I was a first time bride at 44. I had never even lived with anybody. And after running my own business for many years, I knew how to be the boss—but I had no idea how to be a good partner.
One day early in our marriage, I found myself standing in front of my husband, Brian, with my left hand on my hip and my right index finger in his face ragging on him about something (I can no longer remember what it was). I was appalled. I thought to myself, how did I become that woman?
I stopped. I said to him: “The next time this happens, and unfortunately there will be a next time, could you kindly, sweetly say to me, when did Sheila arrive?”
Sheila is my mother. I love her to death. She’s the coolest woman I know but she can also be a bit overbearing and bossy. Brian instantly got it and said, “Yes, and the next time I get too patronizing, just say to me “Hello Wayne!” That was his Dad.
Instantly, we avoided what could have been a World War III meltdown by creating playful code names to lighten up and have fun with. And, over the years, as conflicts large and small emerged—as they inevitably do in all relationships—we found creative ways to shift our perception. Eventually I gave this practice a name: Wabi Sabi Love.
Wabi Sabi is an ancient Japanese aesthetic that honors all things old, worn, weathered, imperfect, and impermanent.. It seeks to find “beauty and perfection in the imperfections.”
For instance, if you had a large vase with a big crack down the middle of it, a Japanese art museum would put the vase on a pedestal and shine a spotlight on the crack!
Why would you take the time to learn how to apply Wabi Sabi Love to your relationship? Because 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second marriages, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce! We aren’t born with the innate knowledge of how to “do” relationship. Even worse, we’ve been brainwashed by modern day society to look for and seek perfection, which leads to an ongoing state of frustration and dissatisfaction. I believe the word “perfection” should be changed to “pure fiction”—it’s just not possible! Seeking perfection just ends up creating ridiculous amounts of stress and disappointment.
By learning and practicing Wabi Sabi Love, you begin to accept the flaws, imperfections, and limitations—as well as the gifts and blessings—that form your shared history as a couple. Acceptance and its counterpart, understanding, are crucial to achieving relationship harmony. It is sacred love, the highest form of love, and like most things worth striving for in life, it requires patience, commitment, personal responsibility, and practice. Imagine how great you will feel when you know your partner loves all of you, all the time. The good, the bad, and everything in between!
One of the fastest ways to begin to apply Wabi Sabi Love is to realize that no matter what crazy-making thing your partner is doing, they did not wake up with the thought, “I plan to drive my spouse insane today.” Just like you, your partner wants to be loved for who they are, in spite of their shortcomings. Make an effort to let them know they are loved, even if some of their behavior is not. Work towards co-creative solutions.
The simple act of being willing to find the beauty and perfection in our own imperfections—especially the imperfections, quirks and weirdness of your partner—that is the essence of Wabi Sabi Love.
ABOUT ARIELLE FORD:
Arielle is the author of eight books, including her latest Wabi Sabi Love: The Ancient Art of Finding Perfect Love in Imperfect Relationships and the international bestseller, The Soulmate Secret: Manifest The Love of Your Life With The Law of Attraction. She lives in La Jolla, CA with her husband/soulmate, Brian Hilliard, and their feline friends.