Dealing with your partner’s flaws

When we get to know someone very well, we also see their imperfections. For a healthy relationship, it’s important not to dwell on those negative thoughts.

‘I feel like Amy wanted people to believe she really was perfect. And as we got to be friends, I got to know her. And she wasn’t perfect. You know? She was brilliant and charming and all that, but she was also controlling and OCD and a drama queen and a bit of a liar. Which was fine by me. It just wasn’t fine by her. She got rid of me because I knew she wasn’t perfect…Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.’

Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl.

‘Truth is, there’s no such thing as the perfect partner, just as there’s no such thing as the perfect couple. (As the old joke goes, there are only two types of couples: those who have a wonderful relationship, and ACT with love 10 those whom you know really well.) But how hard is it to truly let go of this idea? How hard is it to stop comparing your partner to others? To stop fantasizing about the partner you could have had, or would have had, or should have had? Or about the partner you really did have, but for one reason or another it didn’t last? How hard is it to stop dwelling on your partner’s faults and flaws and shortcomings, and thinking about how life would be so much better if only your partner would change?

‘Answer: very hard indeed, for most normal human beings. But it doesn’t have to remain that way. Change is possible, if you want it. Let’s just take a moment to look at what it is costing you to get all caught up in these patterns of thinking. How much frustration, anger, and disappointment does it create for you? Of course, I’m not advocating that you let your partner do as she pleases, whenever she wants, without any consideration for you; that would not give rise to a healthy, vital relationship. What I am advocating is that you take an honest look at your own internalized beliefs about how your partner should behave and what your relationship should be like; notice all the negative judgments you make about your partner and your relationship; and notice how these thoughts affect you when you get caught up in them. Are they helping your relationship or harming it?’

Russ Harris. Act with Love.

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