A Relationship of Equals: How to Take an Active Role

Couple Deciding Together What to Eat from Menu

You swallow it in silence the way the person you love makes you feel. You think to yourself that you have sacrificed everything so this person can be successful and does this person show you gratitude in return, no. It feels so draining to be in this situation and you feel so unloved. This person gets whatever s/he/they want, and you feel like your dreams are passing you by. What do you do now? How do you make this person that you love so much understand how it feels?

Let me break it to you this way, the only person that is going to attain your dreams is you. You are also the biggest and best advocate for yourself to get what you want. Often times in a couple, there is a break down in communication, and one half or both in the pair is feeling resentful. This breakdown in communication comes from not talking about boundaries and limits. It’s about not talking about what someone else might be giving up for the other to be successful. The problem may be that the couple only thinks of one person being successful instead of rising up and being successful together.

Sacrifice leads to resentment. Therefore, a relationship should be more about compromise and communication. You can both get what you want, but you both have to work together to get it.

Your partner is not a mutant

Your partner is not able to mind read. If there was a conversation about roles in the relationship and you initially thought this situation would be ok, but now is not. You have to TELL your partner how you feel! Trying to have a conversation right before someone leaves for work is not going to be successful and will leave you feeling unheard and hurt.

Take the time to set up a date or dinner where the two of you can talk. Make sure that your partner knows that spending this time together is extremely important. If you lead with “we need to talk,” your partner will freak out and may do everything your partner can do to avoid this situation.

Create a warm and comfortable environment for this conversation to take place. When you put the forethought into this, it will help to facilitate a more in-depth discussion and hopefully avoid arguments.

The Talk

It’s going to feel more intimidating leading up to your discussion. Especially if you both don’t, normally, share how you feel openly together. Setting guidelines at the outset of the conversation may make it more controlled so that it does not break out in a fight.

Use “I” statements. This is how you feel. If you say that “YOU” are doing wrong all the time, it will make your partner feel attacked and may break down the conversation so that nothing is really understood and the status quo will be upheld.

Some couples will try putting a scale of importance on this. For example, 1 to 10 how important is this to you with 10 being the most important and 1 not being such a big deal. Now, everything can’t be all 10s. Otherwise, you guys aren’t going to get anywhere. But it helps to guide you all in seeing where things can be negotiated and what subjects can’t be.

Knowing when it’s your baggage

Everyone comes into a relationship no matter what type of relationship it is with scars and wounds from the previous partnership. When we deny ourselves time to heal or to even feel pain, we are setting up the environment for chaos in our next relationship.

If you often find yourself comparing this person to the last one, that is a big sign that it might be your baggage interfering with your relationship. And when I say interfering I don’t mean that you are supposed to be accepting of mistreatment, I am saying that this may be contributing to the disconnect in communication that you are not able to see the actions of two people as different. The person you are with now is not responsible for the sins of the last one. Don’t punish this person as such.

If you are feeling vulnerable, reflect on why that is, and define that feeling even further. There are feelings wheels that can help with defining emotion such as what being angry is for you in that situation. When you communicate how you feel about a situation, you will be able to communicate what your needs are to your partner more concisely.

This goes along with doing the 1-10 scale. When you say you’re angry, your partner may be thinking, so am I. But your partner may not know how upset you are compared to him/her/them.

Trust Yourself

You may not want to have a conversation with your partner because you are afraid of the consequences or because you’re afraid of being alone. Know that you matter in all your relationships. If you are feeling hurt by something, don’t believe that its “all in your head.” Your feelings are valid.

If this person is saying things to you like “you’re crazy” and “it’s all in your head,” that’s not ok. That is someone violating the boundaries and limits you set for them. It’s now up to you be consistent about those boundaries and reinforce them with your partner.

Relationships are about respect and love. If your partner is not showing that to you even after communicating clearly your needs, then maybe its time to separate. It’s ok to be alone. It may feel like the worst outcome of all time before it happens, but at the same time, is it worth putting more time and energy into a relationship if someone doesn’t respect you?

Don’t stay in a partnership because of what others might think of you. They have their own issues in their houses that they are handling.

You need to live your life for you. You will only end up with regret if you live your life for someone else or out of fear.

And By the Way!

My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15 consultation, click here!

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