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As a man, I can fully relate when I hear from other men that they’re not sure what their partner wants when it comes to showing love.
It’s common for a man to get accustomed to showing he loves and cares for his partner in ways that are within his comfort zone.
For example, I have a habit of doing things around the house—chores, little tasks, taking the kids places. I’m a helper and I enjoy fixing things.
I feel like my wife probably feels cared about if I’m taking care of some of these things for her. That way, there’s less she has to worry about.
But these kinds of things aren’t a replacement for telling her I love her—or even better, showing her. There are tons of ways to demonstrate you care for your partner, and it’s a good idea to open your mind to them.
No matter where you are on the gender spectrum, this can apply. For today’s purposes, I’m going to approach it from my position as a heteronormative man with a female wife.
The Heart Connection
Women—and partners in general—crave the heart connection. Oftentimes, men have difficulty learning to love from the heart.
As men, we can get defensive and feel like we’re being criticized. That’s because it can be tough for us to get in touch with that emotional part of ourselves.
Our right brain is often the weaker muscle. We aren’t dominated by the side of empathy and nurturing like most women are.
That doesn’t mean we can’t exercise that side of our brains, though. It just takes a little more work for us.
For that reason, we as men have to dig a little deeper into ourselves.
We have to think about what our partner might want. I encourage you to get creative.
Gifts Are Nice, But Put Some Effort into It
Flowers and gifts are good things to give your partner, but those really don’t take too much thought.
When you dig toward your inner self, why not come up with the most creative idea you can?
Go for the less obvious things. Chocolates and teddy bears are something anyone can do.
Paint her a picture. Write her a poem or a love letter. Sing or play her a song. Build her something or even do the dishes or laundry for her.
Yeah, whatever you set out to do might feel out of your comfort zone at first. But think about how much your partner will appreciate it.
Besides, think about it from your partner’s point of view. Wouldn’t you be happy for them to show you love in a way that makes you feel cared for?
Love from the Heart
Of course, I’m not saying not to tell your partner how much you love them. That’s a given and this is over and above the standard things.
Loving from the heart is more about demonstrating you care.
When you’re looking for your most genuine, authentic way to express your care—that’s the one that will make your partner feel loved.
Not only does it show you care, but it shows a piece of who you are—a deeper part that allows her to feel a stronger connection to you and your true self.
Activate the Right Brain
So when you’re ready to dig deeper into yourself and show your partner your love, that’s where the mindset shift comes in.
Access your creative side…get that right brain moving faster…and show that heartfelt side of yourself. Think about the way your demonstrated love will be received and look forward to the joy you’ll bring your partner.
Not only will your partner appreciate it and your relationship will grow, but you’ll find yourself growing as an individual, too.
If you’re a parent, you already know what a huge change a baby brings into your life.
Like me, you might find yourself feeling triggered unexpectedly and you can’t get to the bottom of it. You feel things you may not have felt since childhood and it can be difficult to deal with them.
You’ll also find that both you and your partner change individually once you have a baby. You might not even feel like you’re the same person you used to be.
These changes are natural and to be expected, but if you and your partner aren’t prepared for them, it can be a problem for your relationship as well as for the parent-child relationship.
In this week’s episode, I discuss this and a bunch more with Kara Hoppe and Dr. Stan Tatkin. Their new book, Baby Bomb, helps parents maintain their partnership while creating a secure functioning environment for their child.
What Is Secure Functioning?
Secure functioning refers to the relationship balance in a newly formed triad—you, your partner, and your baby. When you experience secure functioning, it allows you to provide a safe and secure relational environment.
When you’re in a secure functioning relationship, you and your partner have a shared vision and are invested for the long term. You’re on the same page in both your relationship and your parenting practice, and you’re a solid team ready to protect each other.
This safe and secure environment is the foundation you build your relationship on—so that not only will your child grow up in a safe place, but your relationship will flourish even after the child is no longer in your care.
When you’re united in your partnership and you create that safe, healthy space for all three of you, you understand that you can accomplish so much more. And if you’re not fully invested, you rob yourself of the security and safety you would otherwise experience.
The Needs of Three
When a baby enters the picture, it’s easy for a parent—especially a mother—to lose herself in taking care of the baby. She can easily find herself too exhausted to attend to her partner’s needs, and her own needs often come last.
