Accepting Your Partner’s Limitations

No one is perfect. Everyone has their limitations. The question is what limitations can you accept and which ones can you not. In an ideal world, during the dating stages, you will have already screened out all potential suitors based on what limitations you can not accept. For example if you had a dog, and on the third date, you found out that he was allergic to dogs you would need to ask yourself the following question: if you got serious would you be willing to give your dog away. If the answer is yes, then you do nothing. If the answer is no then you would need to share with him that the dog comes first, and he would need to take allergy shots. If he knew that he was too allergic to dogs to even consider that option or he simply was not comfortable taking allergy shots then he might decide to end the relationship.

Unfortunately, life is not always so simple, sometimes it is only once you are deeply involved in a relationship that you become aware of someone’s true limitations. At that point, it is not so easy to walk away and you may need to learn how to accept someone’s limitations.

If you are struggling with learning how to accept a partner’s limitations try the following exercise:

  • Name your partner’s limitation (s). Name your partner’s strength (s). For example, his limitations are: He is skinny. He is socially awkward at parties. He can not stay up late at night. He has very few friends. His strengths are: he is a hard worker, he is always chipper in the morning. He always makes time for his wife.
  • When is your partner’s strength a limitation? And when is your partner’s limitation a strength? For example a limitation might be that she is too direct and her strength is that she states what she thinks. Her limitation might be that she is lactose intolerant and her strength is that she never eats your ice cream — thus more for you!
  • Which limitations that you have identified in your partner do you think are honestly fixable? For example if your husband is short, there is nothing he can do about it. In contrast, if he is overweight, he could eat less and exercise more. However, if he struggles with an eating disorder, his weight may not fully be in his control. Otherwise, he would not be suffering from an eating disorder.
  • What are your limitations and strengths?
  • Which limitations are fixable?
  • How do your limitations impact your partner’s limitations? You get upset easily, and your husband is insecure and always takes things personally.
  • How do your strengths impact your partner’s limitations? You have always taken care of your physical health. You eat three balanced meals a day and exercise regularly, thus you are able to model a healthy lifestyle for your partner who suffers from an eating disorder.

After you have answered all the questions, ask your partner to do the same thing. Now compare and contrast your answers. Do your two lists match? Usually there will be some slight differences. Often couples do not agree upon what is a strength and what is a limitation. Now, together talk about which strengths and weaknesses are most important to each of you, and why. Of the limitations that you decided were important to you, how changeable are they? Together, can the two of you develop a strategy of change.