Over and over, relationships struggle with the idea of perfection. Often, a spouse is held to an impossibly high standard of perfection, regardless of the fact that the other person doesn’t consider themselves to be perfect. As a San Diego mediator, we see that this difference in expectations and reality is a huge relationship stressor that can lead to serious trouble. So how do you stop yourself from expecting perfection or continuously falling short of what your partner unfairly expects? Like anything, it starts with a discussion.
Love Isn’t Always Being Happy
Typically, love starts out with infatuation. Loving someone is easy, you see all their best personality traits. Everyone is on their best behavior; everything seems simple. Both parties are happy and carefree (for the most part) without much of a struggle. But as reality begins to set back in, the stressors of everyday life begin to chip away at your previous perception of that person. You start to see them upset, sad, or angry. Life can get complicated, and sometimes you feel obligated to do things you don’t necessarily want to do. This is where love is tested. You have to be comfortable with the idea that love isn’t always being happy. People have very human emotions, and loving someone even when things aren’t happy isn’t easy or straightforward. Most of the time, your partner isn’t looking for a fix, they just want you to sit with them. Just love them while they are angry, sad, or not feeling great. Take their hand, look into their eyes, and just be.
Frame the Negative as a Positive
Everyone has something about themselves that is less than perfect. However, associating a negative trait with a positive trait can be a helpful tool to learn to appreciate who your spouse is as a whole and complete person. For example, your spouse doesn’t seem to listen when you are talking. However, they may just be very focused on what they are doing. Instead of saying to yourself “They never listen.” Instead, frame it positively. “I appreciate their ability to focus on whatever task they are doing.” This can help prepare you to talk to them about a concern if it is something you want to eventually bring up. For example, “I notice when you are focused on a task, you don’t seem to hear me when I speak to you. Your ability to focus on tasks is a quality I appreciate, however, what can I do to let you know I need to be heard?”
Communicate What You Can and Cannot Accept
It is ok to have your own limits and boundaries. Be clear in what you can and cannot accept in a person. However, you should learn to pick your battles. Constantly criticizing your partner is a big red flag that something isn’t right. When bringing up something that is a hard “no” for you in your relationship, first take some time to reflect on why and how it impacts you. Try and frame it using “I” language instead of the accusatory “you.” For example: “When you do X, It makes me feel Y.”
Sometimes it can just be hard to navigate a conversation that is emotionally charged. Embrace imperfections and cultivate mindful relationships. Contact West Coast Family Mediation for guidance towards growth, acceptance, and transformative connections.