Some of the women are married to men who will never be able to understand core feminine needs. Their emotional structure makes it impossible for them to comprehend the feelings and frustrations of another–particularly those occurring in the opposite sex. These men will not read a book such as this, and would probably resent it if they did. They have never been required to “give,” and have no idea how it is done. What, then, is to be the reaction of their wives? What would you do if your husband lacked the insight to be what you need him to be?
My advice is that you change that which can be altered, explain that which can be understood, teach that which can learned, revise that which can be improved, resolve that which can be settled, and negotiate that which is open to compromise. Create the best marriage possible from the raw materials brought by two imperfect human beings with two distinctly unique personalities. But for all the rough edges which can never be smoothed and the faults which can never be eradicated, try to develop the best possible perspective and determine in your mind to accept reality as it is. The first principle of mental health is to accept that which cannot be changed. You should easily go to pieces over the adverse circumstances beyond your control, but like my friend Tommy, you can also resolve to withstand them. You can will to hang tough, or you can yield to cowardice. Depression is often evidence of emotional surrender.
Life can’t give me joy and peace;
it’s up to me to will it.
Life just gives me time and space;
it’s up to me to fill it.
Can you accept the fact that your husband will never be able to meet all of your needs and aspirations? Seldom does one human being satisfy every longing and hope in the breast of another. Obviously, this coin has two sides: You can’t be his perfect woman, either. He is no more equipped to resolve your entire package of emotional needs than you are to become his sexual dream machine every twenty-four hours. Both partners have to settle for human foibles and faults and irritability and fatigue and occasional nighttime “headaches.” A good marriage is not one where perfection reigns; it is a relationship where a healthy perspective overlooks a multitude of “unresolvables.” Thank goodness my wife, Shirley, has adopted that attitude toward me!
By Dr. James Dobson