Through the years, as relationships continue to grow, it can be easy to feel like there is some distance between you and your significant other. Some of the characteristics about them that you once enjoyed or loved you now see as negative attributes. Alan Fruzzetti talks about how to accept yourself and your partner in his book High Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy & Validation. When couples are in conflict, sometimes it feels easier to just avoid each other instead of actually trying to resolve the issue at hand. One of the first steps to resolving this conflict is learning to accept yourself and your partner.
When people think about acceptance, especially acceptance of self, it starts with being mindful and aware of how you act and react to certain situations. This is not an easy thing to do. Over the years, you have probably built up a series of defense mechanisms that have kept you feeling a sense of security. However, now they may be hurting your relationship and the person you should love the most. Being an effective couple, team, or even parents requires practice and practicing together. By being mindful and aware, you are acting together with your partner, acknowledging the other person’s concerns, and making it your concern as well.
Mindfulness involves the ability to be self-aware of your actions, being able to control what you pay attention to, and managing our emotions. Managing your emotions can be hard, especially during conflict, but is necessary for any relationship to last. When your emotions take over, your actions become more like reactions. This can satisfy immediate urges, but can also be detrimental in the long run.Of course emotions are important and should not be downplayed, but if you only pay attention to your emotions and not logic or reason, then things can get hard. When logic and emotions are both present and balanced, then you can be in a state of mind to receive feedback. Once you receive feedback, you can walk through conflict with the underlying knowledge that you love this person and want your relationship to work.
Mindfulness of Partner
Once you are mindful of yourself you can also start to be more mindful of your partner. When you can pay attention to your partner, you can better evaluate and judge what they are saying and what their needs are. Being mindful of your partner can help you notice and describe things as well as be able to respond without judgment. You can start to notice their facial expressions, their tone of voice, or the way they are walking, and describe these things as you are being very mindful of them. Noticing and describing things about your partner can often lead to understanding and curiosity to know more about the other.
Learning to accept yourself and your partner aren’t easy tasks. However, a therapist can help guide you along this journey of acceptance. It’s okay to seek support, and I am more than willing to meet with you both to provide the support you are looking for. We will work together to reconcile past experiences, live in the present and work towards the future to be able to live a meaningful life together. Don’t hesitate to call today!
Written by therapist Alex Parlette
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