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Why You Need Unconditional Acceptance in Your Relationship

Two people readingPHIL: How many couples do you know who criticize each other? Try to control the other? Try to change the other? Nearly everyone behaves like this at times.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine making no demands on the other. That means none. At all. Ever.

That might seem an impossible, unrealistic goal. Suppose they do something you don’t like? Well, you could attempt to change their behavior. Right here, we have conflict, and the end result isn’t good – either you get your way, but they feel criticized, attacked, controlled, or you lose and feel frustrated and defeated, while they await the next attack.

I’m not suggesting that the only alternative is nothing. You can state how you feel or what you want without making it a demand, explicit or implicit, on the other. “I’m feeling cold” is different from “Close that window.” The former is a revealing of your self, an opening up; the latter is an attempt to bend others to your will.

Now turn this around and imagine that your partner makes no demands on you. Ever. You can go to the pub without snide comments. You can leave the washing-up until the morning. You can pass on visiting the in-laws. Imagine, once you get used to it, how liberating it would be. I liken the normal state of affairs to dancing barefoot in a room with thumbtacks on the floor. Even though there be ever so few, you cannot dance freely, but once you learn and come to trust there are no tacks, you can soar as never before.

This mutuality of permission is, of course, the golden rule, do as you would be done by. You might hesitate at embarking on this, fearing either that if you can never make demands on your partner, they will do unacceptable things, or that if you never react defensively, your partner may take advantage of you.

Quite possible. They may behave in a way that you can never accept – lying, being financially irresponsible, cheating – and obviously, there is no future there, no matter how good the makeup sex is. But maybe it is just that they are merely being themselves, and not doing anything fundamentally unacceptable. Only time and experience can show you which is which.

But once you can accept that your partner’s different behavior is just that – different – then savor that difference and celebrate the variety they bring into your life.

MAUDE: We have discovered that unconditional acceptance of your partner is a baseline for a peaceful relationship. Being treated with total acceptance calls forth a markedly different response in most all of us. When you know that you are not going to be attacked or criticized, an amazing feeling of true peace and calm settles within you and you feel free to be who you truly are and to share this within the relationship, without any fear of reprisals or rejection. Your interactions are not based on power, seeking attention, wanting to be right, or needing to have things only the way you envision them. Instead, you can be open to explore in a way that is only available when full acceptance exists.

We are really talking about what we call the 100% factor. There is no comparison between 100% and 98%. This is similar to two different ways that people try to stop smoking. In one situation, a person decides they have stopped smoking. Any time the urge to smoke comes up, they think to themselves, “No, I won’t be doing that because I already stopped smoking. I don’t do that anymore.” Simple – no decision to be made – it’s already been made – onto the next thing! The other person craves a cigarette and thinks “Well, maybe I’ll just have one. Maybe I’ll just have two a day and slowly stop. Maybe I’ll stop tomorrow.” This person has to make a fresh decision each time the thought comes up. Who do you think actually stops smoking?

Similarly, total acceptance must be total to actually work. To come to a place where you can accept your partner and their actions totally, you have to have a clear baseline of matching core values. Once this is the case, then all else is off limits. It is trespassing on the unique expression of that other person, your partner.

This does not mean that you should not communicate honestly about your feelings and needs. You can always share, speaking in the “I” about those and should. Just be clear that this is really about you and not your partner, and do not express things in a blaming or accusatory manner. Don’t try to change your partner because you are already matching in all the things that truly matter to you. Enjoy the differences, and if you stumble on something that keeps nagging at you, share honestly. But remember, your reactions are about you, not your partner.

Honesty is critical to a flourishing relationship and is a prerequisite of total acceptance. You must trust your partner and believe that you both have each other’s interests and happiness in mind and in intention.

Once you reach the acceptance threshold of 100%, your mind is not busy with whether the person is right or wrong, or needs changing or adjusting. Instead, when you accept yourself and the other and go forward in the freedom that this way of being brings, it creates an exquisite experience of peace and joy.

Keep those comments coming! Click here to post them on the bottom of the blog. And listen to Phil's pearly tones reading this blog to you.

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfThis week we blogged about total acceptance. Here are a few articles that discuss different aspects of this topic. 

Is ‘Radical Acceptance’ the Key to a Lasting Relationship? "I had been perpetuating the turmoil in our relationship by continuing to focus on Sanjay’s flaws. Instead, I needed to accept him as he was and commit to loving him. I needed to fully accept myself as well and not let the fear of rejection prevent me from being open and honest with my feelings."

7 Ways to Be More Accepting of Your Partner—and Build a Stronger Relationship "The best relationships involve two individuals who feel they can function independently of one another. When one half of a partnership tries to control the other, the results can be disastrous for both sides. A healthy relationship includes trust, and an ability to let the other person be fully themselves, while also fully accepting and loving them."

9 Differences Between Accepting & Tolerating Your Partner "Regarding romantic relationships, you may accept certain traits about your partner while only tolerating others. Of course, it helps to understand the differences between accepting and tolerating your partner in order to make the differentiation. 'When we tolerate behavior, we are still angry, frustrated and resentful about it,' Kim Olver, MS, LCPC, NCC, BCC, founder of The Relationship Center, and author of Secrets of Happy Couples, tells Bustle. 'However, when we get to acceptance, all the negativity falls away — there is no frustration, anger, or resentment.'"


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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