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A secret ingredient for happy relationships? Is there such a thing? An interesting perspective on navigating relationships through acceptance.
I don’t believe there is anyone on earth who can truthfully claim to enjoy trouble-free relationships. Be it your husband, your parents, your in-laws, or your friend, you’ve probably experienced some degree of tension with them all!
Now, it isn’t fun to clash with someone you’re supposed to be close to. You and I want our relationships to be happy and harmonious; free of resentment and negativity. We want to like the people who are an important part of our lives, and want them to like us too.
So, is there something we can put into our relationships that will minimize conflict and make them more enjoyable? There is, and I’m going to give it to you for free!
The secret ingredient that will make your personal relationships easier is this:
“STOP TELLING OTHERS WHAT TO DO.”
That’s all there is to it. Stop trying to control other adults.
Your husband doesn’t want you telling him whom he shouldn’t be friends with. Your grown-up son does not want you deciding whom he should marry. Your daughter-in-law will not appreciate your constant ‘advice’ on how she should conduct herself. Your wife will not appreciate you nagging her to ‘improve’ her style and appearance. Your mother-in-law does not want to be told to ‘stop praying so much’. Your friend does not want you needling her to lose weight.
The secret to making your personal relationships easier is to respect others’ differences of opinion and manner. Don’t stand in their way as they go about doing their own thing. Don’t get after them to live and behave by your standards.
If you’re not convinced yet, ask yourself just one question:
Is it more important to have people do things your way, than to have them feel comfortable with you and enjoy your company?
Most of us choose the former option. We don’t realize that we’re not going win anyone’s goodwill by imposing our opinions upon them. No functioning adult likes being told what they should, or should not, be doing with their lives! Nobody wants you telling them (or even implying) that they’re ‘not doing things right’ or ‘can do better’.
Although we might have good intentions, we distance ourselves from those we attempt to ‘control’. Remember that control isn’t just limited to explicit issuance of orders or threats. Covert or subtle manipulation – dropping of hints, indirect references, withholding affection, over-persuasion, continuous unsolicited advice, comparisons, emotional blackmail, etc. – all amount to control too. Don’t even go there if you want to have happy and comfortable relationships!
Everyone is just as entitled to his or her ways as you are. The only two (peaceful) ways in which you can deal with others’ differences are (a) to either accept those people as is, or (b) distance yourself from them if you’re finding it hard to put up.
Acceptance simplifies relationships. When we focus on the good in people instead of trying to change or improve them, we give them the chance to like us and enjoy our company. Relationships which focus on the positives will be much more fun, more comfortable, much easier to manage, and definitely more successful. So, next time you’re tempted to tell your husband to stop playing video games or your daughter-in-law what she shouldn’t be wearing, let them be. Let them be, and see the difference it makes to your relationship!
Holding hands image via Shutterstock
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