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Healthy Marriage: Are You Allowing Your Spouse to “Be?”

Think back to the day you were married.  How did you feel about your partner?  If you’re like many couples, you were possibly smitten, filled with exuberance and high on the love drugs being released in your bodies in the form of hormones and chemicals to secure the attachment and bond between you.  If asked for a list of the things you loved about him/her, it would have likely been long, flowery and even filled with some qualities you wish you had yourself.  You might even have thought that your differences were cute.

It’s no mistake people are often attracted to their opposite.  Funny how that becomes an irritant later on, that some of the things that attracted you to your lovely husband or wife are now the things that drive you up the wall.

What’s up with that?

It felt so good to partner up with someone who complimented you, who perhaps encouraged you to come out of your shell by their extroversion or to be more free spirited to counter your controlled way of walking through life.  And they wanted a little more of what you had.  Perfect, right?  No.  This is because some of the opposite qualities between partners that initially were found to be so delightful later on become a thorn in the side, the message to each other now being:

“Why can’t you be more like me?”

What often starts off as attraction to your opposite can end up wishing this wasn’t the case.

This is common and totally normal.  The things that we think are so wonderful can end up being annoying but what you want to avoid is getting into a nitpicking and critical stance towards your partner.

What would it be like if you allowed your spouse to “be?”

This is the person you married and you loved those things about them at one time.  Why is it fair to ask them to change now?  It’s really not.

If you find yourself easily annoyed at your spouse for their behavior, ask yourself if they’ve always been like this.  Were they this way when you married them?  What’s changed about you that it’s no longer OK?  Is this your issue – or theirs?

Couples who allow each other the space to “be” are inherently set up to be more at ease, comfortable in their own skin and with less shame.  Emotional safety is often higher as they have accepted each other.  They may still get irritated with each other’s behavior at times but pick their battles and leave out the issues around aspects of personality and who they each are fundamentally.

Real acceptance of each other is a powerful marriage strength.  Step back, breathe and allow each other to be who you are.

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of LoveAndLifeToolbox.com with tools for emotional and relationship health and is the author of Therapy-At-Home Workbooks® for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in CNN.com, HuffingtonPost.com, MensHealth.com and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers online therapy to residents of California.