So worth the effort!
Marriage and change go hand-in-hand.
It's no wonder that traditional marital vows are literally all about how spouses need to support and accept one another, no matter what circumstances come their way.
Even if you don't change your last name or where you live, getting married is a major change!
And life changes, no matter how positive or welcome, still can rock your self-esteem and sense of confidence.
You may also start to notice things in your partner that you never had before.
As you continue to solidify and form a new identity with the one you love, hyper-critical thinking can set in. And that's where strain really takes hold of an otherwise happy, healthy marriage.
Believe it or not, all marriages, no matter how strong, or deeply connected, will experience strain when change happens.
THIS is why couples benefit so much when they introduce the concept of Radical Acceptance into their relationship.
If you're unfamiliar with the concept, you can get a great introduction to it in Andrea Miller's new book, Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love. It offers a relatable, actionable five-step plan to help couples realize the long-term benefits to introducing more empathy and compassion into their marriage.
It's both a selfless and a selfish act, because the act of empathizing with your spouse ends up making it a lot easier to empathize with yourself too.
And the individuals who learn how to radically accept their spouse and grow together despite it all — they end up having longer, happier marriages.
On top of that, our YourTango Experts have some serious insights on how accepting your spouse can lead to a more fulfilling marriage.
Here are 11 ideas for how you can introduce radical acceptance into your relationship. It will be SO worth it.
1. The more you love yourself, the stronger your marriage will be.
“Unconditional love needs to be given ‘first to yourself’ before you can give it to your partner.
Self-love in a successful marriage is not a luxury, but a necessity. Loving yourself without judgment or condition is the cornerstone from which you build any serious long lasting, loving connection and relationship with someone else, certainly your partner in life.”
Danielle Sax is a coach, mentor, speaker and author who loves and lives her purpose and walks the talk. To discover more simple-but-powerful steps to activate conscious self-care and self-love and set healthy boundaries for yourself, visit Danielle’s website.
2. Understanding yourself can help you be more empathetic towards your spouse.
“Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are, and as we know even trying to change small things about ourselves is a huge challenge, so then why would one think that they can change something about their spouse?
Accepting the person you married is truly about not trying to change them. If you don’t like a behavior the only way to impact that is to change your response to that behavior because that will be a lot easier than thinking that you can change them.
Example: He never picks up his clothing, and I am left doing that, I have asked him so many times and he just won’t do it. Instead, you can try a different approach or a new response, but the same response over and over gets the same results over and over...
Accepting a person for who they are can also set you free because you then realize that you don’t have any control over them, just choices that you make about being with them.”
Dr. Dawn Michael is a certified clinical sexologist and relationship expert with a private practice in Thousand Oaks CA. She has been working with couples for 19 years. In addition to her practice she is an author, public speaker, and sex educator. You can find her at www.thehappyspouse.com as well as her YouTube channel.
3. Accept that people communicate love in different ways.
“To outrageously improve your marriage, accept and appreciate out loud that your partner shows his love by making sure all the light bulbs work, the bills are paid and the coffee is made (even if you’d really feel loved if he’d sit and talk with you).
Prioritize what’s important to her simply because it’s important to her (even if you feel she’s too anxious about being on time).
Accept that his initiating sex is his way of reaching out to connect (not because he just wants to satisfy his sexual appetite and is ignoring the emotional distance between the two of you).”
Deborah Fox, MSW is a couples therapist and Certified Sex Therapist helping couples reconnect and find their way back to a passionate relationship. Visit Deborah on her website, follow her blog on YourTango, or if you’re in the DC Metro area, call her at 202-363-1740 to discuss if she can be of help to you.
4. Remind yourself that you are different people who share the same marriage.
“Judgement sins, are like a knife. They ruin everything. Enhance romance, through melodic tones. Find a beautiful sonata with tones that describe endearing qualities your love possesses.
Frequent listening invokes remembrance, appreciation, and enjoyment of his or her goodness. At times, when one feels overwhelmed, irresistible attributes are forgotten.
