Acceptance; not Arguments

Sometimes Boyfriend drives me nuts.  He can be incredibly self-centered and exercises little consideration for others.

I could condemn his parents for paying too much attention to him as a child.  I could blame the stars for aligning the way they did when he was born.  I could fault the bully who gave him the concussion which may have altered his personality.  I could complain until the cows come home.

But that wouldn’t change anything.  And I love him anyway.  In loving him, I remind myself on a regular basis that Boyfriend isn’t out to get me.  He isn’t purposely trying to hurt me.  His intentions aren’t malicious.  He’s just wired differently than me. And that’s OK.  It’s something I have to accept.

I’ve encountered the term “accept” (or some form of it) quite frequently when studying Buddhism.  The Buddhists say that when you replace “resistance” with “acceptance”, you’re somewhat closer to enlightenment. (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it)

“Acceptance” comes easily when the conditions we face are aligned with our desires.  Example:  “It’s raining outside, and that’s OK because I’m planning to watch movies in my PJs all day.”

“Acceptance” is much more difficult when the conditions conflict with our desires.  Example:  “It’s raining outside, and that sucks because I was planning a picnic in the park.  Dammit!!!”

Same rain; different attitudes toward it.  Actually, this relates back to that quote “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Shakespeare)

But back to the A-word and how it relates to the D-word… When divorcing, couples tend to rage against each other’s perceived faults.  Precious energy is spent on screaming matches, furiously-typed emails and scathing text messages:

“You’re selfish!”
“You’re such a workaholic!”
“You’re lazy!”
“You talk too much!”
“You dress like bum!”
“You’re a perfectionist!”

Blame is assigned, defenses are employed, feelings get hurt, children get confused… and what does it accomplish?

A better strategy* for separating couples is to take a good look at their previous partner/co-parent (and oneself) and accept the way he/she is.  Accept that we can’t change other people, we can only be responsible for our own actions.  Then move forward with a game plan for navigating the territory:  If he is forgetful, send him a reminder when the kids have special events.  If she craves a lot of details, keep a journal about what/when the children ate/played/etc and pass it on at Transition Time.  Most importantly, don’t use these quirks as “evidence” as to why one parent is superior to the other.  We all have areas where we fall short of perfection.  It’s a fact we need to accept.  Then move forward.

*Please note: This suggested strategy is a general guideline and may not be in the best interest of individuals dealing with personality disorders or abusive situations.

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6 comments on “Acceptance; not Arguments

  1. Heather H says:

    Acceptance is key and so is flexibility. Positive co-parenting is possible and it occurs when both parents leave their egos at the door and put their kids needs first. When my ex-husband first left me, I would remind myself daily that I choose to marry him and that I choose to have kids with him. I needed to respect his role as my children’s father even if I didn’t respect him at the time. Taking that attitude allowed me to be civil with him for the kids’ sake and that evolved into a very positive co-parenting relationship. Now that I am remarried, I can see also that a positive co-parenting relationship not only benefits the children but it also benefits your marriage and your spouse. I don’t harbor any bitterness or anger towards my ex-husband. Therefore, my husband doesn’t have to deal with any of that baggage.

    Accept that what you cannot change. Manage your expectations. Press on.

    Good words of wisdom shared. As always. Thanks:)

  2. Mandy says:

    I have a slightly different take on this … you say, if your ex is forgetful, send him reminders. I say no. I have enough to do. Acceptance doesn’t mean doing what you can to make them do what is important to you. Yes, it’s important to me to be at special events and to be on time but it’s not my responsibility to make sure my ex is. I do make sure he has the information – I put it all on a shared google calendar but if he can’t check the calendar and arrange his schedule so he can be there, so be it. He then has to accept the consequences and explain to the children why he missed their event. I’ve accepted his forgetfulness – it no longer bothers me if he doesn’t show up. I know what he’s like so manage the children’s schedules so I don’t need him to share transportation duties – he forgets and that upsets them and used to put me in a bind because guess who they would call when he didn’t show it?

    There’s a difference between acceptance and facilitating poor behavior.

    • Thanks, Mandy. You bring up a good point about going too far and, essentially “carrying” the other parent. And you’re absolutely right about that. I think in your case, the shared Google calendar (a fantastic invention for co-parents) is a perfect tool in dealing with a forgetful parent. You’ve done your part by communicating the information in a documented fashion- the kids important events remain in a central location. And Google calendars do have a reminder feature, if a person wants to request it. This is a MUCH better example for the point I was trying to make.

  3. […] Evolutions, (formerly titled the Divorce Encouragist) – Acceptance; not Arguments – you couldn’t get your ex to do what you wanted when you were married, now […]

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