Blind Love Has No First Sight

Yesterday, we talked about whether or not marriage is for you. The audience was active in sharing what may have been missing from the original list of flags for a marriage destined for divorce. Laurie, of Dazed & Confused, brought up an interesting point.

You forgot to say that you should be with them long enough to figure out if you can continue to look at them each day without wanting to choke them. Behavior you can not abide by in the long term makes one unattractive no matter how cute they were when you met them.”

ancient roman marriage

Image via Wikipedia

Love At First Sight

Sue pointed out she knew she was destined to marry Grant (Yesterday, they celebrated 15 years.) the moment she met him. Kudos on keeping it together. But what happens when your first impression is a less than accurate depiction of your mate?

Myopia Sets In

After the initial pheromones wear off, you begin to notice behavior which rattles your beliefs, yanks your chain or outright makes you angry. Before you decide you can live with it, ask yourself some important questions:

  1. Am I tolerating this because I love Mate?
  2. Do I think I can change Mate’s behavior?
  3. Does Mate possess enough good qualities to overshadow this behavior?
  4. Will I grow less tolerant as the years go by?
  5. If I tell Mate I hate this, will the relationship end?

1. Am I tolerating this because I love Mate?

This is hard work. If you are willing to overlook bad behavior, you are endorsing it. When you see something wrong and say nothing, you tacitly give your permission and become complicit. Think of it this way, even though your mate is not your child (This is another segment altogether.):

If you say nothing to a child running toward the road and a car hits the child, you might as well have been driving the car.

Your mate probably has no idea the bad behavior is, well, bad. Mate had been doing this long before you came along. Either the people in Mate’s life do not think it is bad or they are tolerating it.

2. Do I think I can change Mate’s behavior?

Stop, right there. The only person’s behavior you can change is your own.  To expect Mate to change behavior for you leads down the wrong paths: Resentment and Doubt.


Image by Rickydavid via Flickr

Resentment: Have you ever done something someone asked you to do, but you did not want to do? Eventually, Mate will resent your asking for change. Mate has no desire to change. By taking your suggestion (pleading, nagging, griping) to change, Mate has to acknowledge the behavior was unacceptable. Resentment is shooting the messenger, but it happens.

Doubt: Mate thought you loved unconditionally. Now, you have placed a condition on your love. If Mate does X, the same X as before you came along, you are not going love him/er the innocent, touchy-feely, gushing way you did in the beginning. What else will Mate do to cause this love loss? Doubt is a powerful emotion, which erodes love.

3. Does Mate possess enough good qualities to overshadow this behavior?

You have decided to take the good with the bad. Good and bad.

Good: You are accepting Mate unconditionally. This is the basis to a healthy relationship. Love all of Mate.

Bad: Swallowing hurt feelings because Mate does not see or will not prevent behavior which makes you crazy (irate, sad, miserable) will make you resentful. (See #2.)

Compromise: Tell Mate about your feelings about the behavior. Stop there. Mate is an adult who needs to decide if continuing to practice X is worth making you crazy (irate, sad, miserable) and running the risk of exhausting your tolerance and patience.

4. Will I grow less tolerant as the years go by?

Forgiveness is even harder work. It requires the offending party to be remorseful. Mate is not remorseful if he continues X. Mate will never be remorseful if you have been silent about your feelings. If you have not, the answer to the question is an unequivocal “yes”. Think of it as bashing your head against a brick wall: The wall does not cave, but the skull does.

5. If I tell Mate I hate this, will the relationship end?

Communication and Design

Image by Alex Osterwalder via Flickr

No: Good. Talk to Mate. You may find a heartfelt apology, genuine remorse and a change which is only attributable to your admission and Mate’s commitment to you. If Mate is willing to step up to the plate and make a change for him/erself, you have just been awarded the open communication award.

Yes: The relationship is already over. You should be able to talk to your mate about anything. Absolutely, undeniably, no-holds-barred anything. Pointing out bad behavior is not condemning. It is merely a statement of actions and your feelings to those actions. If it is condemning, you need to reexamine how you speak to Mate.

Bottom Line

Accepting your mate for the person they are, warts and all, is the toughest thing you will ever be required to do in a relationship. When the communication lines are wide open, relationships do not test your tolerance, but do help strengthen your patience.


Image by thelampnyc via Flickr

But Not This

Remember, abuse is not bad behavior; it is a crime. Abuse should never be overlooked or accepted. You are too good a person to withstand abuse from anyone, especially your mate, someone you love and who should love you in return.

