7 Ways to Be More Accepting of Your Partner—and Build a Stronger Relationship

Release your need to fix them

One of the most common pitfalls in any committed relationship is assuming that the other person is the one who needs to change. Though it’s tempting to place all of the blame for your relationship troubles on your partner, Andrea Miller, CEO and founder of yourtango.com and author of Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love, believes that one of the best ways to overcome arguments is to stop trying to change your SO. Miller believes that radically accepting those you are in close relationship with reduces tensions and draws you closer to your partner. By releasing yourself from the burden of making your partner your project, you allow yourself to fully accept your loved one, faults and all. This introduces a new dynamic in the relationship, in which both partners feel mutually loved and respected.

Replace judgment with compassion

Everyone wants to find a relationship that feels completely safe and free of judgment. When partners find themselves clashing repeatedly and judging one another for poor decisions or actions, it only drives a larger wedge between them instead of building intimacy and the ability to be vulnerable. Instead of judging your partner for the way they load the dishwasher, take a moment to remove the judgmental thought and replace it with a sense of gratitude that your partner shares the housework. If you find yourself angry about your partner coming home late from work once again, decide instead to re-frame your thoughts into compassion for him or her, for having such a long day at work. Miller says, “This is the heart of Radical Acceptance. It’s a powerful, beautiful, and, ultimately, transformative practice—emphasis on practice! The key is to commit yourself to this intention and to simply be aware of when you’re being judgmental, and to call yourself out accordingly.” She continues,” I use this with my husband and with all of the other important relationships in my life—especially the ones that press my buttons. I know that when I’m judging someone else, that that negativity is coming right back to me.”

Extend empathy

The best way to stop a fight in its tracks is to put yourself in your partner’s place. During an argument, how do you like to be treated? It often helps to employ a management technique referred to as radical candor, in which the partners truly care about one another, yet provide direct and honest feedback to help one another become better. You can improve your relationship simply by giving your partner the respect, acceptance, and love you would like in return. “Replacing judgment with compassion and extending empathy all go hand-in-hand. By extending empathy to someone else, you’re able to create greater safety in the relationship, which fosters the ability for both of you to be truly seen and heard. Sometimes this can be scary, but it’s key to developing deep emotional intimacy,” Miller explains.

Stop trying to control them

The best relationships involve two individuals who feel they can function independently of one another. When one half of a partnership tries to control the other, the results can be disastrous for both sides. A healthy relationship includes trust, and an ability to let the other person be fully themselves, while also fully accepting and loving them. Miller believes that trying to control your partner is one of the unhealthiest, but most common habits in couples. She says, “Control is one of most insidious ways we sabotage ourselves and other people. Feeling the need to control things is your ego and fear rearing their ugly heads. However, these gremlins are very smooth so they operate in a very underhanded, typically unconscious manner.” She says, “We often feel a sense of righteousness and sometimes even moral authority, as we seek to control things and other people. The implicit assumption is ‘I know better’ or ‘I don’t trust you’, which ultimately translates into ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ or ‘my feelings matter more than yours.'”

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