By: Dr. Myrna Sarowitz
Usually, in the beginning, when we “fall in love” we only see our beloved’s good traits. We want to spend all of our time with him or her. We delight in each other’s company. Then we get married and reality begins to set in. What we used to love about our beloved becomes a most irritating trait.
For example, your boyfriend/girlfriend is fun loving and spontaneous. They love to have fun. You have fun together. As the years pass, you get irritated because this person doesn’t plan ahead. They are so disorganized. And, possibly, you like order and neatness, and predictability. So you begin your list in your head. If only he/she could be organized and neat. If only he/she would be the way I want him/her to be. If only they would be more like me! Your list of judgments has begun.
As the years go by, your list of judgments turns into anger. Your anger turns into resentments. You make nasty remarks to your spouse. You expect him/her to change. But, wait a minute, didn’t you marry this person because they were spontaneous and fun loving? As your resentments grow you grow further away from your loved one. You can’t understand how this person doesn’t see your point of view. After all, aren’t you right? We forget, the purpose of a relationship is not to be right, but to be loving. I challenge you if you are married or in a long-term relationship, to sit down by yourself and be honest. Write all the resentments you have against your spouse. Now, here comes the hard part. Again, rigorous honesty is the only method that will work. Next to each resentment, write how you may have hurt your spouse. Even if your spouse has hurt you, you are only taking your own inventory.
Now think about ways you can change your own behavior. For example, let’s say you have nagged him or her to clean up their piles and put them away neatly.What can you do instead of nagging? You could ask only one time and tell your spouse how helpful that would be to you, and that you need their help.
Now, here comes the hard part. Do not ask again and again and again. Remember the only person you can change is yourself.
Finally, write down all of your spouse’s good points. Are they hard workers? Are they good parents? Then in your mind, dwell on the good points. Whatever we focus on grows. As we focus on the good in our spouse our attitude begins to change. Again, be honest, only write down the good points that are true.
And add one more thing. Begin to say thank you when your spouse does anything to please you. Get into the habit of saying thank you. The rewards to you are greater peace of mind, and the ability to be more loving. When we are more loving we become happier people. That is because we were created to be loving creatures. Each and every one of us was created by God and has a piece of God inside of us. When we remove our resentments we become our authentic selves, as we were created to be.