Radical Acceptance is the key to Unconditional Love

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Radical Acceptance is the key to Unconditional Love

We are all familiar with the fairy tale ending “And they lived happily ever after.” But can this happen in real life? Sure it can. It all depends on your attitude in your relationship and your point of view. If you interpret this as your partner being perfect then you are going to be woefully disappointed. This disappointment will weigh heavily on the relationship, may even tear it apart. But if you see it as finding someone who is not necessarily perfect but perfect for you, this is something different altogether. Of course your partner will have faults, in this outlook, as will you. The point is to accept each other as humans who inherently have flaws and to work together to circumnavigate those flaws and find ways to be happy together. You need to accept your partner’s issues in a radical way.

Truly, radical acceptance is the key to unconditional love. That certainly doesn’t mean that you should put up with any abuse, neither physical nor emotional. It does mean that when your spouse or partner has left their wet towels on the bed for the umpteenth time that you shake your head and laugh, and instead of having a blow up fight about it, you realize that you aren’t reaching them and need to find another way to communicate how this makes you feel. Part of the difference is between focusing on someone’s flaws and accepting that person for who they really are. Of course if you are going to do this, your partner needs to know about it. In fact they should practice the same in return.

Another important aspect is to accept yourself for who you are, and your partner doing the same. That means accepting your feelings. Some people swallow things that bother them in a relationship in order to keep the peace, but this is where repressed anger comes from and it can poison a relationship in the form of passive-aggressive behavior, sarcasm and more. Instead, both must commit to being honest and open with one another. But find ways to communicate your feelings in a positive way, and in a way where your partner will recognize, understand and be able to accept, perhaps even modify their behavior, or at least come to some sort of understanding and compromise with you. Radical acceptance is being able to love your partner with absolute empathy and compassion. It isn’t keeping them at arm’s length when things get hard but instead letting them in. It’s accepting their faults and even loving them because of their faults, as this is just a part of what makes them who they are. Radical acceptance is meant to free both parties, to feel accepted and loved way deep down, and feel empowered to communicate freely and in a positive way to overcome obstacles to intimacy and grow forever closer. To learn more on how to use this outlook to change your life read, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach.

Celebrating Imperfection in Love

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Celebrating Imperfection in Love

Lots of women and men too are looking for perfection. They roll their eyes when they hear their standards are too high. They go for that great catch who is attractive, smart, has a high salary and that fancy car, only to be cheated on, let down, cast aside or somehow or other find some other character flaw that keeps them from relationship bliss. Others settle for less and complain the whole time without demanding more from their relationship or finding something new. Still other relationships start out great but as time wears on one or both partners start discovering the others’ faults. Instead of focusing on the positive or loving them anyway, they get more and more annoyed and irritated by these things as time wears on and this irritation drives them apart.

Certainly there are those qualities no one should put up with, physical or emotional abuse, negligence, being ignored, serial infidelity and disrespect.  But the imperfections lots of people see in their lovers or relationships generally aren’t that serious. But they become exasperated by them anyway. Instead of dwelling on imperfections celebrate imperfection in love. Nothing in the world is perfect. If you are going for perfect you will be constantly frustrated and never find pure bliss. In Japanese culture this is called Wabi Sabi, the art of finding the beauty hidden within imperfection.

Many Westerners have grown up with a fairy tale version of love. But this can’t exist in real life. Anyone who tries to bring perfection into their relationship will inevitably suffer from heartache. Instead, coming to terms with your own and your lover’s imperfections is what love is all about. Not only accepting but reveling in or loving them because of their flaws, giving total acceptance and receiving it in return is a mark of true love. That doesn’t mean you have to put up with your lover leaving their dirty socks on the bathroom floor. Certainly communication in a variety of ways has to be put forth to stop this phenomenon from occurring. It does mean that you shake your head and laugh as they’ve done it again, instead of sulking, complaining, nagging or wallowing in sorrow that this isn’t the relationship you wanted, the one that you saw so clearly in your head.

