Hope based on the realistic expectation that something can or will change is a powerful, positive, driving force. It motivates us to do our best and helps us achieve what may seem impossible to others. But naive hope that’s grounded in wishful thinking can be deeply disappointing and even destructive. I (jcd) know a woman—I’ll call her Martha—who was hurt repeatedly by her father’s lack of interest in her. As long as Martha continued to hope he would change, she suffered a fresh wound whenever he missed an important family event or failed to consider her feelings. I urged Martha to realize that her father was emotionally blind—he was incapable of seeing her needs.
Once she began to accept his “handicap” as permanent, her pain lessened considerably. Your partner’s temperament or experiences may prevent him or her from fully comprehending your feelings and frustrations. My advice is that you change what can be altered, explain what can be understood, teach what can be learned, revise what can be improved, resolve what can be settled, and negotiate what is open to compromise.
Then determine to accept the rest. As you overlook these few “unresolvables” in your relationship, you’ll develop a perspective that brings realistic hope for an honest and satisfying marriage.
Just between us…
- What kinds of changes do we hope to see in each other? Are our hopes realistic?
- Would it help our relationship to accept our “unresolvables”?
- What in our marriage gives you the greatest sense of hope?
From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.