Recently, as I was listening to one of the marriage counselling programmes, a man asked a question, which many people may have asked in the past. He said the lady he wants to marry does not speak good English and he is embarrassed whenever she comes around to see him. He was asking if he should marry the lady or not? This is what happens when we are not able to accept our spouse with their flaws that we recognise before marriage or the ones that will be discovered after marriage.
Some partners are embarrassed and possibly nurse the idea of changing their spouse, if they have not yet made up their mind to change them.
I was happy that this person realised they would have issues with being proud of their spouse if they went ahead and marry out of pity or for other reasons. They will be unable to accept this woman with her level of education, and therefore will not connect emotionally and on other levels.
Singles, it is important to consider the person you want to marry and assess the qualities and characters you can see now. Will you truly accept this person with all their flaws and without being embarrassed? If you are not proud to show off your fiancé or fiancée due to any flaws, please do not go ahead because you have not accepted them.
Acceptance is one of the secrets to having a happy and lasting marriage. To accept means to be willing to tolerate someone or something. It is the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable. It also means embracing, adoption and integration.
To accept your spouse means they become a member of your family, in marriage you and your spouse becomes one. That is the principle of acceptance, if you are not seeing your spouse as belonging to your group or as an equal, you are yet to accept your spouse. Some of the reasons why many marriages fail are the lack of acceptance of the wife or husband as a full member of the family, in some parts of the world. The wife is seen as an alien or intruder into the family and if not specifically told to their face, many actions from the extended family will boldly communicate this.
Read part 1: Principles of Marriage: FORGIVENESS (Part 1)
Some people believe and start their marriage with the intention that their spouse can leave them at any time. Therefore they never commit to the marriage. They have already broken the principle of marriage that says two flesh shall become one. They live with the conviction that they can never rely on, or trust their spouse with their all. If you have this mindset, please renew your mind.
A marriage that will last, will not be started with the intention to go apart, but with the intention to bond and become one forever.
The bible says in Romans 8:15 “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him, we cry, “Abba Father.”
When you accept your spouse as a permanent member and equal member of your family which is made of husband, wife, and the children, then there should be no fear of treating your spouse as yourself. Sadly, many people do not consider their family unit as that immediate nucleus family. In its place, they focus on extended family members and give priority to meeting their needs and fulfil the desires of these people above and over their partners.
In order to improve your marriage relationship if you have not fully accepted your spouse, become more accepting of your partner’s strengths and weaknesses. Rather than to continue attempting to get them to change fundamentally, embrace and grow together.
If you are newly married or about to marry, as you continue to solidify and form a new identity with your spouse, negative thinking can set in and flaws become apparent. It is important to come back to this principle of acceptance. If you do not reign in negative thoughts such as “this is not the person I thought I wanted” they soon take over like weeds and destroy your very beautiful marriage. And that’s where a small strain can easily take hold of an otherwise happy and healthy marriage.
Believe it or not, all marriages, no matter how strong, or deeply connected, will experience strain when change happens.
The difference between a successful marriage and an unsuccessful marriage is influenced by the level of acceptance by each spouse.
Below are suggested and fundamental truths you can hold onto, to help you practice the principles of acceptance.
You will be able to accept your spouse if you learn and practice these truths:
- Accept you are in this marriage together for the long run. You are convinced and willing to live the rest of your life with your partner. You are no longer two but one flesh. Who hates their own flesh?
- You have no control over your spouse’s behaviour, and you are accepting this person for who they are. You are set free because you will then realize that, you don’t have any control over them, just the choices that you make about being with them.
- Realise we are all flawed, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. You must realise there is no perfect human being. You are also flawed, and your spouse is living with that reality.
- Set healthy boundaries early, decide what you can live with and that which will set you ablaze.
- Leave room for personal growth, accept and believe your partner will undergo personal development in their own time and in their way. This requires patience and decide to grow together. If there is an area of weakness, instead of criticism and resentment, help your spouse to grow and develop in that area. We cannot be perfect, and we have blind spots.
- We must understand that we are different and have been brought up in a different environment. Actions and culture that are acceptable in my house may be a taboo in yours. Develop a win-win attitude where you differ.
- You must have the understanding that men and women are different in so many ways. This will help you come to terms with your partner’s eccentricities.
Below are some of the different ways men and women show their differences, almost universally.
Men value power, competence, efficiency, and achievements, but women value love, communication, beauty, and relationships.
Men feel hurt and incompetent when you offer them unsolicited advice. Why? because asking for help can be seen as a weakness. Whereas to women folks, it is a sign of caring to give advice and suggestions.
The dilemma in men and women relationship is the lack of understanding and acceptance of our differences.
Men want to fix women, they want to offer a solution, when all a woman wants is for you to listen and empathise.
Women want to help men by offering unsolicited advice and improve men. Yet men want to fix themselves and find a solution by themselves. Can you see the need for understanding and acceptance? We must accept that men and women are different, and that does not mean we cannot live together in harmony. The principle of acceptance is to embrace our partner which can only be achieved with determination, discipline, and effort.
John Gray in his book Men are from Mars women are from Venus said –
“When men and women can respect and accept their differences, then love has a chance to blossom.”
What will true acceptance based on the few differences between men and women, that I have discussed above mean to you as a man or a woman?
Man – Practice listening whenever a woman speaks. Have the sole intention of respectfully understanding what she is going through, without offering a solution.
Woman – practice restraining yourself from giving unsolicited advice or criticism, allow the man to solve his problem or ask.
Suggested Read: The king advisers – who advises you about your marriage matters?
It is not easy to do because it is opposite of what we are wired to do, this is the sacrifice that marriage needs. Acceptance is the highest level a husband and wife can operate on and begin to grow and deepen their love for each other. Sadly, because this has not been taught or explained properly to many, including to me. We are always seeking to change and modify our spouse, either by control or abuse. If you are reading this, and you feel that any of the issues above resonate with you, decide, and learn to accept your spouse, especially, if you are now married. There is no perfect spouse out there, you can work with who you have. The best time is during courtship, decide who you want to marry and make sure you can and will accept them with their good and not so good. Every human being has strengths and weaknesses. Focus on their strengths, celebrate that, and develop and work on your areas of weakness.
Are you longing for inspiration for your life and marriage? Learning new skills and acquiring knowledge can greatly improve your relationship with your spouse. When you know better, you can do better and make a big difference in your relationship. Subscribe to updates from Abi here!
Abi Apalara loves sharing insightful information that helps couples flourish in life and their marriage relationship. I have enjoyed both good marital pleasures and challenging times in my marriage. I came to realise, the points where I missed it, were areas I lacked information on how to.
Making it up along the way, only meant I was going the wrong way. Desperately seeking to get back into marital bliss, I started exploring and reading about those areas of challenge. I also reached out to counselors and began to see what I was missing.
After a surprising move into relationship study, I have found peace of mind and happy with my marriage. I have authored the book Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus realty to share my experience and encourage men and women to work on their
marriages, by seeking knowledge and apply it to their marriage relationship.
My latest book, Are you ready? Marriage expectation versus reality focuses on discovering some of the unrealistic expectations we bring into a marriage. It comes with practical advice and a guide on how to get it right before and after getting married. You can also preorder the book here