Wabi Sabi love is practical, natural and comes to understand that we are all human. Though we strive for perfection we cannot reach it. But it is exactly this striving and who we are despite ourselves that make us truly beautiful and unique. Find ways when you are modeling behavior that strives for perfection to instead bring a Wabi Sabi type of experience into your relationship. If you start displaying un-Wabi Sabi type behavior modeled after your parents, have your spouse or significant other call you by that parent’s name. Empathy is required, that is being able to “walk a mile” in your lover’s shoes. This again should not be used regarding toxic patterns but only the little foibles, faux pas and idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. To find out more pick up a copy of, Wabi Sabi Love: The Ancient Art of Finding Perfect Love in Imperfect Relationships by Arielle Ford.

Why Staying Together for the Kids is a Bad Idea

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Why Staying Together for the Kids is a Bad Idea

Trying to stick together for the children, even after you’ve done everything possible to resurrect your marriage, usually just makes things worse. Even when the children are shielded from the arguments, they can sense the hostility like a tense fog over the house. Some kids even report feeling relieved when hearing of their parent’s divorce, the opposite of what we picture would happen, begging them to stay together. But having things appear to be working and having them actually working are two different things. You can’t hide the truth from them. They live there, too. And they know, already. Kids have an incredible beat on what’s happening with their parents. It’s some sort of natural inclination. But to deny it is to insult their intelligence. Children also model their romantic relationships after their parents. If you stay together without any longer feeling love, commitment or any tender feelings at all towards one another, what kind of message are you sending them? Will they do the same in their future marriages or relationships? Don’t you want them to be happy and follow that happiness, wherever it may lead? If you stick together, your sacrifice is wasted. In fact, it is doing more harm than good.

There are lots of considerations when getting a divorce. There is the financial burden, which everyone will endure, including the children. It can be hard in a variety of ways. There is telling them, the possibility of moving and putting them in a new school, custody battles, and fights over asset allocation, child support and alimony. The average divorce lasts somewhere in the vicinity of six months. The most hotly debated and contentious can take years. For those in no financial condition to divorce, a separation until the means for a simple divorce can be arranged may be the best answer.  Some worry about the stigma. But today, divorce is so common the stigma has virtually evaporated. What generally happens when it is all over, or at least when a new pattern settles in, is things get better. Without living in a contentious household, the kids feel more secure. They will relax and be themselves. More focus will now be placed on them instead of on the elephant in the room. Parents can also feel that they are being upfront with their children, and the kids won’t feel lied to. There are also lots of life lessons being portrayed that can carry over into their love lives, once they grow up. Children learn to have realistic expectations for relationships, love and marriage. Too many people today have some sort of Disneyesque vision, skewing their expectations. They just are not realistic when it comes to love and relationships in the real world. But children of divorce see past all that. They are also less likely to jump into a committed relationship without thinking about it, and who with.

A divorce helps children see their parents as people. They see their parents in many different roles; sometimes as a worker, of course as a parent, a friend, child, and a sibling and when they start dating again, as a partner to someone else. In other words, the kids don’t take their vision of their parents for granted. They also recognize more closely that their parents are flawed, or to put it a better way, human. But children who see their parent’s marriage as an ideal to be lived up to, suddenly cannot choose what their heart wants. They keep chasing an ideal that they will never catch instead of the reality of love that is before them. Everyone has to find someone right for them. And those two people have to develop a relationship that works for their particular personalities. But when we try to bend a relationship to match some unrealistic ideal, things are bound to run in to trouble.

Children can see their parents more as people who have hopes, dreams, flaws and regrets. They also gather insight into how bad relationships operate and how good relationships work. Usually, parents get into other long-term relationships after divorce, or get remarried. So instead of focusing on having children coming from a “broken home,” realize that if your house is full of contention, either explicit or implicit, it is affecting the children far more negatively than you think. It’s best instead to have the courage to move on with your life, embrace who you are and after you heal, allow yourself to love again. These are great lessons to pass onto your children. They will learn to be brave, and go forth in the world to find the love that they deserve, the kind that is right for them. To learn how to operate and move forward when you have kids and a separation is looming read, The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive by Robert Emery.

