Thanks, Kate Stewart, for that quote.
No one is perfect. Shooting for perfection takes too much time and energy away from your life. Do things very well; care and work hard, maybe even go above and beyond–to a point. Stop short of perfection and enjoy life. (Ask yourself what is underneath seeking perfection. Was it expected of you growing up? Did you watch your parents try to be perfect? Are you worried about your education/career? Seeking perfection may be a good cover for feeling anxious or lacking confidence in yourself–it’s likely related to needing to be–or at least feel–in control. Once you address the underlying issue(s), you can manage your life better.)
While you’re busy not-being-perfect, also don’t be too big of a pain in your beloved’s ass, or anyone else’s. Yes, you have to take/make time to self-reflect. You deserve that time for understanding and improving certain behaviors, and to feel at peace with yourself.
Gottman’s ratio of 5:1 good interactions to poor ones is worth keeping in mind. Again, that’s 80%, not perfect.
If you are looking around and comparing your relationship to others’ relationships, please know two things:
- No matter what you see/hear of another’s relationship, you aren’t inside there to truly know. Most people hide their couple issues. I hope you’ll open to trusted friends of your marriage.
- There is no “right” way to have a relationship. What works for the two of you–when done with a truthful good heart–is right for you.
Enjoy each others’ quirks. Find ways to understand your honey’s quirks as part of what makes up who s/he is; who you love and cherish. For example, my husband is very particular in the way/place his tools are put away after a project. I realized early on that is one of his quirks; it doesn’t say anything about me or my competence or abilities. I carry tools over near his truck and set them down. I’ve helped, and he is free to indulge this quirk!
Here are four ways you might respond to your beloved’s quirks:
- Sit back, watch, enjoy, and smile at his/her quirk (kindly, not smugly).
- Ask good curiosity questions so you better understand it.
- Make a demand.
Please choose number one or two!
On to the refuse to give up portion. Please note: if you are in an abusive relationship, work to see if there is any way healthy change can happen (that choice has to be made and implemented by the partner who is abusing). If so, make sure you are safe and you may ask for change of behavior. If change can happen, maybe you’ll stay. If not, you didn’t take vows to be abused.
If you are in a relatively healthy relationship where a few–or a lot–of things have gone or are going off the rails, be willing to work, be vulnerable, learn new tools and skills, grow both personally and interpersonally. Life is full of curveballs. Limber up!
The couples I’ve seen who have gotten the most out of therapy fall into the “We’re not giving up no matter what” category.
And maybe, most of all, make time to enjoy one another; get out of the minutiae of everyday life and see who is before you in all his/her glory and quirkiness.