Most of us would like to have a few perfect relationships. Wouldn’t that make life easier?

The truth is, however, there aren’t any perfect relationships. None.

All relationships, however wonderful, are full of flaws.

Even seemingly perfect relationships are simply flawed relationships that are full of forgiveness.

Consider the woman you know who says her husband is perfect. In reality, she’s learned to deal with his imperfections. That’s why he’s perfect.

To work better with the people in your life, consider how you can steer around their flaws.

“My mother talks way too much,” says a friend of ours. We’ll call her Sandy.

“Mom makes me crazy in traffic,” says Sandy. “I’ve almost wrecked the car listening to her.”

We advised Sandy to change something fast. We suggested she play music while she’s in the car with her mother.

Her mother loves classical music, and music erases the opportunity for too much chatter.

Sandy says our tip is working. “I listen to Mom while we’re having coffee or shopping,” Sandy reports. “But now, I tell her we’ll listen to our favorite music while we’re in the car. I usually turn on the music when we’re in heavy traffic, so I won’t get distracted by her.”

If someone you know aggravates you, figure out how you can fine-tune something.

These tips can help:

Be honest with yourself about a person’s flaws. Name the problems and start dealing with them more directly. Decide how you will take control.

Define workable activities for the relationship. For example, if you have a friend who complains a lot, you might go to movies with this person. But, you might avoid talking long walks with him or her.

Spend more time with upbeat people. If you have a crazy relationship with someone, you can deal with it more productively if you have positive friends in your life. Your favorite people make the irritating ones easier to tolerate.

“I used to complain a lot about my husband’s mother,” says a woman we’ll call Trisha. “I didn’t have any good friends of my own at the time, so I focused on my mother-in-law way too much. This was sick on my part.”

Trisha is right. If you don’t have anything positive to focus on – or anyone else to focus on – you’ll tend to over-focus on rocky relationships.

One psychologist that we’ll call Tyler gets this question a lot: “Should I divorce my spouse? My marriage isn’t making me happy.”

Tyler says he tells people to get their lives in order, so they are having a decent earthly experience without depending too much on a spouse to make them happy.

By focusing on healthy interests, says Tyler, it makes it easier to judge the marriage. You’ll tend to over-judge your mate if you’re not focused on your own goals.

“I believe people get fed up with a spouse if they aren’t happy at work, for example,” Tyler explains. “Bad life experiences put stress on your relationships.”

Tyler thinks that individuals who know how to plan their lives around healthy activities can tolerate imperfect relationships a lot better.

“We all have aggravating relatives and friends,” laughs Tyler. “But, when we’re grounded in doing fun things we enjoy, we don’t place too much responsibility on other people to make us happy.”

Relationships are a large part of happiness. But, the truth is, most people we meet will be a royal pain to us at times. That’s life. Imperfect people who live under stress and strain make up the population of the world.

“I work a lot on defining how I want my day to go,” says a man we’ll call Justin. “I don’t react to crazy relatives and my off-beat friends the way I used to. I simply see my life as a sitcom – and I try to get a few good laughs out of the people who used to make me angry. I want to be smiling at the end of each day. The weird people actually will provide the laughter, if you let them.”

Justin’s attitude keeps him sane and balanced. Plus, he’s a very popular guy. Instead of reacting to people, he just folds them into his daily script and figures his attitude will wash away their sins for the day.

When we choose to create daily happiness for ourselves, we can steer around the waves other people create for us.

Ask yourself, “Am I happy with the general direction of my life? Do I like the goals I have set for myself?”

If not, try to devise a good life plan that you know will work, regardless of the relationships you’re having.

While no one should stay around abusive people or ignore situations requiring a bold confrontation, it helps to expect imperfection in all of the people we know.

We should not try to change or correct them, if we can find other means to deal with their imperfections.

In fact, if you spend too much time trying to change other people, you will only change yourself.

You will lose the focus you need to accomplish the goals that keep your personal life on track. Instead of helping another person, you will simply find yourself far off course from where you desire to be.

Judi Hopson and Emma Hopson are authors of a stress management book for paramedics, firefighters and police, “Burnout To Balance: EMS Stress.” Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.


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