Ask yourself if you can accept your partner exactly as they are right now, what if they never change?
We cannot change another person. People are most certainly capable of changing themselves, but that is an inside job.
As Carl Rogers famously said, The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I can change.
SO knowing that we cannot change ourselves until we fully accept ourselves, doesn’t it seem reasonable that the same would hold true for other areas of our lives- our finances, our state of health, our relationships, and of course our partners.
We cannot fix a situation that we have not identified. To identify a situation it is necessary to accept that the situation exists. Otherwise, we are dealing with wishful thinking and illusion rather than reality.
Imagine the feeling of knowing, overtly or not, that you are somehow missing the mark, that your partner consistently hopes for a new, desired behavior, and anything short of that is letting them down.
That is not an environment of growth or change. It breeds an atmosphere of self-consciousness, unworthiness, disappointment, and resentment begins to take place.
Asking this question helps to clarify whether we love the person, the idea of the relationship, or an ideal version of your partner.
Remember that relationships are a dynamic, both parties are participating, even when we think “If only SHE would…” or “If HE could just be more...”
Accepting the other exactly as they are doesn’t mean you like it, you want it to stay that way forever, that its good or bad. Accepting just means that you acknowledge WHAT IS. Without trying to encourage more of it, without trying to change it. Then the question becomes, can I love this person exactly as they are.
Once that question is answered the real work can be done. If the answer is no, then we have discovered something about ourselves. We are not being realistic, we are perhaps loving some version of this person we used to know, or some ideal version of this person that we have projected onto them. We may be trying to feed a part of our own inadequacies and this person makes us look better, or feel more important. So we can now accept the idea that we have work to do in order to accept who we ourselves are, and what we really need, want, and have to offer another.
If the answer is yes, I can accept this person just as they are, with the realization that they may never change, then you have the opportunity to explore what that means for you and your heart.
Perhaps your partner is not attentive enough, not emotionally open or available, not as sociable, not as light-hearted as you would like. Perhaps that never changes. What does that reality bring up for you? What do you feel like you are missing as a result of this? That is an opportunity for personal awareness and acceptance that you can own and tend to. You no longer have to put the responsibility on your partner to “fix” this feeling for you. Can you see how freeing that can be for you? Your partner? The relationship?
When you no longer feel like the other has to fix your hurts, you can enjoy the wanting. Wanting to be there for each other rather than needing and feeling obligated to one another.