There are two different kinds of acceptance, and both are important in a romantic relationship. (They will also serve you well in other areas of your life).
The first kind of acceptance is understanding and taking things for what they are: appreciating situations for surface value. An example of this could mean accepting that your partner tends to run 15 minutes late. By accepting this as a fundamental aspect of who your partner is, you’ll find yourself feeling less frustrated by him or her being late when it happens.
Accepting our partners for who they are can make all the difference when it comes to resolving issues and solving problems. Perhaps your mate is the type who needs to think for a little while before he or she makes a decision. By accepting this fact, you will avoid endless hours of frustration waiting for your loved one to make up his or her mind. You understand that you just need to give your mate a little space to process the thoughts and feelings.
Accepting the way things are in your relationship is not the same as giving up your desire to make things better. Depending on the reasons why, and how the changes manifest, perhaps the most positive way to deal with difficult issues is to develop the habit of acceptance.
Acceptance is a tool that can help in almost any situation.
The other type of acceptance is the kind that catalyzes change. It has been said that acceptance is the answer to all of our problems. By accepting where we are, we have a starting place to make changes, an understanding of who we (as well as our partners) are and a sense of where we truly want to be. Sometimes making a list of what is going on for you and how you would like it to change can be very helpful, and even more so if your partner does the same exercise. And it’s so simple.
When you see or experience something in your relationship that doesn’t work for you, you should accept the fact that you need to make some adjustments. Even if the situation you are currently in is undesirable, accepting it is the first step toward changing it. Until you are ready to admit that you need to make some changes, you won’t.
If you and your partner agree that you are not making as much money as you’d like, you may have to accept this as something that you cannot change, at least not overnight. But through first recognizing this, you then may be able to work as a team to identify some areas where you can cut back on your spending. This approach can be applied to a variety of similar situations.
Remember that acceptance is different from giving up. When our partners feel that we are letting things go, they will begin to do the same or perhaps withdraw, and neither works. Discuss what’s the best thing for both of you, and put some energy into your next steps as a couple.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. He practices in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles and is available for video sessions. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.