Coffee is one of my last sensual loves of the physical taste variety, yet my wife loathes the smell of it—whether it’s in the house or on my breath. Such a habit, however, hasn’t caused any marital sticking points yet, though there are many habits that rock households in exasperation. (What is clearly not the scope of this article are habits of addiction.)
We all have our nagging deficiencies; those habits or faults about us only our partners would faithfully endure. And that is the lot of the partner—to find a way to bridge the gap between annoyance and acceptance.
What can help is growing our understanding of three things:
1) Knowing and unconditionally accepting our partner;
2) Appreciating and accepting ourselves (and changing if we can); and,
3) Appreciating the unique relationship dynamic shared between the two.
Understanding Two Individuals And One Relationship Dynamic
Isn’t it peculiar how God puts us with people, in our family contexts and at work, that prove irritating by the things they do or the way they do them? Could it be these challenges are object lessons in the waiting?
When someone is given to chewing loudly and we may be challenged for tolerance not to criticise, the opportunity is to grow in grace—beginning one moment at a time. I have found this a personal challenge even though, I, myself, have been known to be noisy eater! (Go figure.)
What may seem as easy challenges to overcome for others could be never harder for us; we are the way we are and the opportunity is to accept it without giving way to it.
Just the same, our partners have their own eccentricities to deal with, notwithstanding ours. So, it’s a four-way tolerance that is needed within one relationship dynamic: a portion of tolerance each for their own, as well as tolerance for the partner’s beneficence.
Tolerance is such a need in all relationships and, though it is simple in theory, it is actually quite hard to practice when we consider the way we naturally think is, to a large extent, set. We may not be able to change the way we think (or maybe to some degree we can) but we can resist acting in intolerant ways.
Notwithstanding habits of addiction, all partners in relationships have their quirks. So long as the habit is not problematic, it is each partner’s concern to exercise tolerance regarding those quirks. The goal is to move from annoyance and reach acceptance.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.