Before you blame your husband for all the mistakes in your marriage, maybe look at yourself first.
By Laura Lifshitz — Last updated on Jul 04, 2023
Photo: BGStock72 / Shutterstock
When I first started reading Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love by Andrea Miller, founder of YourTango, I thought to myself, “What the heck is radical acceptance?”
Well, essentially, Radical Acceptance means accepting your partner for who he or she is — and accepting yourself for who you are. It’s identifying your partner’s unlovable traits and loving him or her anyway. It’s committing to love that person, despite your own hang-ups or insecurities.
It doesn’t mean you should accept abuse or huge glaring red flag behavior, but that in order to be loved, you need to love fully. Love that person for the good, bad, and the ugly. That means that even when your husband is annoying as hell, you’ve got to love him still.
Here are 9 ways to radically accept your husband — even when he annoys you:
1. Breathe deep and stop
Miller reminds us all of a crucial life skill. Before reacting, breathe and stop. Think about what you’re going to say to your hubby about that pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Is it another diatribe about how sloppy and unhelpful he is? He may indeed be a pigsty, but he may also be an amazing cook and an amazing dad.
Why are you really about to yell? Is it that you had a bad day at work and you can’t take doing another thing? Or are you truly disturbed by the dishes? Breathe and stop. Waiting to react can really save an unnecessary fight from happening.
2. Count to ten
While this isn’t directly in the book, it’s a step off from taking that moment to stop. There can be a lot of damage done by a few words. Counting to ten before you comment about your husband’s friends or tendency to work late can help you.
3. Reflect on it
So, your husband’s tendency to ramble when you two are out socializing can be a little annoying to everyone. But before you whisper to him, “Can you stop talking now?” take a second to think.
Reflect on why this is bothering you. Does his behavior remind you of your dad or old boyfriend, who never let you get a word in edgewise? Are you too worried about what others think and, therefore, you want to micro-manage your husband’s chatter so you’re not thought poorly of? This skill can be used in any situation. If your husband is snapping at you and you want to snap back, reflect on why he’s snapping at you.
What is the bigger picture? Where do your feelings start to muddy up what’s happening or obscure why your husband might be behaving poorly or being annoying?
This doesn’t mean you give him a round of applause when he’s a jerk, but that you reflect on what his behavior is triggering in you and what triggered his behavior. Maybe you hurt his feelings this morning or his boss gave him a hard time. Maybe he chatters on like he’s on cocaine at social events because he’s nervous. Maybe you’re upset that he’s talking so much because you feel you don’t have much to add to the conversation.
4. Think like an outsider
If an outsider saw what was happening, would he or she find your husband’s behavior so atrocious? So annoying? Or would this person chalk it off to him having a bad day or you simply having issues? Pretend you’re not in the interaction. It’s hard. Radically accepting someone isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
5. Be introspective
Now it’s time to ask yourself, “What the heck is causing me to be so disturbed or upset by my husband?” This is when you call on yourself — in all your uncomfortable, vulnerable glory — to share what is really bothering you. It could be anything — something from your past or perhaps a trigger from an old fight you two had before.
For example, maybe you’re upset because he went out with his friends and came home much later than he said he would. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he’s home later and you’re angry. Is this because a former partner cheated on you, coming home late, and making excuses? Are you mad because it’s been a while since you’ve had a girls’ night and you wish you got to go out like he does?
Time after time, you’ve never told him how you feel. Radically accepting someone means radically accepting yourself. The things that bother you. The insecurities that run deep.
6. Stop pointing the finger
The blame game. We’ve all played it. Let’s face it: when we can point the finger at our partner and not ourselves, it feels good to be absolved, doesn’t it? Well, sure it does, but it doesn’t help our relationships and marriages. Not in the least. What good is it pointing to someone and saying, “You’re wrong”?
Yes, there are exceptions to this — like if someone hits you or cheats on you — but for the daily fight, pointing fingers only builds up resentment. Not only that but if you want to radically accept and truly love your husband, maybe you ought to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Stop pointing that finger so quickly. Usually, when we do so, we do it with a righteousness that doesn’t often belong there. Again, this doesn’t mean accepting poor choices from someone, but that you shouldn’t be so quick to be high and mighty. Resentment is an easy way to ruin your marriage.
7. Give him the benefit of the doubt
Before deciding that your sloppy husband intentionally left you the dishes or did X, Y, and Z because he’s a jerk, a bad husband, or doesn’t love you, try to first consider situational factors for his behaviors. When you’re doing this, you’ll see that you’re taking the time to think and not just react. This is a good thing. If you’ve gotten this far, give yourself a high-five and a gold star.
8. Let go of control
When you’re getting annoyed at your fashion-challenged husband or how often he needs to see his family, ask yourself if your angry or upset reaction is just a control tactic. Are you simply trying to get him to behave exactly as you see fit? And if so, why? Does this help you feel as if you are in charge of every situation? Does it help you feel more at ease and less anxious?
Control and power dynamics come up a lot in marriages. Perhaps your annoyed reaction is another way to control his behavior rather than think about why you’re upset in the first place.
9. Repeat a mantra
When your husband is driving you nuts, instead of shipping him off to another country with a “no return address,” repeat a little mantra to yourself as a reminder to:
Accept him. Just love him and if you can’t, divorce him.Think before you react. Ask yourself why you’re getting so upset.Give him the benefit of the doubt first.
Radical acceptance is a little radical, and that’s okay. But doing the same thing hasn’t gotten you so far now, has it? So instead of repeating old mistakes, try this. It may seem hard at first, but eventually, with practice, it won’t be as tough.
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Laura Lifshitz is a former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate currently writing about divorce, sex, women’s issues, fitness, parenting, and marriage. Her work has been featured on YourTango, New York Times, DivorceForce, Women’s Health, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, and more.