Note: We are currently in a series called “The List.” The list refers to a list of ways you can lose your marriage, and is based on information gleaned from over 20 years of counseling records and watching marriage fail.
Maybe you know the pain of not feeling accepted by someone. Nothing feels quite as lonely or demeaning as not feeling accepted by a person or a group of people.
Acceptance is not one of those things we typically talk about when it comes to marriage, but if your spouse doesn’t feel accepted by you, it can lead to the demise of the marriage.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT ACCEPTED
When I was a kid, I was not very good at sports. In fact, I was lousy at sports. I wasn’t very coordinated, I wasn’t very competitive, and I wasn’t very interested. I was more into art and music.
So, when they were choosing up sides for a game, I was always the last to be picked. And in all honesty, I wasn’t really picked. Some team just wound up being stuck with me.
To this day, I still remember the hurt and the embarrassment of not really being accepted.
Maybe you can think of a time when you didn’t feel accepted. Maybe…
- You were the new kid in school.
- You weren’t interested in the same things as everyone else.
- You looked or dressed differently.
- You didn’t speak the same language.
- You didn’t get the place or position you wanted.
No matter your age, you probably know the sting of not feeling accepted, and so you know why it’s so important to help others feel accepted…especially if that someone is your spouse.
You may be thinking, “My spouse feels accepted. I married them didn’t I?!” But there’s more to feeling accepted than just having someone on your team. Remember, as a kid, I wound up on a team, but I sure didn’t feel accepted.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL ACCEPTED?
Let me give you a simple definition of what it means to feel accepted. Acceptance is helping someone feel welcomed and wanted.
If someone doesn’t feel welcomed and wanted, they’re not going to feel accepted. And I can guarantee you that there are spouses out there that don’t feel that welcomed or wanted by their spouse. You may be one of them. Your spouse may be one of them.
HOW TO MAKE OTHERS FEEL ACCEPTED
It really is more simple than you think to help someone feel welcomed and wanted…to feel accepted. You can start with these three simple steps:
Greet Them Well.
If I come home from a hard day at work, and my wife grunts out “Oh, hey” and barely looks up from what she’s doing, it doesn’t do much for my mood or self-esteem. But if I come through the door after a long hard day and she looks up, breaks out a smile, and says, “I’m so glad you’re home!” My attitude takes an upswing for the rest of the night.
That’s the power of a simple greeting!
Do you greet your spouse as if they’re just another face in a sea of faces, or do you greet them as if you’re really glad to see them?
Treat Them Well.
This is the second way you can help your spouse feel accepted.
One reason your spouse was attracted to you in the first place is that you went out of your way to treat them well. You put them first, you deferred to the things they liked to do, you carefully watched your words and your attitude, you surprised them with things…in short, you treated them well.
Are you still treating them like that, or have you let those things slip? Are you still showing them how much you want them, or are you just taking them for granted?
Never stop treating them well, and they will never stop feeling appreciated.
Trust Them When Things Don’t Go Well.
This third step is so important because things will not always go well in your relationship. There will be times when you disagree and butt heads. There will be times of misinterpretation and missed expectations. And when these things happen, it’s really easy to convince yourself that the other person is intentionally being hurtful and malicious, and take it personally.
But just because you disagree and your emotions rise, it doesn’t mean that they’re out to get you or that they don’t want you. It just means you’re both fallible humans.
So give them the benefit of the doubt. Trust that despite the disagreement and emotions, they still love you and want you. It will make it easier for you both to continue to feel welcomed and wanted…even in the midst of difficult times.
A FINAL WORD…
I know this is a simple concept, but sometimes when something is that simple we just fail to think about it or do it.
Just because two people are married doesn’t mean they feel accepted. So work hard in your marriage (and your other relationships) to make sure people feel welcomed and wanted.
Because, if you do, not only will they feel accepted, they will reflect that acceptance back toward you.
And, if you don’t, it could eventually cause you to lose your marriage. Remember…IT’S ON THE LIST!