This weeks Two Shoe Tuesdays prompt is aware. I spent the week thinking about what I would say about the word. Awareness is a pretty big subject and many topics came to mind.
And then I read this. Traits unhappy couples have in common.
The traits are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. There is an explanation of each in the article, along with credentials about the author to assure readers that the guy that came up with these is in fact knowledgeable.
What isn't said is how this doctor has done in his own relationships. When relationship advice is being given, I'm far more likely to listen if it comes from a couple that's been married for 40 years than if it comes from a doctor who has been divorced 9 times. Of course, they never tell us the relationship status of the experts.
The article starts out with a story. David Bakke got married in 2006 at the age of 45 and never thought he'd get divorced. We learn that the couple was happy until they got married, They started criticizing each other, though Dave doesn't give examples of how he criticized her, for things they didn't like about one another.
He was a saver, she was a spender. She wasn't clean enough for him in the kitchen or something. I gotta be honest here, I stopped paying attention when he said that these differences became an issue after marriage.
How the hell do you commit yourself to someone for life without knowing if they wash the dishes immediately after dinner or not? And if you did know, what kind of asshole do you have to be to then hold that trait against them? You married her, ya dumbshit.
Dave tells us that we'd be surprised how an unwillingness of a partner to change can destroy a relationship. This right here is why the divorce rate it so high. Dave doesn't say these things came as a surprise to him. He was aware of who she was. He just thought she should change to suit him.
My wife does things that make me crazy and I know, because she tells me, that I do things that make her nuts. But we don't try to change each other. I love her as is. I'm not in love with some idea of who I wish she'd be.
If you are looking to be happy in your relationship, accept your partner for who they are. It really is that simple. If who they are is unacceptable, leave. Don't try to change them, don't bitch to your friends about them, don't criticize them constantly for being who they are. Get your shit and go.
The time for this is before you declare your unwavering devotion and agree to be bound for life. Far too often, couples know they aren't compatible but get married anyway. And like Dave, they end up divorced and wondering how they got there. There is no mystery here, they were aware of who their partner was but went into it expecting their partner to change, then they act surprised when the person they were with is exactly who they seemed to be.
Marriage is hard enough when you want to be together. Do yourself a favor and either accept your partner for who they are or, if you can't, move on.
Following my own rules for advice here, I am married to the same woman I dated in high school. This year we will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. While there are times I'm sure she'd like to kill me, my being alive to write this is a testament to the fact that accepting the flaws of your partner is the secret to success.