One thing I have seen again and again in my work as a coach, my decades of dating before I met my husband, and in my now 14 years of marriage (Today is our anniversary! Hooray for us). Is that it’s the flip side of the things that initially draw us to someone that also drive us the crazy. It’s the yin and yang of life. The very thing that draws us to someone is also, the thing that repels us. Which leads us to the question “is your partner driving you nuts?”
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For example, my husband is an artist
Straight up, since he was in second grade when he drew a picture of King Kong on the blackboard for the class, this guy has been a maker of things. He is creative, and intuitive, and totally left-of-center in his thinking. (I don’t mean that politically. I just mean that he sees and thinks about things in a way that is different from how most people see and think about them.) And the night we met, his creative flair is precisely what drew me to him.
We met at a prom party, of all places, where you were supposed to dress as if you were going to prom. All the men at this party were playing it safe, wearing blazers and khaki pants. Which, IS NOT WHAT YOU WEAR TO PROM. My husband, on the other hand, was wearing truly the most hideous tux I had ever laid eyes on. He had a lavender ruffly shirt, an orange bow tie, and an ecru, brocade, double breasted jacket with black piping. And actual tux pants. It was like he had his peacock feathers out. And I noticed—and liked—him immediately. Once we started dating I loved hearing his point of view and how different it was from mine. I loved his creativity and how he lived life on his own terms.
Now, can you guess what things about him get on my nerves?
The flip side of all that creativity. His messiness. His love of starting new projects. (And not necessarily finishing the old ones). And, while most of the time I do feel we’re in sync, the times when he sees something so differently from me.
But guess what. I can’t be surprised or angry that I fell in love with an artist who is also messy and constantly has several projects in various states of completion going on. You don’t get to cherry pick your partner’s qualities.
HOWEVER, it really does help to remember that, when they are driving you crazy, it’s because it’s the other side of the coin of what you value in them the most.
Maybe your partner has a huge heart and you love how much they care about you and other people
You can’t judge them, then, that you find out they have been known to lend money to friends in need. You can absolutely talk to them about ways to support their friends that don’t threaten your mutual financial stability, but you can’t judge them for it. That’s them being who they are.
If you can understand where they’re coming from, and why they make the choices that they do, then the situation becomes workable. If you’re just sitting there thinking how stupid they are because they do this thing over and over again, well, that is not very workable, now is it?
I’m not saying that you’re just stuck with someone’s annoying habits
If it’s seriously impacting your quality of life, you can absolutely open a dialogue with them about how to find a happy medium, where they can retain who they are and you can get what you need—using the CRAWL method that I shared in the Relate, Don’t Manipulate episode that aired yesterday can absolutely help you do this. And if you need more support than that, so can couples counseling, which I believe everyone should do at some point in their relationship because we all need objectivity from time to time.
Is your partner driving you nuts? Then acknowledging that what drives you crazy is the flip side of what you most love about someone helps you find your way to acceptance, instead of resistance. When you accept something, it doesn’t mean you give up all hope of changing it. It just means you set down your judgment of it. That’s when you can see it more clearly. And, because our partners can pretty much always sense what we’re feeling even if we don’t see it, when you can set down your judgment of it, it helps them stop feeling defensive about it and resisting any requests—or, let’s face it, nags—from you to change it.
Acceptance shifts the dynamic and that’s when new possibilities start to make themselves known. I have found again and again that when I accept something I cannot change, that the energy around shifts so much that the thing that felt so intractable shifts all on its own. Maybe it’s just my perception, and not necessarily reality, but whatever; I’ll take it!
Is you partner driving you nuts? So, think about it, what is the flip side of the things you love about your partner that drive you crazy?
Can you lean a little harder in to the loving the things you love the most, and hopefully that will help your frustration with the flip side lessen? Can you accept them as a whole package, flip sides and all?
Because, here’s the thing—if there’s something about your partner that you’re finding it very difficult to accept, there’s probably something about you that you’re also struggling to accept as well. It’s very difficult for us to do for others what we can’t do for ourselves, deep down. Relationships are mirrors; they show us ourselves, flaws and all.
So the next time someone asks you “is your partner driving you nuts?”— I hope that seeing the flip side will help you uncover a new level of understanding and acceptance of your partner, and of yourself.
Come back tomorrow when I’m talking about how to keep your relationships strong even after disagreements and fights. There’s a secret ingredient that most of us are never taught that I’m excited to share with you tomorrow.