Acceptance is one of the most powerful responses we can have to a difficult situation in relating. Unfortunately, it’s also one of our most unlikely responses. Problems usually excite us into action, or reaction, leaving us little space to relax, breathe, or just sit with what is happening. We have a low tolerance for things seeming to be “wrong,” so we tend to quickly jump into trying to change the situation – or each other.
Ironically, much of what we do is counterproductive. Our actions are based on the sense that what is happening here and now is unacceptable to us. Our partner ends up getting the message that they are unacceptable – so they become hurt or defensive, then counterreact, withdraw, or shut down. This only creates more problems for us to resolve.
Let’s face it – acceptance is what we all want to receive in a relationship. There’s no deeper hurt than the feeling of not being accepted. When we don’t feel accepted, we feel upset about our partner, ourselves, and our relationship. Typically, at that point our defensiveness and emotional reactions block us from seeing mutually fulfilling, constructive options.
Is there something that you find hard to accept right now in your relationship? If so, how does this keep you from fully accepting your partner? In what ways do you communicate or signal your nonacceptance? What is your partner’s response? How is your nonacceptance keeping you both from moving forward and creating more fulfilling options together?
The card ACCEPTANCE invites you to see how acceptance is the key that allows all movement. Nonacceptance is nothing more than a recognition that something doesn’t work. Taken by itself, this has little power to transform things. Keeping a focus on how things are wrong will only keep you stuck.
Acceptance is a key that can unlock the doors of a stuck situation. When you open the doors with acceptance, you can begin to breathe more freely. The key is in your heart. As you open your heart and begin to find acceptance, many things in a situation become free to move again. The doors of willingness can begin to open. Through these doors you and your partner are able to move forward together, and find new and positive possibilities that you could not see before.
In opening your heart, you begin to allow things to be as they are right now. You accept that the situation is the way it is, that you feel the way you do, and that your partner is the way they are – probably doing the best they can. Acceptance, however, does not mean accepting every way they act toward you. If behavior is physically or emotionally abusive, you are still responsible for saying what does not work for you and for making your boundaries clear.
Acceptance can create a safer space in which you and your partner may communicate better, even in the presence of a problem. Healthy partners don’t see problems as signs that the relationship is “bad,” or that something is “wrong” with each other. Instead, they accept the situation. They accept where they are with it – that they may feel hurt, sad, angry, or afraid or that they may not know exactly what to do. But they do know that in remembering the key of acceptance, they can open doors that lead to true fulfillment.
Get the effective coaching you need for lasting relationship change. Learn about our couples retreats and marriage retreats »