Want a Happier Marriage? Try Acceptance
What would you guess the most read article in The New York Times in 2016 was about? The presidential election? The Rio Olympics? The war in Syria? Actually, it was Alain de Botton’s article “Why you will marry the wrong person”.
Botton’s explanation for this is that we have unrealistic expectations “that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.” In order to have a happy marriage we must accept that 1) every human will frustrate, anger, and disappoint us and 2) our spouse is human and so are we.
Close relationships flourish when we know and accept others for who they are. Obviously, there are some things that are not acceptable, but in general we tend to err on the side of not accepting others because of the flaws that make them human.
One way to be more accepting is to make relationship-enhancing attributions. Attributions are the explanations we make for events in our lives. Relationships are stronger when we make internal attributions for positive behaviors (my husband came home early because he wants to spend time with me) and external attributions for negative behaviors (my husband came home late because he was caught in traffic). This is what parents typically do with their children. If your child yells “I hate you”, you would be hurt, but you’d wonder what was happening in her life at that moment to make her so upset.
We also need to accept our differences. People have different opinions and different interests. Accepting that your spouse has different political views or likes different activities is important. In fact, these differences are one of the benefits of a relationship. They help us to grow by having experiences that are new and interesting.
Strive to be a little more accepting and, hopefully, you’ll find you married the right person!