Total Acceptance From the Heart is How You Create Peace in Your Relationship

Total Acceptance From the Heart is How You Create Peace in Your Relationship

What do I want to tell you about relationships? I could rework what other people have written, whether the five love languages or the parent-adult-child model of transactional analysis, but what I truly know is at the level of learned experience, not words.

These days, I exist without need. Written down, that sounds stupid. Of course I need food, water, the whole hierarchy of Maslow’s needs. Of course I love and crave touch, comfort, sex, ideas; all of those. But there is also a way I can be alone without yearning. It’s not that I’m an introvert, because that is just a point on the line between solitude and connection; we all live somewhere on that scale.

In my earlier years, I had a need to fill a void of some sort. Perhaps that was the wound of separation from family, whether that happened in early childhood or from leaving home, yet now that sense of incompleteness has gone. This is not to say that I don’t get tremendous pleasure and comfort from my relationship with Maude; I do, and were it to end, as it is bound to end for one of us, of course I would be bereft, wounded, at a loss. Yet I would survive in a way that was not possible in my twenties.

I can name the factors that led to that change. Decades of meditation; zazen, to be precise. This involves sitting, following the breath and avoiding thoughts as much as possible (which is not much) in favor of paying attention to the body, the here and now.

A lifetime of living has given me a rich sampling of what is possible. There are paths not taken that I would have enjoyed, like being an architect. I no longer have time to take these routes, but I do not regret them. I still have plans, projects and ideas that may not all fit in my allotted time. So be it.

And obviously my body has changed. Its desires and capabilities are different.

But I don’t want to convey the message that a successful relationship requires a long apprenticeship, because what Maude and I have is an attitude, and I see no reason why it cannot be adopted by anyone at any age.

Total acceptance from the heart is how you create peace in your relationship #relationships #quote Click To TweetIt starts from the understanding that we are two completely separate individuals. My desires, pleasures, thoughts and worries are not hers, even though there is much overlap. It is where they don’t overlap that the differences stand out.

Ooh look, she’s doing it the opposite from me! She’s going about it all wrong; that’s not the efficient way to do it. Her reading list is so different from mine. I would be exhausted from the amount of time she spends on the phone communicating with friends.

Some of these are adorable and some annoying, but I know that her core values and intentions in this world are good and match mine. I know this at such a deep level that naming them comes second. Her differences are how she chooses to carry out those intentions, yet they only arise because I have made different choices, and my choices have no more weight than hers. Any annoyance at such differences is for me to resolve by looking at why it annoys me. There is no place for criticism. Even advice is to be given lightly because it can veer into control with a more palatable syntax.

So far I have spoken little of why we are together. The word love does not come easily to me. I associate it too readily with soaring strings and black-and-white movies, yet I find it in a myriad of small things: the way we touch shoulders when sitting; my admiration for the way she connects with others; the cooperative way we manage the dishes. Maude gives me the support, intimacy and connection we all need as humans, and because my individuality, my differences, are fully accepted, the only limit to closeness is how much I can open up and be myself.

I approach her to fulfill my needs but have no expectations because she is her own person. That may sound crazy in the face of wedding vows and living together and the work of maintaining a household, but it means that everything given is a joy, a bonus. I start off complete and am added to, instead of having expectations that will not always be met.

It is a very paradoxical state I am describing. By expecting nothing, I receive everything. Maude and I remain puzzled, dazzled and awed by the coexistence of complete freedom and effortless connection.

We realize this idea of total acceptance may be difficult to grasp. Not only is it a paradox, but it flies in the face of modern expectations of what a relationship is. Yet ideas like this are a reframing, a sudden seeing the world from a different angle, and can occur in an instant. Change your mind and you change your world.

(This blog is the result of a long discussion with Maude and some of her writing suggestions.)


Photo credit: Maude Mayes

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4 Comments on “Total Acceptance From the Heart is How You Create Peace in Your Relationship

  1. Wow! thank you Phil! for putting into words this deeply intimate journey that invites us all to see this vast dimension of how you’ve navigated through the really rough terrain of personal differences! I do see myself doing so much of the same thinking. You have illustrated how one can face enormous differences and yet remain calm and accepting of the other. Clearly it is through total acceptance of the other because there is no threat of losing anything while respecting another approach. I just love this piece! WOW! Change your mind and you change your world.

    • Thank you, Iris. We’ve been reading Dear Sugar, the advice column by Cheryl Strayed, and I am in awe of how she is able to reach so deeply into herself in response to the letters. She is an inspiration for trying to hear my own voice.

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