Healthy Relationships: Correct vs Accept (Part 4 of 4)
Greetings. So in this four part series, the focus is on answering this question: Do you want to correct people or do you want to pursue accepting one another? In my last two posts, I focused on the unhealthy decision of pursuing to correct one another. In these next two posts, I want to focus on pursuing to accept one another.
When we accept one another, than we are saying that we are not out to correct, fix, or change the other person. We accept them just as they are and we also are asking and hoping the other person will love and accept us just as we are. In our most personal and important relationship we are not asking the other person to be our coach, our counselor, our mentor, our expert. We do not want the other person to take on a role we never asked them or hired them to take on coaching or counseling me on how to correct a mistake.
But you may be asking then this question: So am I to accept a personal friend or spouse who chooses habits or activities that hurt me? How do I deal with this? As an example, let me use the example of someone personal in your life who drinks.
So to accept someone is to accept that alcohol is a legal drink, that anyone can purchase any form of alcohol over 18 at any store that sells it, and that if someone chooses to drink this beverage, they are allowed to do this. Your spouse every day after work drops by the store and buys a 12 pack of beer. They come home and drink this 12 pack of beer every day and sits in front of the television or sits alone in the back yard or invites a friend over to drink with them.
Now you are asking the excellent question: Am I to accept this activity and pattern? What do I do if you are telling me that I am to accept one another and not correct one another if my spouse or friend drinks a 12 pack every day? How do I respond to this?
So for this example, let’s say the person who drinks is Bill and you are Sue. The challenge for Sue as a spouse is she needs to accept Bill, she needs to accept beer is legal, she needs to accept that Bill is thirsty and chooses beer as his drink of choice, and she need to accept the fact that Bill likes to drink and she need to accept that every day he does this. She needs to accept the problem, 12 pack of beer every day, and she needs to accept the person Bill every day.
The challenge and difficulty for all of us is to be reminded that we cannot correct a problem nor can we correct a person. So Sue cannot start correcting this beer drinking by trying to nag, yell, go into an angry rage, and have as her agenda that she is going to correct this problem by trying to fix or correct Bill from choosing another beverage other than beer. In addition, Sue cannot go into an agenda that she can fix, correct, or nag and go into a punishing mean position of trying to correct Bill by using harsh language that he is an alcoholic, that he is a problem drinker, that he needs to be corrected and go into an agenda to try to fix, correct and change Bill.
I wish I had a penny for every time I head a spouse say to me: The problem is him and he needs to be fixed, can you please fix him, because I have tried for ten years to fix and correct him but I can’t! Will you as a professional counselor correct and fix him please?
You see, what Sue needs to say to Bill is this: Honey, I love you and I accept you. I accept your choice to drink and I accept you as a person who drinks. But what I cannot accept is the money you spend on this 12 pack each day because now we don’t have enough money to pay the electric bill and the electric company is going to turn off our electricity this Friday. I also know that I accept and love you for better and for worse but when you drink, you change and you become mean and hurtful to me and the kids and the experience of being with you when you drink is hurtful to me. And then I find myself wanting to take the kids to the mall all night away from you.
Honey, is there any room for you to find a way for us to accept one another rather than try to change or fix one another? Is there any way that you could see how beer and you drinking beer affects me and how much it hurts me? Can we both find ways to understand and accept and decide together if drinking is something that we both want in this relationship knowing that beer has entered into our relationship and marriage and for me it is getting in the way of me having troubles accepting both beer and accepting you drinking beer?
The goal and the intention for Sue is to share her experience of beer and drinking and how this is affecting her without trying to correct and change Bill. We can never ever, ever, ever change or correct someone else. We can only change ourselves by asking the question how we all fill when we make a mistake and how can I change, if it bothers me that I do make a mistake, for the purpose of wanting correct a mistake I make. But when we switch from accepting someone to try to fix or correct someone, you are setting yourself up for doom and failure.
So, whatever person in your life, whatever problem or mistake they make, even if it is drinking, doing drugs, watching pornography, verbal abuse, or even physical abuse, you cannot change that person doing those activities. The goal is to accept both the person and the problem. But it does not mean you have to stay in the relationship or think you have to tolerate these hurtful behaviors. But if you think in your grandiose idea and agenda that you can correct, change, fix or solve these problems that I just listed above, or any other problems you want to add to this list, than you are setting yourself up for a life of unhappiness, a life of stress, a life of unhealthy patterns and a life of misery. That is the definition of codependency.
Accept the person and the problem but move away from the person and inform them you moving away is not because you hate them or not because you don’t accept them. But you are moving away from them because trying to fix, correct, or change them is not working and will never work. Sue needs to explain to Bill how his drinking affects her and invites him to work together on both people correcting this problem because beer and drinking affects both people in the relationship. Be a team member, not an angry correcting fixing changing spouse but someone who loves accepts the other person. Accepting someone and their problem does not mean you have to live with them but trying to correct them will never ever work. Thanks for reading.