Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

couple-1030744_1920Everyone makes mistakes and has issues. We all have imperfections that come out in our intimate relationships. But how you think about your partner and his or her flaws really matters. It can make the difference between a happy and unhappy relationship.

Acceptance of another person requires you to recognize their short-comings but love them anyway. This is also true in intimate relationships. The danger comes when you see your partner’s flaws and begin to wish they were someone else. And that longing for a “better” person is dangerous to your happiness.

Here is an example, let’s say your partner is very forgetful unless he writes things down. You ask him to stop and pick up the dry cleaning on the way home. He walks in the door with no dry cleaning. How do you think about that? If you think,”He’s a jerk for not doing what I asked, OR “He can’t do anything right like remember a simple thing,” your happiness is in trouble. The reason is that you have assigned him traits of a bad person. Your love and feelings now depend on him performing the way you wish. And when those disappointments become a representation of an uncaring or insensitive person, it begins to erode your relationship happiness. You will look for reasons to be disappointed in him and reinforce negative thoughts. Negative thoughts come because you assign negative attributes to your partner. Then it is easy to think, “I would be so much happier with someone who isn’t so self-centered or is more caring.” The other person then becomes the source of your unhappiness.

If, however, you think your partner is a genuinely good person who has this issue of forgetting, you will feel very differently. You don’t attribute negative motives to your partner. It is not a character flaw, rather something he needs to work on to get better at remembering. If you are maintain a positive attitude by believing your partner is a decent, good person and trying to grow in the relationship, your happiness will remain. You cut them some slack and give them grace. The reason this is an important way to think is because it stops you from beginning to feel negative about the person. Your belief that they are trying to do the right thing and then giving them the benefit of the doubt keeps the positivity going. When your partner falls short of your expectation, you problems-solve rather than allowing this disappointment to erode the relationship.

This may seem like a small point–to stay positive and not attribute mistakes or flaws to character problems, but it is one of the ways to prevent divorce. You don’t want negativity to override your feelings about your partner, so you have to be proactive to prevent this. One way to be proactive and stay happy is to continue to stay positive about your partner’s imperfections.