My wife and I discovered that tolerating each other neither helped us to grow nor strengthen our marriage. So, rather long ago, we agreed not to tolerate each other. And we are glad we did that.
Let me explain why we made that decision using the Chinese characters representing “tolerance” – 忍.
Tolerance to the Chinese is depicted as having a knife (刀) pierced into a heart (心). Literally, it means to withstand the highest order of pain a human can ever experience, which happens when one’s heart is pierced or stabbed. Medical evidence suggests that most people who are stabbed in the heart (cardiac stab), usually die within minutes due to the lost of blood to the brain and other organs, or may die a little slower from cardiac tamponade, which is when fluid in the sac around the heart builds up and results in the compression of the heart. Some patients are saved through immediate intervention but most simply die.
Those of us who have tried to use tolerance in relationship matters may fall under the same statistics – some may make it but many certainly break it! This is the primal reason for my wife and I to decide to never tolerate each other.
Let me propose to you something far better to help grow and strengthen your marriage - acceptance. This is a key to strengthening the emotional intimacy with your spouse. To achieve a Maximum Marriage, the tool is to Accept All of Each Other. All means all – the good and the bad traits.
But what does this mean and how does one practice it?
Again, I look to Chinese wisdom for help – acceptance is depicted by the words 接受. The first word, 接, means to receive, to connect, to continue. Interestingly, it is made up of 手（hand) on the left and 妾 (concubine) on the right. It seems to suggest to opening stretching one’s hand (the wife’s??) to receive, connect and continue life with the concubine in the family (purely my own interpretation). I can only imagine the emotional pain a wife has to endure when her husband brings in another woman in the family and calls her his concubine!
Continuing, 受 means to bear, to endure, to suffer – forbearance.
So, putting them together, 接受means to have a total willingness to receive, connect with, and to forbear for the sake of the relationship. This is the way to a Maximum Marriage – Accept All of Each Other!
N. T. Wright, a leading British New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired Anglican bishop, aptly said,
"Love is not just tolerance. It's not just distant appreciation.
It's a warm sense of, 'I am enjoying the fact that you are you."
So I urge you to agree with your spouse to stop tolerating each other and to start accepting all of each other. And you will be on your way to a Maximum Marriage.