What is acceptance?
Acceptance is about valuing your partner’s differences. It’s about being flexible, tolerant and open-minded. It’s also about knowing how to compromise, understanding that we all make mistakes, and being ready to forgive.
Acceptance doesn’t mean always agreeing with your partner – it’s OK to agree to disagree. But it does mean believing that your partner is trying to do the right thing.
Acceptance isn’t about tolerating harmful behaviour. If you’re in a relationship that involves family violence, call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Why acceptance is important in your relationship with your partner
Acceptance helps to keep your relationship healthy.
That’s because acceptance makes it easier to appreciate the good things about your partner and your relationship, leading you towards greater intimacy and care for each other.
When you and your partner feel accepted, you’re more willing to listen to and understand each other’s perspectives and suggestions. This can strengthen your relationship, and it can also make it easier for you and your partner to work as a parenting team.
All of this means acceptance creates a healthier, happier and more positive environment for the whole family. Raising children in this kind of environment is good for their development and can help them thrive.
Tips for strengthening acceptance
Spend time on your relationship
- Spend time together on shared interests.
- Ask about your partner’s interests and activities and join in when you can.
- Do things to show your partner your love and appreciation. It could be as simple as letting your partner have a sleep-in while you look after the children.
- Think of activities you did together when you first met. Consider what you liked and how you might do those activities together again.
- Talk with your partner about happy times you’ve had together.
Read more about healthy relationships for parents and partners.
Focus on solving problems
- If you have a problem, think about what you want to change.
- Invite your partner to help solve the problem, without blaming or talking about what your partner should or shouldn’t have done.
- Identify positive ways you can solve the problem, even if your partner doesn’t participate.
- Get help from others if you need to.
Read more about problem-solving with your partner.
Be generous with your understanding
- When you’re talking and listening with your partner, remember that it can sometimes be difficult to explain what you want and how you feel to someone else.
- Encourage your partner to open up by asking open-ended questions and not interrupting.
- Ask your partner to explain or give more information if you don’t understand what they’re saying.
- Listen, without defending your own position or behaviour.
- Acknowledge your partner’s point of view even if you don’t agree. For example, ‘I can understand why you’re angry that I asked my parents to stay for the weekend without talking to you first’.
- Avoid jumping to conclusions, blaming or criticising your partner.
- Assume the best in your partner – for example, ‘I know that you’re working long hours because you want to take care of us’.
When you feel well and healthy, you’re likely to have more energy for other people, including your partner. That’s why looking after yourself is important in a healthy relationship. It’s good to make time for enough rest, exercise and things you enjoy, as an individual and a couple.
If you and your partner are finding it hard to accept each other’s differences or you’re concerned about your behaviour or your partner’s behaviour, it’s important to get help.
Relationship counsellors can help you and your partner identify your issues and what to do about them. You could try the following options:
- Call Relationships Australia in your state or territory on 1300 364 277.
- Call Family Relationships Online on 1800 050 321.
- See your GP to talk things through and get a referral to a psychologist or relationship or family counselling service.
- Find a psychologist or counselling service through the Australian Psychology Society, Australian Counselling Association or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.
It’s good for you and your partner to get help as a couple. But if your partner isn’t interested, it’s still worth seeking support by yourself.