Besides, she’s using her body in many ways to care for the baby, which can leave very little for the partnership.
This is where the needs element comes into the partnership.
First, each partner has to be able to communicate their needs clearly. If your partner isn’t aware of your need, how can they help you?
Second, you both have to be vulnerable. You won’t be able to communicate your own needs if you’re not vulnerable with yourself (so you can acknowledge the needs) and your partner (so you can express them).
Once you’ve acknowledged and expressed your needs, it gives your partner the opportunity to help regulate them for you—and vice versa. It’s important to create expectations so that each partner knows where the gaps are and how to fill them.
Behaviors Can Be Learned
The good thing about secure functioning in this scenario is that it can be learned. It doesn’t matter your attachment style or your partner’s—you both can learn the behaviors necessary for a secure functioning relationship.
As in any relationship, with or without a child, it’s vital to learn how to work on problems together. If you’re a part of a team, you will never win if you’re fighting amongst yourselves, right?
But roles can be defined and redefined until you find what works for you. You don’t need to worry about what others are doing or what’s traditionally done.
You can set your goals and expectations together as a couple, distribute tasks and responsibilities the way you both feel is fair and equitable, and relax into the system that works for you.
Has someone ever told you this? “You’re too sensitive.”
Maybe they just dismiss you and judge you, like, “You’re just too sensitive,” with a wave of the hand.
This hurts because as someone who’s naturally a sensitive person, you’re already judgingyourself as too sensitive.
That dagger goes right to the sensitive spot and you might start to believe their BS story.
You probably tell yourself they’re right, that you are too sensitive. You might think, “Our relationship problems are my fault,” or you wonder if maybe the relationship would be better if you weren’t so sensitive.
Before you ask yourself, “Why am I so sensitive?” or start telling yourself any more lies and making yourself feel worse, pause…
Here’s what I would say to that person who tells you, “You’re too sensitive.”
Acknowledge Your Partner’s Statement
The first thing you can say to your partner or whoever the other person is: “I hear you.”
Everyone wants to be heard in a relationship, and starting with this line makes the other person feel heard.
Then, I’d repeat their sentiment back to them: “It sounds like you think I’m too sensitive. Is that right?”
Of course, they’ll give you an affirmative response. Go with it and on to the next part of your response.
Change Your Sensitivity into a Positive Trait
Next, you can say something like, “I’m actually learning to like how sensitive I am—in fact, I’m a sensitive person and it’s a superpower of mine.” (Your partner can’t argue with that.)
You can go on to explain how your sensitivity helps you in several areas of your life. Give a couple of real examples if you like, because as long as you’re tuned in to your sensitivity, you’ll know some areas where it helps you.
Tell your partner that you’re starting to accept your sensitivity as a gift—as a part of your reality, your nervous system, and your psychological makeup.
Sensitivity in Your Relationship
In the context of your relationship, you can talk about your sensitivity in a positive light. “I think my sensitivity is going to improve our relationship.” Or, you can say something like, “I think my sensitivity is something that’s going to make our relationship even better.”
Own the level of your sensitivity. “I’m just as sensitive as I need to be.” You don’t need to let anyone else tell you how sensitive to be.
You can even mention their judgment of you. Let them know that it’s challenging when they judge you for being sensitive—and that it causes you to judge yourself for it as well. They may not have realized how it comes across and what it feels like for you.
It might be difficult, but you can even tell your partner that if they continue to judge you as too sensitive, they’re most likely with the wrong person.
Thank them for helping you accept your sensitivity even more by judging you for it. By calling attention to it, they’re giving you an opportunity to own your sensitivity and to embrace it.
Here’s a quick video about this situation:
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
But there is one caveat to all this: you have to be working on yourself in orderto own and embrace your sensitivity. Back up your words with genuine acceptance.
It won’t do any good if you say it but then don’t follow through—and you just keep judging yourself. It’ll just be a bunch of empty words that go nowhere.
So make sure you’re doing the work to accept your sensitivity and how truly awesome it is. There is a ton of good in the world that can come from sensitive people, so don’t judge yourself or let anyone else judge you for it.
If you’re interested in learning the #1 skill for navigating conflict through communication, sign up for our free training here.
______________________________________________________________________ Photo Credit: Kenneth Gorzal Surillo – Pexels