Relationship Wabi-Sabi

Accepting imperfection is at the heart of the Japanese aesthetic called Wabi-sabi, often described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. For example, a beautiful clay pot with a crack in it may not be ‘flawless,’ but it can be seen as even more deeply beautiful because of its unique imperfection. And so it is with relationships. The unique differences, challenges and limitations within our union can make it deeper, and our acceptance of these ‘flaws’ allows us to enjoy each other more fully. With ‘relationship wabi-sabi’ we can go beyond the idea of ‘perfection’ to find a deeper satisfaction.

In long-term relationships, things never stay static. As much as we might long to recapture the ravenous sexual appetite we had for our partner years ago, it will never be quite the same. But that doesn’t mean the sex can’t get even better! We may also long for the days when we didn’t know that he walked around the house while brushing his teeth, or that she needed to talk to her mother every Sunday night, even while on vacation. But that doesn’t mean we’re not benefiting from a deeper understanding of each other over the years.

Keep Your Balance

Sometimes we focus on our partner’s ‘flaws’ and fixate on them, which is unhealthy and unproductive. If you find yourself in this predicament, make a list of all the things you love about your partner. Maybe you would like her to be more outgoing at dinner parties, but don’t let that judgment cloud your entire perception. Pay attention to what is going on in her world, and take the time to balance out your current fixation with the value that she brings to your relationship. Things on this list may include her ability to talk to you about your work, her willingness to try new things or the fact that she cooks fantastic lasagna! Get your perspective back, and take another look. How can you view this ‘flaw’ with love and understanding, and allow it to strengthen your union?


Long-term relationships require open and honest communication. There’s no way around it! Human beings are motivated by many different factors in their lives, and sometimes we find ourselves growing apart from our partners because they inhabit a different world from our own. Perhaps he doesn’t want to try yoga, while your practice is thriving and you want him desperately to join you, to feel what you feel. Consider letting this go, and observing his behavior as you accept him for who he is. You will set yourself free from the chains of constant coaxing (which isn’t working anyway), while also allowing him to simply be himself. You may find that within this new free space, he gravitates to a different hobby that you both enjoy, or that the time apart doing different things is actually incredibly valuable to both of you, giving you more to talk about when you come back together.

There is a common wisdom that relationships take a lot of work, and that is quite true in terms of navigating schedules and priorities to maintain your quality time together, and working out emotional and physical needs and differences. But it is also true that accepting the imperfections of your relationship and recognizing the beauty of that imperfection can go a long way to bringing you both more fulfillment.

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