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The world in which we live and work is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations.” Earl Nightingale
I think it was in 1985 that Pam and I completed our one session of premarital counseling. Yes, one session and yet we both remember a single line of advice offered by our therapist: “One powerful key to a successful marriage is “the ability to withhold judgment.”
However, I think that is one of those “says easy” but “does hard” statements. It makes perfect sense until you realize that you have been seriously judging people your entire life. We are “expectation-oriented” creatures. We secretly (and most often unknowingly) hold expectations of every person we know or meet. And when they inevitably fail to meet our expectations, we quite naturally make some judgment of that person.
In essence, we want life to go the way WE desire. And that just does not work because everybody feels the same, only with differing expectations.
Expect Less from Others
For years Pam and I only paid partial attention to the advice given us in premarital counseling. At times, each of us held nearly impossible expectations of the other. So, we did the common marital thing: we argued, sometimes frequently because we were habitually judging each other’s behaviors and opinions.
But after more than thirty years of marriage Pam and I have finally implemented the sage’s advice. We have learned to live largely in the lands of “acceptance” and “withholding judgment.”
Evaluate Your Expectations
To do so requires that I regularly review whatever expectations I may have of my wife. I have found the most effective method is to harbor very few expectations at all. The only expectations that matter are how we treat each other. Therefore kindness, understanding, open-mindedness, and respect comes to mind.
In other words… be nice! And then watch the results.
When We Withhold Judgment
We Can Expect Little and Accept Much
Photo courtesy of Maria Vonotna at istockphoto