Continuing in this pattern presents a difficulty. Admiration through soulful melodic vibrations augments the love frequency for those who believe that marital bliss is all about loving. The resulting acceptance changes the pattern, radically.”
Falena Magnussen is an author, religious advisor for young women and editor. Her books are available on Amazon.
5. Take time to self-reflect.
"If you are constantly asking yourself if you're with the right guy, then YOU are the wrong person for HIM.
That questioning means you are not fully stepping into the relationship.
And each of you deserves to have a partner who is all in."
Heidi Hartston, PhD is a psychologist in private practice in Oakland, CA. You can visit her website or watch her talks on YouTube.
6. If change must happen, remember you can only change yourself.
"The relentless struggle of trying to change your partner is surely likely to backfire. Despite all good intention, disapproval prevails, and leaves in its path the ruins of resentment".
Katherine Mazza, LMHC is a Couples Therapist in New York City. She is a Relationship Expert providing ongoing education and support for couples at The Relationship Place of NY. Visit her Facebook page and YourTango for articles and blog posts.
7. Find reasons to be thankful, and really mean it!
“Accept your spouse by showing more gratitude. Just take a minute right now to appreciate one thing they do in your life that you hate doing yourself.
Being grateful is one of the best ways to keep your loving going strong. But don't just think it, say it! Make sure your spouse knows he/she's got the best partner on the planet.
When the lust fades, show them gratitude for the rest of your days. When the lust fades, offer gratitude in heartfelt ways.”
Lori Peters is a writer, speaker and radio show host on happiness in relationships. Check out her website and make sure to sign up for her Happiness Quick reads at www.happinesshangout.net.
8. Cultivate your marriage by being a good friend to your spouse.
“Live every day with a renewed appreciation for him and your love for each other will deepen and strengthen.” “If you have a love–friendship instead of love-hate relationship, it is your friendship with each other that will smooth the rough spots when the love part hits a speed bump.
That’s when you can sit down as supportive friends and talk about what’s happening to the marriage, and how to make it right again.
Radical acceptance means loving him without borders or boundaries. There is no ‘but’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘if’; it means you include him into your heart because loving him is paramount to loving yourself.”
Margot Brown has helped couples and individuals create happier lives for 20 years. She’s the author of: “Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out” You can find it on Amazon or in a local bookstore near you.
9. Enjoy the diversity you both bring to the marriage.
"Let go of the fantasy image of your spouse that you hold in your head. When you compare a real live human being to the perfect one in your mind, they will always come up lacking.
Instead, focus on having gratitude for the real person in your life — for the traits and quirks they have that you love, and also for the things you don't love and how these may be helping you to grow and mature.
Most of us hold within us an unrealistic ideal, and when this clashes with reality then we end up suffering. A happy marriage is one where you see your partner for who they truly are rather than as you wished they would be."
Mia Von Scha is a life coach who works with parents to steer them on their family adventure, guiding them through relationship, child raising and life challenges. Join the journey and get Mia's Top 5 Parenting Survival Tools free!
10. Allow room for growth, for both you and your partner.
“Marriage is a committed partnership in which we often expect our loved ones to change or evolve at the same pace we do.
Accepting our partners will undergo personal growth in their own time and in their own way requires true patience.
But is essential as it provides the unconditional love they require from us to be successful in their transition.”
Michelle Tajudeen is a certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and Founder of MetaCC Incorporated. You can follow her blog on YourTango or learn more about her on her website.
11. Grow together.
“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems." —The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Acceptance of another person’s point of view is the beginning of respectful and effective communication. Acceptance does not necessarily mean agreement, however, saying “I hear you and understand what you are saying,” opens the door to being heard as well.
Once both legitimate perspectives are on the table, we can begin to resolve issues. Men and women have different ways of looking at things.
These perspectives, while not the same, can be compatible.
Radical acceptance clears the way for resolution, reduces defensiveness and allows a relationship to deepen and bloom, even during difficult periods of stress.”