This year, my wife and I celebrated twenty four years of marriage and twenty seven years of dating. I am grateful to have shared more of my life married to this one woman than I have lived unmarried. So often, people ask me, “what is your secret for being happily married for so long”? To which, I often reply, “some of those years were not happy, they were commitment”.
Over the years, I have discovered one of the most amazing truths about love and marriage:
The truth that I cannot change another human being, nor do I need to change them in order to be happy with them.
Which means, if we are to forge loving, lasting relationships, we must learn to love past [beyond] the things that we dislike about our partners.
For your convenience I have extrapolated from my marriage some keys for loving your partner beyond what you do not like about them:
1. Be honest about how your feelings, but don’t use them to emotionally badger your partner. There is an amazing freedom in expressing your truth, and then leaving things alone.
2. Pray for greater strength to love beyond your limits. Some things are humanly impossible.
3. Don’t focus too deeply on what you dislike; focus instead on what you love about your spouse and the things that made you fall in love with them in the first place.
4. Avoid becoming negative and antagonistic about what you dislike, as this will plant emotional toxicity into the relationship, and will ruin your ability to be able to truly enjoy your partner.
5. Remember that no amount of complaining will change another person. A better choice is that of expressing gratitude for them. You always get more of what you are willing to celebrate.
6. Consider your own imperfections when dealing with your partner about theirs.
7. Practice seeing your partner as a new being each morning. This resets the relationship.
8. Expect the best, even when you sometimes see the opposite. Hope has a powerful way of bending life in your favor.
Lastly, understand that it is impossible to create perfection when working with imperfect pieces. Just because your relationship is not perfect, does not mean that it cannot be fulfilling. Practice giving yourself permission to thoroughly enjoy an imperfect relationship, with an imperfect person.
After all, that is what you are also.
Dr. Mark T. Jones Sr.