7 Ways to Accept Your Spouse Just As They Are In order to have a successful marriage you must learn to live together as one… even if your spouse doesn’t meet your "crazy" expectations. BY SHERRIE CAMPBELL, PH.D.
Stop trying to change your spouse, rather embrace them for who they are.
“ Stop labeling your way as right and remember it is only right for you. What is right for you may not be right for your partner.”
One of the biggest downfalls of marriage is the idea that our partner needs to be different or at least they need to change certain things to make us happier. After all, if they really loved us, they would change anything for us right? Well, no. Wanting your spouse to change is like asking a cat to bark. The glue to any successful marriage would be to accept your husband or wife as he/she is.
Here are seven steps to acceptance:
1. Watch your expectations. When you start to get frustrated with your spouse 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 need is unfulfilled for yourself? Ask yourself why it is your partner’s job to always live according to your expectations.
2. Look for the positive. Negative thinking is much easier than positive thinking because it requires no effort. It is also very self-centered. When we are not accepting our spouse it is the result of seeing the negative in them. Instead of focusing on why someone is the way they are choose to focus on what is great about them. Whatever is not great about them for you, you will need to learn to fulfill within yourself.
3. Eliminate black and white thinking. Flexibility is the key ingredient to any lasting relationship. It is very easy to view the world in black and white with a right and wrong way to do things, but that's just not how it is. Things don't have to be right or wrong if you choose to accept them as they are. Stop labeling your way as right and remember it is only right for you. What is 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 will likely stop putting pressure on others as well. Not judging ourselves is a crucial step to the acceptance of ourselves and our partner.
5. Stay focused on the present. A lack of acceptance can generate from comparing things to the past. We all make mistakes so try not to ruminate about what happened before and try to live accordingly. Give your spouse the gift of thinking about the now. Comparing things to the past always hinders an acceptance of what is and it destroys marriages.
6. See things in reverse. Ask yourself how it would feel if your husband or wife were judging you and not accepting you? How would you feel? So when your expectations are not being met, keep these questions in mind.
7. Focus on yourself first. If you are a happy and fulfilled as an individual you will be less critical of your spouse because you will see your needs as needs you are 100 percent capable of meeting. This takes a lot of pressure off of the marriage. It’s about personal responsibility for self-love. If you love yourself and are responsible for your happiness you get to love your partner simply for being your partner instead of seeing your spouse as your "need-meeter."
The marriages out there that are happy and that make it are marriages where there are two individually happy and content people coming together. They do not see their union and "completing" them as much as they have a marriage that "adds" to their already fabulous individual life. We are each here to learn to be responsible for our sense of happy. When you bring this into a marriage it increases the happy and flexibility of 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.
Dr. Sherrie Campbell is the author of "Loving Yourself" and a licensed psychologist with more than 19 years of clinical training and experience. She provides practical tools to help people overcome obstacles to self-love and truly achieve an empowered life. She is a featured regularly on national online media and has a successful practice in Southern California. Click to get a free article on "Five Ways to Make Love the Common Ground in Your Communication." Receive free insights from Sherrie through her Facebook community. She is a featured expert on a variety of national websites and has a successful practice in Southern California. For more information visit www.sherriecampbellphd.com.