Five Steps to Loving Your Partner As They Are And Giving Grace
Most of us put an incredible amount of energy into trying to get our partner to change. How many times have you argued with your spouse, blaming them and / or defending yourself for some small, yet bothersome trait? We may hold onto a belief that, "if only he / she would change, I would be happy." This common pattern leads us to feel disappointed and disillusioned.
But what if your partner is perfect the way they are. In fact, what if they are who they are supposed to be. Let's suppose you would like to take on this, more positive, view of your partner. How would you go about doing just that?
1. Stop looking for the ideal partner or the ideal relationship. We usually enter into a love relationship with the idea that our partner will "complete us." We expect that they will make us feel special or better. Although you may have this ideal firmly planted in your mind, it is often incompatible with reality. It may be more about how you expect things to be, how you want them to be, rather then what they really are. Neither your partner nor your relationship is perfect. It never will be. When you stop looking for the ideal partner or the ideal relationship, you can start to be grateful for what you do and realize that what is in front of you is what should be there.
2. Be observant. Instead of hoping for the ideal partner or perfect relationship, look at what you really have in front of you. What is your relationship really like? What is your partner really like? The only way to know this is to be observant.
3. Understand your partner's intention. Think about what you observe in your partner and start wondering. Why is she the way she is? Why did he do what he did? Why does this problem we have exist? What did they really mean when they said that? Don't stop at the first answers you come up with — dig deeper, and deeper, until you really understand the intention of your partner. As Steven Covey said, "Seek first to understand." You may need to stay calm and ask questions of your spouse to fully understand. Assume the best in your spouse, even when they are acting poorly. When you do understand their intentions, give them grace for how they expressed themselves.
The definition of Grace: The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit
or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.
"To understand everything is to forgive everything." — Buddha
4. Acceptance. Once you've observed and begun to understand your partners' intentions, accept them as they are. Accept the relationship as it is. Accept this as fact. There is freedom in accepting things as they truly are. You can let go of fantasy and the anxiety that holding onto the ideal brings.
"Happiness can exist only in acceptance." -George Orwell
5. Love and compassion. Once you've accepted your partner for who he or she is, learn to love them, as they are. Look for the good in them, in what they do, and in their intentions. When you absolutely cannot find the good, understand that this is because of their own suffering and have compassion.
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy,
practice compassion. "-Dalai Lama