Without naming names, what is some bad behavior you tolerated and did it lead to change or the end of the relationship?


© Red Dwyer 2011
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  1. Seems I’m not that tolerant since I’m trying to get my third divorce……I’m probably just not made for marriage, I mean I require a grown man. Being treated like the maid, (they get paid), a human incubator (my child, my way, go have another one if you want to raise one more) or having to play mother to a grown man that should be well past the age of self sufficiency are all intolerable behavior. A refusal to help make those that enter my home respect my wishes and beliefs while they are in my home, well….they all spell the end. I would much rather be alone with a high electrified fence than spend time with those that shove their way down my throat for no other reason than ignorance.

    • Indeed, Laurie, I do not consider that intolerance. Instead, the behavior is abusive.

      And if you truly were not meant for marriage, you would not have already tried this many times. Marriage is in you, yet you have not found one in whom marriage resides on a similar plane as yours. If you talked to one of your exes, likely you would not agree as to the definition of marriage. I can see it in your words:

      “Being treated like the maid, (they get paid), a human incubator (my child, my way, go have another one if you want to raise one more) or having to play mother to a grown man that should be well past the age of self sufficiency”

      You already said it: You require a grown man. It may not seem like it now, but I am sure you will find him. Red.

      • Oh heavens, I already look like I’m starting a collection. Strangely I thought the collection would more valuable if I ever had the time to start one. The nicest memory of have of my 2nd husband is when he told me that I took better care of him and our daughter when I stayed home to care for them and let him worry about working to take care of the bills. He’s an idiot (and well aware I think he’s an idiot) but to his credit he never hesitated to work long hours in the hot sun to make sure we were taken care of. When I went back to work it seems I didn’t do all the things I used to do when I was home.

        Sadly I think the attitudes are were I am, I would call it the “land that time forgot for a reason.” It appears to be progressing with more stores, things to do and bigger highways but the attitudes are still over a hundred years old for the most part. The thing they forget is that a hundred years or more ago when the wife was home tending to everyone and everything her husband came in at the end of the day too tired to stand up after a long day of physical labor doing whatever was needed to provide for his family, then he’d catch one last wind to help her do something ignoring the protests that he just go relax………Makes me wonder if I’m going to have to start dating men old enough to be my grandfather or great grandfather to find that mythical grown man this day and age.

  2. Thanks Red, another Pastor Steve moment. As I previously said in my blog, as a Team, we have to( ABSOLUTELY MUST) be willing to sway in the wind. And , like an Oak tree, the limbs must start at the bottom( beginning) for the tree to be absolutely strong. If, like a mighty Pine, the limbs don’t begin until much later, a strong wind WILL snap it in two. And whoa to all the little saplings around this tree. Open communication is the perfect and ideal solution, however, it is the hardest compromise between 2 individual persons. We have to be open or it can never work. 15 years of practice and still searching for perfection. But like life, if we ever stop learning, face the facts, we’re dead. Long live love, imperfect as it may be. Thanks, Grant.

    • Love can be grand. There comes a time when love is not enough to hold the blinders on. The reason compromise is hard: Not everyone is equally willing to compromise.

      Some people see compromise as you seeing it their way. Others see compromise as giving up something of no value in order to get what they want. Still others come to the table with a genuine heart, open to the other’s needs and willing to do what it takes to make things work.

      Truly, the hard part is determining what level Mate is willing compromise and how Mate defines compromise. Red.

  3. James Parsons

     /  November 24, 2011

    I believe us as adults should be more open with our Mate. Put everything on a level playing field, where neither one has the advantage over the other.We need to know each others expectations from the get go. Thanks Red

    • In order to do that, one cannot sit idly by and wait for Mate to lay out the parameters of the marriage. In fact, before marriage, both need to be setting boundaries, moving lines and accommodating each other’s limitations, fears and needs. Red.

  4. This comes to my favorite saying, which I have said more than once;

    You do not have to love what I love. You have to love me enough to occasionally do what I need done without complaint.

    This includes:

    Making the bed when you are the last one out of it
    Doing your own dishes before I get home
    Doing the laundry (including putting it away please)
    Picking up after yourself
    Cleaning your own sink
    Putting down the toilet seat, really is it that difficult

    How hard can it be?

    • It absolutely is not difficult. It does, however, take the foresight and caring enough to discover what your partner wants. Methinks, you have hit upon the subject of another post, dear sister. Thanks for calling by, Red.

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