Joe Beam, Ph.D.
Happy marriage secrets
What are the secrets to a happy marriage? On national television, I’ve had radio interviewers ask me if the most important thing about a marriage is communication. My response is that it is important, but it’s not the most important. They then, usually guess that conflict resolution is the most important. While it’s true that both of those aspects of marriage are very important, they are not the most important. The secret to a happy marriage, the most important dimension of love is acceptance. We all have this brick wall that we have painted in front of us. On one side of the wall we are who we really are. On the other side we’ve painted pictures of how we want other people to see us.
Maybe one picture of us at school, another picture at work, another picture in social situations, another picture at church, and so on. And we paint those pictures because we know that’s how people will accept us. So, we leave the wall up and don’t take those bricks off, because we fear rejection. But every one of us wants to be loved for who we are. Couples in a happy marriage have that kind of acceptance and love.
So, if you can learn in marriage to be able to accept the other person as he or she is, your spouse can start trusting you enough to take down a brick and then another brick and then another brick. It may take a lifetime, but if you take the bricks down one at a time and the wall is gone, you show your spouse that you love and accept them for who they truly are. It is literally impossible to love somebody completely if you don’t accept who they are. (The same rule applies for loving yourself, as well.) So, the most important this in a happy marriage is learning how to accept a person for who they are and not who they pretend to be.
The question then arises about how to accept a person for who they are and not condone their bad behaviors. If you love and accept people for who they are, does that mean that you have to accept their negative issues, such as alcoholism or porn addiction? The answer is this: Accepting a person for who he or she is does not necessarily mean condoning everything that a person does. There are ways that communicating and conflict resolution play a part in a relationship, and that is where they come in.
Working together to change and grow is part of a healthy and happy marriage relationship. Unconditional love is the most important precious gift that you can give. Carl Rogers, the great philosopher in psychology said, “When I accept myself just as I am, then I change.” The same can be applied to others saying, “When I accept others as they are, they change.”
Don’t underestimate the power of love’s acceptance. It can change lives for the better, and it sure can lead to your happy marriage!
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