Upon a serendipitous rendezvous with an acquaintance at one of my favourite Brisbane coffee haunts, we stumbled effortlessly (as always) onto the topic of relationships, well marriage actually.
Over my double piccolo, I discovered that he had been married for 13 years! I was taken aback, considering I thought he was younger than I was (damn men and their baby faces!). Having married young at the age of 20, I asked him what his key to a successful marriage was…
His reply: A C C E P T A N C E.
He explained that typically people may enter into a relationship thinking they can change the person, make them better, improve them, polish them up, help them etc. Admitting that he was in no way, shape or form perfect, he clarified that holding this mentality only lasted a few years until he realised no one in the relationship was doing any changing. So he accepted her as she was, and she accepted him as he was.
Delving a little deeper into the conversation, he explained that he accepted that she is a work-a-holic, and she accepted that he is a flirt. They had communicated to each other that they were both willing to accept these indifferences to make the marriage work, because neither of them were willing to change, and both felt a sense of significance engaging in these things. Fair enough.
I respected that they had come to a mutual agreement that ‘this is me, take it or leave it’ in order to keep the marriage alive. And I appreciated they had arrived at the conclusion that neither her working crazy hours and putting work first or him engaging in some innocent flirting here and there were deal breakers.
However, I pondered a bit more…
Is it acceptance…or is it tolerance? There is a big difference. Respectively, one is a willingness, consensual decision, the other is to endure (begrudgingly) regardless of whether they agree or disagree.
I believe acceptance certainly is key is a lasting relationship, however there is a lot of communication and ground work you need to do before you go accepting their bad habits or unacceptable behavior…and it all comes down to values. Whatever situation you’re in, you don’t want to budge on your values. These are what you stand for! And if you don’t stand for anything you fall for everything. It’s about assessing your own values, communicating them to your partner and landing on some mutual ground around what you are willing to accept and not accept in a partnership.
Remember that if you are tolerating patterns or habits that are running against the grain of your values and morals (i.e. abuse, cheating, drug use, disrespect, lying etc.) it’s time to take stock and look at your relationship from a bigger picture. Look at why you are lowering your standards or disregarding your values to save the relationship. Is it because you love them to death and would rather go without something (your own values) than lose them? If this is the case, then maybe you need to look at your self-love levels and see if they need some topping up?
As for the couple I discussed above, it was apparent that they both felt that her working a few extra hours and him engaging in some meaningless flirting was acceptable and worth tolerating to keep the marriage trekking along. They communicated & came to that arrangement, agreeing to make it work, as neither of them were willing to change, nor end the relationship…as they loved each other!
Ask yourself and your partner:
Is there something that your partner does that really bothers you?
Have you communicated it to them?
What are you willing to accept?
What are you willing to tolerate?
What are your deal breakers?
Are you lowering your standards or are you both meeting half way?
And if you would like a free 15 minute strategic coaching consultation to chat about your relationship situation please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange.