How is it going creating safety for your partner? Remember, to see your partner whole and at their best, work to create a safe environment for them. It’s a paradigm shift for many of us, yet a worthy focus for our relationships. Rest assured, I am still working on it.
Please share any questions or comments about your experiences or my blog. Reach me at Frank@FrankLove.com or post a comment below.
Here is another perspective for your loving culture toolbox: Make time for taking care of your partner.
Have you ever thought or said, “I have to take care of myself before I can help anyone else”? Perhaps you’ve taken a page out of the flight attendant’s playbook to justify your mindset – “In case of a cabin pressure emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.”
At a very basic level, taking care of ourselves first is important. We cannot cook a meal for anyone if we are severely malnourished; we cannot assist someone down stairs if we cannot walk down stairs safely.
However, in relationships, this reasonable sentiment often gets exaggerated. On that airplane, taking care of ourselves first means as soon as we get our mask on, we can help others put theirs on. Not Once I get my mask on, tighten my seat belt, tie my shoes, put away my tray table, get my seat upright – then I can help others.
In our relational lives, this “me first” sentiment can show up in many ways. We hesitate or refrain from showing affection, assisting with our partner’s goals or dreams, supporting our partner with a project, or being available to work through a conflict because we are focused on ourselves.
I have heard a partner say to the other, “I can’t help you right now. I’m trying to get my own self together.” But this is usually not a true oxygen mask scenario. Most of the time, these sentiments are expressed with underlying resistance to giving energy, time, or attention to a partner. We are invested in our individual success and do not see the success of our partner as contributing to ours.
We are not invested in the success and well-being of our partner because we think our partner’s success is their accomplishment, not ours. We forget we are intertwined. We do not see one another as true partners forming one unit. And none of these perspectives are loving.
What can we do about it?
If my examples of disconnection resonate with you, changing the infrastructure of your relationship may be necessary. Consider:
Exploring our partnership: An individualized perspective may be wasteful. Synergy is defined as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” Do we have synergy in our partnership? Are we two individuals who happen to be in a relationship? Or can we work together to create a greater result than if we were alone?
Imagine I take two hours to prepare dinner on the night I cook, and my partner takes two hours on the night she cooks. Yet when we cook together, we only take 30 minutes. That’s synergy: working better together than separately. If we took one hour working together, no time was saved; each of us spent an hour so the total time is still two hours. But if together we can get dinner on the table in 30 minutes, the time invested was only one hour! We saved an hour by working together. Every relationship holds potential for synergy; explore until you find it!
Making a plan: Often we struggle to support our partner because we have not planned to do so. We pass each other on our way to our next project, appointment, or emergency. A few moments of planning are usually enough. Sit down to talk about the upcoming week and opportunities to support and care for one another.
Joining your partner on their project: It’s as simple as it sounds. If a partner has started a business, ask for a responsibility … and take it seriously. If a partner is working in the yard, pick up a tool and help. Connect with their project and own some part of it.
We do not have to fulfill all our hopes, wishes, and desires before we support our partner’s. We can lift each other up, taking care of each other as we climb. I humbly believe that your partnership is worth the effort.
However, the conversation doesn’t end here. Let’s discuss short-term versus long-term relationship investing next time.
Frank Love coaches individuals who are in (or wish to be in) a relationship on ways to be more loving. He is also the author of “Relationship Conversations You Don’t Want to Have (But Should Anyway)” and “25 Way to Be Loving.” To schedule a free consultation, contact Frank at Frank@FrankLove.com.