The Best Gift Ever
By Steve Goodier
Merrill Markoe once quipped, "It's like magic. When you live by
yourself, all your annoying habits are gone!" But the bigger question
is: Can you still have annoying habits and be accepted anyway?
Author Francine Klagsbrun asked a select group of successfully
married couples the secrets of their happy marriages. Often they replied, "We
don't expect perfection." Even though their spouses had qualities
they would like to see changed, they had learned to accept those qualities
because, as one woman said, "The payoff is so great in others areas."
Former president Jimmy Carter discovered a surprising benefit when he
chose NOT to try to change his spouse. He once told how NOT
criticizing Rosalynn actually enhanced his marriage (READER'S DIGEST,
July 1989). This is what he said:
"Perhaps because of my Navy training, punctuality has been almost an
obsession. Rosalynn has always been adequately punctual, except by my
standards. A deviation of five minutes or less in our departure time
would cause a bitter exchange.
"One morning I realized it was Rosalynn's birthday and I hadn't
brought her a present. What could I do that would be special for her?
I hurriedly wrote a note: 'Happy birthday! As proof of my love, I
will never make an unpleasant comment about tardiness.' I signed it and
delivered it in an envelope, with a kiss.
"More than four years later, I still keep my promise. It has turned
out to be one of the nicest birthday presents for Rosalynn -- and for
His last sentence is telling. It turned out good for Rosalynn AND for
him! The surprising benefit of accepting others without wishing that
they were different is that you, too, will be happier.
What a wonderful present to give to somebody -- complete and
unconditional acceptance! And its just too good a gift to wait for a
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