Good Intentions & Tragic Strategies
You love your partner and are doing as much as you can to show it. For example, you might think to yourself, "I will get all this stuff done around the house, so that she knows I care about her well-being and am committed to our lives together." You work hard all day around the house. When your partner gets home that evening, you are exhausted and a little grouchy because you haven't taken care your own needs. Your initial attitude of love and generosity has transmuted into resentment. You hear yourself thinking, "She better appreciate all I have done!"
Not surprisingly your partner doesn't have the experience of being loved by you, but rather, sees your state and decides pour all of her warm greeting into the cat who purrs and rubbs softly at her ankles.
Seeing this, your resentment builds. You want that loving greeting. You worked hard for it all day.
When these kinds of patterns are repeated over time, both you and your partner become convinced that the other doesn't care and a rift grows between you.
There are a few simple ways to create connection in this situation.
1. Look for the good intention. Ask about your partner's intention behind their behavior and express your own. Hearing how your partner was holding the intention to care for you even though what she was doing wasn't working, can go a long way toward reconnecting.
2. Ask how to best love her or him. Ask your partner how she or he most feels loved. (Check out the book: The Five Love Languages, if you need help here).
3. Practice the Basics: at the foundation of any strong relationship are these basic practices:
- Speak and behave with your partner with as much respect as you would show a friend, co-worker, supervisor, etc.
- Greet your partner eye contact and affection upon seeing her or him after time apart (before you greet the cat).
- Everyday take time to listen to and express curiosity about your partner's experiences without judgment and advice giving.
- Celebrate and appreciate your partner and your relationship at least five times as often as when you talk about what is not working.
Take time with your partner in the next few days and talk about which basics you are doing consistently and which you would like to do more often.