There is a way to be lovingly strict. I am referring to the boundaries and limits you set in relationships that send the message that you have needs which deserve to be respected.
We all have a desire to be loved and cared for. We have desires for sex and romance. We have other spiritual needs, etherial desires and worldly cravings. We often put all these sights into the partners that we seek. One potential outcome is allowing our partners to infiltrate so deeply into our lives, we give them the world, and, in turn, we lose sight of our inner worlds, our past lives, our needs, our desires, and eventually there is an imbalance.
The opposite extreme also exists, where I see nitpicking, nagging, constant annoyance and frustration at our partners because they are not who we want them to be. In this scenario, I strongly encourage people to accept their partners. Acceptance is at the core of all successful ,intimate relationships. Hard Work Ahead: Are Relationships Really Worthwhile?
I discourage long lists of expectations and/or changes which represent ideals of who their partner should or should not be. These ideals or shoulds can be quite detrimental not just to the relationship as a whole, but they can affect other areas of the relationship along the way, such as a couple's sex life. Ideals and should can sound like judgments and criticisms, and there is just no room for hostility in the bedroom. So, I recommend limiting our lists to two very specific items, and simply accept the rest. Acceptance conveys the message that we love our partners just the way they are. We admire them, look up to them, and we are still in love with them. If we find we cannot accept our partners most of the time, then it's time to look at ourselves.
But there is still the other side of acceptance. There is a detrimental aspect of acceptance, and that is when it allows for things like abuse, manipulation, and control to take over the relationship. Being too accepting of all things, especially when they risk harming someone, is where learning to draw the line becomes important. Having boundaries is key, and knowing what one's boundaries are is a good place to start. Some examples of behaviors that should be questioned include:
- drug and alcohol use and abuse,
- violence of any kind (this includes physical abuse),
- sexual abuse towards anyone, including spouse, pets, and children in particular.
Yes, there are some things we should not blindly accept. Accepting these often become like sweeping things under the rug — a giant Pink elephant in the room that everyone knows is there, but no one acknowledges or talks about. This is also sometimes known as denial (a concept that Sigmund Freud suggested was one of our coping mechanisms). Denying that there is a problem may often lead to trying to cover up the problem or fix the problem by accepting our partners behavior. I call this covering-up behavior enabling.