Updated: Jul 11, 2022
We tend to go into relationships with the idea of the ‘happy ever after’. As though meeting that one person and finding them will solve all our emotional woes. We will have someone to love us for ever and life will just work out.
You start dating, maybe go away for the weekend, move in and before you know it have a mortgage and kids.
You’ve somehow fallen into the pattern and lifestyle that everyone does. Because, well, ‘that’s what you do’.
For most of us though, when we finally get that mortgage and kids, life isn’t what we originally thought it would be. It was supposed to be easy. That’s what Hollywood tells us. That’s the reason to get married, isn’t it?
Instead your relationship can leave you feeling trapped. Lonely. Your partner’s behaviour has an uncanny way of having you feel exactly like your mother or father did when you were younger. You fall into the patterns of wounding and projection. Blaming them for where you are at in your life. They are not enough, too much, and the paint begins to peel and crumble from what was once so shiny, new and exciting.
The thing is with relationships, they take work. Work in the sense that YOU actually need to put the effort in. At this point I imagine a raised eyebrow or two as you think and ponder over this. Thinking to yourself ‘But THEY are the one who doesn’t help around the house. THEY are the one who doesn’t listen to what I’m asking of them…’
My question is, are you actually communicating what you want from them?
A client recently came to me with the goal of her partner taking some initiative around the house instead of her doing everything.
My question to her was, ‘Have you communicated to him that you would like him to do more? Is he even aware of the jobs that you do in the home and the mental load you have?’
Her feeling was that he ‘should just know’ because he can see that she has a lot on and she talks about it. He should just ask her.
This is a tendency we have, that we assume our partner knows what we want, what we need. This is quite often our inner-child wanting the validation, recognition, to be seen and to be considered. We project these inner-child feelings onto our partners. In this instance it was around ‘seeing me and what I do and recognising that, being there to rescue me’.
After some exploration she came up with the plan to write down all the things that she currently deals with and give him the opportunity to choose from that list what he would like to take responsibility for.
Her concern was him ‘getting it wrong’. What if he damages my favourite sweater using the wrong temperature on the washing machine? Frustrating, expensive and obviously the need to step in and save is really high. Even the idea of ‘if you want something doing properly, do it yourself.’
My question back was, ‘Have you ever ruined clothing in the washing machine?’ I asked this knowing I have and the chances are, I would say most people have too. It’s about giving your partner space to make mistakes too. Yes, she had ruined clothes too.
Her real concern was to prevent a mistake from happening so she was guided to the solution herself that when he chooses from the list of things he can do, she can ask, ‘If I see you could be about to make a mistake with doing the washing, would you prefer I make a suggestion on how to do it differently or would you prefer I not say anything and you figure out how to solve any potential problems which may arise?’ This way you are inviting them to make the decision on how they want to be approached. And then the thing is to stick with what it is they chose.
So my client had a go. She let her husband make the dinner. She took herself away out of the kitchen. And it went quite well. The chicken was a little salty, she didn’t say anything but their child did.
Do you know what the really big win was? When she was out for a meeting one evening and was running late, she messaged her husband to tell him. When she got home, he'd used his initiative to make dinner!
What did they all learn? Less salt on the chicken and allowing your partner to take more responsibility won’t lead to the end of the world.
Do you struggle with not asking for help?
Are you taking on the load at home?
Do you feel like you’re mothering your partner?
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.