Wabi Sabi Love

It’s common to fantasize about living in a perfect world with perfect people and perfect relationships. The hard truth is – we’re not perfect. And neither are our partners.

The term Wabi Sabi is a concept derived from Zen Buddhist teachings that means finding beauty and perfection in the imperfections. For instance, if you had a large vase with a long crooked crack down the middle of it, a Japanese art museum would put the vase on a pedestal and shine a light in the crack OR they might fill the crack with 24-karat gold! Sadly, our culture has conditioned us to expect perfection from our treasures, ourselves and others, leading us into a perpetual state of frustration and dissatisfaction. The human mind tends to be a fault-finding machine, focusing with laser- like precision on what’s wrong versus what’s right.

Wabi-Sabi Love is the answer to the universal dilemma and struggle of living with and loving another human being. The goal is to refine ourselves in such a way that the imperfections are truly perfections! Imperfection is in, its own way, more valuable than perfection itself.

Changing just one thing about how we look at our partner can alter our entire perception. We always have a choice. Wagging a finger elicits a different response than offering a hand.

Remember, the cracks are where the light gets in.

Research at the University of Buffalo revealed that putting on “rose-colored glasses” and idealizing your partner actually leads to more happiness and relationship satisfaction. This is also known as the Pygmalion effect; the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. It’s a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. As mature adults, we get to choose our thoughts and beliefs so why not intend and expect the best out of ourselves and our partners? So, instead of being upset with your partner for falling asleep while you were watching tv together Sunday Night, savor and simmer the two previous nights when there were intimate moments shared together. Be willing to become myopic on your focus of what is good versus what isn’t.

Think of something that completely drives you crazy about your mate. Then, see how you can turn it around from something that annoys to something that brings joy. One woman was so exasperated with her husband’s need to stop and met new people and share silly jokes. She has heard all of these jokes a million times and, furthermore, she gets annoyed because whenever they are out and about running errands, she has to wait for him while he stops and talks and entertains someone.

One day, while she found herself waiting for her husband for the third time in less than an hour, she caught a glimpse of him sitting on the curb with a little boy who seemed bored to tears and lonely, while waiting for his mother. She could overhear him share a joke with the little boy that caused this boy to burst out in laughter. Just then, this boy’s mother came up and flashed her husband a huge smile for his kind effortââ?¬Â¦and in that moment, after a decade of marriage, this wife finally understood her husband’s true nature. He wasn’t trying to make her crazyââ?¬Â¦he was trying to make people happy. She found beauty and perfection in what nearly made her insane.

It does require genuine effort to find your own passion in what your sweetheart is already passionate about. For instance, soon, we will have March-Madness, the college basketball playoffs. Many husbands love basketball; many wives do not. (I apologize for the stereotypeââ?¬Â¦but let’s use this for an example.) One wife, married to a true college basketball diehard, decided that this particular year she was going to embrace this specific passion of her husband. She stated to join him on the couch and watch the last 15 minutes of every game her was watching. Her husband seemed to really delight in the fact that she genuinely became more interested in his love for basketball even though she called the end of the quarter the “end of the inning.” She began to appreciate how the kid in him lit up with every great play and how he began to share more of his own collegiate career memories as a basketball player, allowing her to appreciate and admire him in a whole new way.

While you may never grow to love your partner’s passion as much as he or she does, you can learn to ââ?¬Ë?grow your own heart’ by learning how to love and support the things that are really important to them. Talk about an instant connector!

True love requires us to grow up and evolve beyond our wounds. As adults it’s not IF we have wounds, but which ones DO we have. It is not the responsibility of our partners or our marriages to heal us from them. But it’s so easy to reject each other in our relationships when our partner seems to “act out” or become hurt. When a young child falls down and scrapes his knee we come to his aid by picking him up, drying his tears and soothing him with Sesame Street Bandages. But when an adult acts imperfectly or “falls” in some way, it’s much harder to extend the same comfort. Unfortunately, we often shun and judge our partners without realizing that his or her actions may have been triggered by an internal wound that we can’t see. (I’ll give an example from my practice if there is time.)

BOTTOMLINE: When you find yourself obsessing about the cracks in your partner, imagine filling the cracks with a bright light or 24-karat gold. The one thing often lacking in any situation is that which we are not giving�..remember to give acceptance to the perfectly imperfect.

For more information, purchase the book “Wabi Sabi Love” by Arielle Ford