The Importance of Open-Mindedness in Dating

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The Importance of Open-Mindedness in Dating

There are lots of frustrated, depressed and discouraged daters out there in the world today. They don’t think they will ever find the one for them. But there are only a few attitudes that can mean the difference between someone happy and satisfied in their love life and those who are not. One of the most important qualities a person can exhibit in dating is open-mindedness. Most people have a mental or even a physical checklist for what they are looking for in the perfect match. The best daters know that however realistic their list seems, they will date people who have other qualities that they like that aren’t on the list, or they may date people who have potential but don’t have one or even a few of the qualities they decided they were in search of. But the best daters don’t write someone off completely merely because they don’t possess all of the qualities they decided they needed. In fact, they may continue to date this person or these people, and be open-minded enough to the possibility that a person who does have these qualities may come along.

Those who are open-minded can see potentialities with people, ways to be flexible and make things work. They also know that they may need to throw out their checklist altogether. Lots of people gulp and feel a wave of fear with the thought of taking a checklist they worked hard on, which they were committed to and chucking it out the window. But the truth is that the human heart is far more intricate, precarious, mysterious and difficult to quantify than anything else on earth. Said differently, you could fall in love with someone, struck out of nowhere like a lightning bolt, or it may come to you slowly as the tide slowly rolls in to shore. But this person that you fall for may not have any of the qualities on your list. Lots of people hem and haw, maybe even deny the feelings that they have for a person due to their checklist. But the thing about falling in love is, you can’t predict it. There are proclivities but no sets of conclusions. And if you knew all about love and how we fall in love right from the beginning, wouldn’t that take the mystery out of it? And in taking out that mystery wouldn’t we lose something in the beauty of love? It’s that same mysteriousness that makes it interesting. Remember to stick to your core values. This should be someone you are comfortable with and have chemistry with. But don’t turn away good catches because they have one little imperfection here or there. You might go hungry. And who doesn’t have imperfections? You may even notice some in yourself. We all have them. Just find someone who has the kind you can live with. For more dating advice read, Decoding Love: Why it Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction by Andrew Trees.

Communicating your Weaknesses to your Date

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Just like with a job interview, in today’s high speed dating world possible mates want to know your weaknesses right up front. They aren’t trying to pry. They are busy with their careers and life too and only want to know about compatibility. If you are to love someone, you have to accept them for who they are. And if they have shortcomings you just can’t live with, there goes compatibility. There aren’t ever any perfect answers when discussing these with a potential romantic partner. But you want to paint your drawbacks in the best possible light. And really, what is life but a constant chance to work on ourselves? We should be able to communicate our weaknesses to a date with flare, even panache. It’s accepting your flaws, laughing at them, and feeling comfortable in your own skin that is most attractive. But how do you communicate your weaknesses to a date? First, if you’re not already, take some time and focus on becoming more self-aware. What are your shortcomings? If you say you don’t have any, your problem is obviously self-awareness. Everyone has weaknesses, but knowing what they are and compensating for them is seen as a great strength. Be honest with yourself and others. Don’t give them a canned, blanket response. They’ll recognize it and it will sound dishonest.

Instead, tell them what the problem really is, put it in the best light, and try to show how you cope or mitigate your shortcomings. For instance, being a perfectionist is not enough. Though this may send bells ringing that you are too high maintenance, unless this person is a perfectionist themselves, then it’s a match made in heaven. But tell them that your perfectionism is something you are working on. You don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings or drive them away. Or that you often fall behind in other tasks while concentrating in making this one thing perfect, causing you more stress. Of course, the person you are dating may find this cute or even do the same thing, in which case you are in. Or they may compliment you, they being the laid back type and you the high strung, ergo helping to balance one another out. Make sure your explanation is concise and clear. Don’t go on and on. No one wants a long list of enumerated faults on a date. Dates are supposed to be fun, not therapy. The person asks because they are interested in you. Maybe you seem too good to be true and they want to know what you are hiding, or what they may be in for.  Show how you are proactive in coping with or mitigating your shortfalls. But don’t let your date off the hook. If they ask, respond with the same question. It’ only fair. And see how they handle it. For more tips on what to ask your date, read the advice of M. D. Chuka in his book, 101 Good Questions to Ask on a Date: Discover Conversation Topics and Questions that will Eliminate any Incidence of Awkward Silence and Increase Attraction with Your Date.