A local radio station recently asked listeners to call in and report the: “One thing that you would change about your mate so that you can love him or her more fully.”
This is not the first poll to pose a question like this and probably will not be the last to do so. We’re wondering what effects focusing on what you don’t like or what you would change in your mate have on a love relationship?
Will pondering such a question and perhaps creating that partner “wish list” help you and the one you love move closer together?
We doubt it.
We expect that the list of responses to this radio poll probably included the following: desires that the partner earn more money, would help more with home or childcare, would stop nagging or criticizing, would be more romantic, would be more sexual and perhaps even would be more attractive.
It’s true. We all have preferences, pet peeves, and desires. There’s nothing wrong with any of that.
But it’s also true that none of us—including ourselves– are perfect. Let’s clarify that: We are all perfectly imperfect.
When you can accept yourself and your love for who you each are, the doors to a closer, more connected relationship can open.
When you can answer a question such as that posed by the radio station in our area truly and honestly that you “wouldn’t change a thing” about your mate, then you are on to something wonderful.
It is possible to be true to yourself and honor your mate as he or she is?
Does this mean that you have to bite your tongue and put up with anything in your relationship– even if it incessantly bugs you or even violates your deeply held beliefs?
Not at all! We believe that it is possible to stay true to who you are and how you feel while at the same time allowing your partner to be true to who he or she is.
It’s not always easy or comfortable– but it is possible and preferable.
Let’s face it. We’ve probably all been in situations where something is irritating or even offensive to us and the more we try to overlook it, the larger that irritation or offense seems to become.
If you’ve ever had a leaky faucet and you try to ignore the drip, drip, dripping sound while trying to read a book in an otherwise quiet house, you know how tricky it can be.
The same thing tends to happen with those undesirable traits or habits of the one you love.
Chances are, if it’s something that’s bothersome to you, the more you try to pretend it isn’t there, the more you probably notice it.
The trouble with the leaky faucet is that it can end up seeming like there are no other sounds in the house except for that infuriating dripping.
Your reading time is ruined and you may even feel helpless to make that faucet stop leaking. Your partner’s tendency to always be late may also irritate and infuriate you. In your view, tardiness is not only inconvenient, it is downright disrespectful.
You might even have trouble remembering a time when your mate was on time for a date or an event. And it may even feel like your love doesn’t value you or your agreements when he or she is consistently late for dinner or whatever the case may be.
Make a conscious shift.
If it would be easy for you to mentally list off things that you’d like to change about your mate so that you can love him or her more fully, take a moment and see if you can make a conscious shift.
Acknowledging what you are feeling and the dynamic that’s going on between the two of you is a healthy start. But then shifting your attention to what you appreciate in this same person and within this same dynamic can be quite helpful.
In the example of the tardy partner above, when you find yourself feeling irritable because your love is late– yet again– for your dinner date, stop and see if you can shift your thoughts.
Perhaps you could find within yourself appreciation that the two of you have set aside this time to be together. Yes, there is a delay in those plans, but you feel confident that the date will happen.
Remind yourself how much fun you have with your mate and see if you can expand your focus to include those positive expectations.
Be clear about what you want and then appreciate movement toward those desires.
You can certainly make requests of your partner that address the habits and tendencies that you’d like to change.
The important point here, however, is that you make it your intention to speak what’s true for you, to listen to what’s true for your partner and then make agreements you both feel good about and can follow through on.
If, in order to please or placate you, your partner makes an agreement with you that he or she will never be late for a date again, you are probably destined to further disappointment!
Don’t ask your partner to change anything for you or in order to keep your love. If being more timely is a goal for your mate, then, by all means, support him or her in achieving that.
But if timeliness is not a priority for your mate, you can ask him or her to agree to call you so that you know how late he or she will be. This request for communication does not force your partner to change but does honor your need for information and assists in your own planning.
When you and your love follow through on your consciously made agreements, be sure to notice any movement toward what you want. Celebrate those seemingly small achievements.
Believe it or not, they can add up to a whole lot of connection. You may never get to a point where you can truly say you “wouldn’t change a thing” about your partner. But as you shift your focus and stay clear about what you want– appreciating as you go along– the results are bound to be deeper love!
You’ll find more tips about how to create easier communication and deeper intimacy at http://www.StopTalkingonEggshells.com