting go of quietly critiquing and actively trying to change my partner has given me more time to simply be happy. Making myself happy brings more peace into our relationship. My husband doesn’t have to change, or read that great book that has offered me so much insight, or tell me he loves me more or …
I’m still planning on sharing inspiring books I’ve been reading, including a couple focused on relationships. I don’t have nearly the time I’d like to to blog about all that I wish to share!