Women often approach their new husbands like buying a house. They buy a property “as is” knowing that it is a “fixer” that could be a good investment with a little TLC. But obviously, a man is not a house, a piece of property nor an investment. And that is why so many wives end up frustrated and disappointed while their mates wonder what happened to their once enthusiastic buyer. In the initial stages, it’s all about potential value. After the contract is signed, the focus falls upon the flaws that need to be fixed.
When it comes to making marriage relationships work, there is only one basic truth, what I call the Holy Grail of Marriage, which stands above all the other marriage precepts and adages. It’s the final and highest stage one can reach in any relationship: Acceptance.
Acceptance versus tolerance
Acceptance is often misunderstood. Acceptance is not the same as mere tolerance. Tolerance implies some level of resistance. A “putting up with” what you do not like. Tolerance calls for self-restraint when you’re exposed to what you do not like. When you must exercise tolerance for an extended period of time, dissatisfaction builds up. That is why everyone has a tolerance level that can be breached. If you’ve ever said, “I’ve had it!” you’ve been exercising only tolerance not acceptance.
If you truly accept someone “as is” then there will be no irritation, resentment, angst or long-suffering when faced with someone else’s faults. No disappointment, no hurt, no expectations. Just acceptance of what is. You aren’t tied emotionally to any outcomes. You love and appreciate the other person with all his or her shortcomings. After all, we are allowed to be human. And we want other people—especially our spouse—to love and accept us as we are, without criticizing or picking at our humanness.
That is the key to being able to release your resistance to another person’s flaws: Realizing that you have your own that are equally as irritating to others. We often don’t realize our own flaws or we downgrade them. We don’t recognize that we often cause others to have to tolerate us! But even if we are perfect, we don’t have the right to correct others. Everyone has the right to live as he chooses, even if that means some of those choices will result in a difficult life journey.
Acceptance is a gift of unconditional love
Accepting others, without trying to change them is a double gift. You give the other person the gift of your love without any strings attached. But you release yourself from the pressure of manipulating another human being, which is not your right to begin with. There is freedom and peace in learning to accept people for who they are. Many husbands and wives stubbornly hold onto “principles” that they say are important to them, principles that prompt them to pressure their mates into “better” behaviors. Those principles might be based on religious principles or life philosophies, but there is a higher—even the highest—principle that transcends all principles: unconditional love.
Until you’ve experienced unconditional love, until you’re able to offer unconditional love in your marriage, no other principle really matters. No other principle will improve the quality of your life and your relationships as completely as the principle of unconditional love. It might seem like a difficult principle to follow, but it really is quite simple. Let nothing else matter except for loving your mate unconditionally. Then, watch the magic unfold because unconditional love has a way to sparking hope in others and inspires the best in them to blossom.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
“Peace of mind comes from not wanting to change others.” Gerald Jampolsky
“First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
“People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.” Peter Scholtes