What if there were a few things you could start doing today that could measurably improve your relationship? When things start going awry, we tend to look around for what needs to change. It’s easy to see things your partner does wrong, and it’s easy to come up with things they could change to improve. But it’s very hard to make these changes in someone else.
Think for a minute:
It could be that there are some things you could start doing right now that will help.
We often think our partner should take the major role in meeting our social and emotional needs throughout a long-term relationship. Even though this thought process hurts our relationships, it’s not surprising that we fall back to this mentality. After all, in the beginning phase of a relationship you often do get most of these needs met by your partner.
But it turns out that in healthy relationships, each partner takes personal responsibility for getting his or her own needs met and does so in ways that enhance the relationship, or that at least minimize stress to it.
Ask for What You Need and Want
Asking for what you need and want is one example of taking personal responsibility for getting your own needs met. The following story illustrates this.
Before marrying Lance, Paula was raised in a traditional home where her father always got her mother’s coat for her before they went out together. Her mother was so appreciative when he did this, and his act of getting her coat came to symbolize her father’s love for her. But in the house Lance was raised in, his mom got her own coat, so he didn’t think to do this for Paula.
This meant that whenever they went out she began their outing feeling unloved. Lance was such a good man in so many ways; plus, she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So for a long time she said nothing and just went and got her own coat. Finally she worked up the courage to say something. She sat him down and told him she wanted to talk with him for a minute before they left for their date.
“Lance,” she said fixing his collar, “growing up I always watched how my dad treated my mom, and that’s how I learned a woman could be treated by a man. It was how I knew you would be as good to me as you are. Thank you for being that loving man to me.” Lanced blushed a bit and said he enjoyed treating her like a queen. “Well,” she continued, It really means a lot to me. How would you feel about getting my coat for me before we leave together? I would just love it if you would start doing that for me.” As you can imagine, he was happy to do so.
Asking for what you want may be less romantic than hoping your spouse will read your mind, but you may want find less frustrating ways to be romantic. Expecting your spouse to read your mind is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment and is a classic example of not taking responsibility for getting your needs met. So catch yourself if you get disappointed from his/her lack of psychic ability, and instead, get in the habit of asking for what you need.
Are You Fit for a Good Relationship?
In addition to developing the habit of asking for what you want, create and maintain lasting habits of social, emotional, and physical health and hygiene that you’ll keep your whole life. Sometimes when you feel content and fulfilled, and when the initial, honeymoon phase of the relationship starts drawing to a close, you start to give up some of your habits of living that actually make up a lot of who you are and what attracted your partner in the first place.
With these habits—which vary from person to person—your spouse will have the most fulfilling, healthy, and desirable relationship they could possibly have, both physically and emotionally.
So don’t get too busy to keep up on your physical exercise or your personal hygiene. Keep getting together with others to do fun things. Take the medicine your body needs, and see a therapist if that’s what you need to do to find emotional strength. These may seem like selfish activities, but they are probably the very things that made you the attractive and interesting person your partner fell in love with, so keep them up (or if you’ve slacked off, get back to them)!
You are only the partner you have prepared yourself to be through your daily habits of self-care.