17 years ago when they were just newlyweds, Adam might not have even noticed that his wife Sharon was crunching way too loudly on potato chips but on this night (and many other nights recently), this very loud crunching was something he almost couldn’t tolerate.
Sharon would feel his anger and judgment at these times and found herself pulling away from him more and more.
So many people over the years have come to us when the wheels were about to fall off their relationship.
The love was almost completely covered over by too much time spent focusing on what was wrong instead of what was right and they were neck deep in “tolerating each other” instead of loving one another.
So, it didn’t come as a surprise that Adam and Sharon’s relationship wasn’t as close, connected or as loving as it used to be.
Tolerance in relationships instead of loving can do that to couples who really care about one other.
So, what’s the answer?
What do you do when your partner is driving you crazy and they’re intent on continuing some (or maybe many) behaviors that are hard for you to tolerate?
It’s probably not the advice you might expect…
But the short answer is don’t do anything.
Find that place within you where love is always there and wait.
Wait for the love, peace, clarity, understanding and desire to rise up and allow any thoughts about “tolerating” to fade into the background.
A lot of relationship articles suggest that the path to a happy, long-lasting relationship is to learn how to tolerate one another.
We say differently…
The problem with “being tolerant” or tolerance in relationships is there’s no space for the love to shine through in those moments.
When you tolerate a person’s behavior or a situation, it’s usually a tight, teeth-gritting experience where you are ignoring what’s inside you and your truth usually to keep the peace.
Are we suggesting that you say what’s running through your mind (or maybe screaming inside you) no matter what?
Not at all!
We’ve found that when you allow yourself to settle, your real truth comes bubbling up and you’ll see your right course of action and if there’s anything to do.
When some ease and clarity seep in so does love.
Back to Adam and Sharon…
The next time they were sitting on the couch watching tv and Sharon was crunching chips very loudly, Adam went to the bathroom to allow himself to settle.
As he settled, he realized that he really loved and cared about Sharon. He saw that what was really bothering him was that he was afraid of losing her because of her poor diet and health. Her blood pressure had been high lately and he knew that her diet was contributing to that.
He decided it was time to talk with her about his concerns and to tell her that he loved her and wanted to be with her for many years to come.
Sharon was at first angry but then she was touched by his expression of love and caring. She admitted that her mindless eating was causing her problems and that she’d investigate some healthier snacks and maybe look at hiring a coach to help her make healthier choices.
Do you always have to voice your concerns if you’re tolerating a situation or behavior?
No, of course not.
The point is to allow those thoughts and irritations that you are tolerating to settle so the love can come through. Then you’ll know what’s next.
Tolerance in relationships isn’t the path to a better relationship. Love is.