Great article by my colleague Jeffrey Sumber about relationships. Enjoy:
“I like to ask couples with whom I work at the start of counseling what the point of their relationship is. It’s not that I like to see people squirm in their seats, it’s that I don’t experience many people with healthy understandings as to why they actually engage in relationship. After all, effectively relating to others is arguably one of the hardest things we do as humans.
Many people suggest they’re in it for the love, the support and the companionship. However, the really honest folks tend to admit that they get involved with someone in order to get their needs met. “Who else is going to take out the garbage?” Good question!
I believe this oftentimes “stealth” motive for why we engage in relationships is one of the key reasons that so many people seem unhappy with their significant other. Many of us know we’re not supposed to really expect anything from the other person, but it doesn’t take much to uncover the truth for people: why would I be partnered if I can’t expect my partner to give to me, do for me, be for me…?
Sorry, but I’m here to suggest that this is one of those things that will keep you unhappy forever unless you accept a significant paradigm shift. I believe we enter the landscape of relationship for all those fun, exciting reasons like love, companionship, dependable sex, etc., however the most compelling reason is that through relationship, I grow, evolve, and transform. It is about me changing as much as I like to fantasize about you changing.
If I step away from my projections as to how you could change (thereby creating a perfect world in which I can live) and direct my attention to the ways I would like to be in the world, the person I want to strive to be, then I have the potential to truly create a peaceful, supportive relationship.
So, it’s Valentine’s Day. Many of us are used to being disappointed on these kinds of holidays. We tend to have expectations that we project onto our significant others and when their behaviors inevitably don’t match our fantasies, we hold them responsible. We blame them. We resent them. We criticize, scold and threaten. We even make up excuses like “it’s not a real holiday anyway…” As if any holiday is real.
Be Your Valentine? WHY?
And they’re absolutely right. What is fun about feeling like we failed once again at doing what you wanted? Why would I feel motivated to do it better or differently next time if my motivation is powered by shame, guilt or anger?
The solution? Focus on being the partner you think your partner should be instead of waiting for them to magically transform into your own best self.
Shall I repeat that?
Express your needs in terms of yourself, not your partner. It is not a given that your needs will be met by your partner and they are not bad or wrong for not successfully fulfilling your needs.
If you do get your needs met, it is a wonderful, amazing occurrence. Celebrate.
If your partner meets your needs as a result of a deep, organic longing to please you, as a gift rather than an obligation, then rejoice and nurture the experience of something sacred and wondrous occurring in your life. Receive the gift and nourish yourself”
Use your relationship to grow deeper into yourself, not to diminish your partner!
Please leave your feedback so I know how you are enjoying the posts, Mheyah