Your Primary Relationship is Your Primary Relationship
Part of where people run into trouble in relationships is after the honeymoon period. You can start to treat it like any other relationship. It’s not.
With your co-workers and friends you can argue your point, try to persuade. You can neglect them for awhile and catch right up when you re-connect. Maybe with your family of origin too, though that‘s also risky.
But your primary relationship is different. This is the person you’ve pledged yourself to. I take care of you and you take care of me. That’s what we’re here for. That’s why we’re in this together. More than anyone else.
Otherwise, why bother.
It’s what Stan Tatkin calls The Couple Bubble.
Your primary relationship needs a different operating system, different rules of engagement.
- Learn what makes your partner tick (and what ticks them off!)
- Take care of your person whenever you possibly can
- When you can’t, don’t put it on them. Admit your own limitations that are getting in the way by labeling your emotional state. “I’m in too much pain.” “I’m scared.” “I’m overwhelmed.” It can be that simple.
- If you did something that hurt your partner — even if you didn’t mean to, or don’t understand why your partner is hurt — own what you can and try to repair it as soon as possible. “I messed up.” “I hurt you.” “I love you.”
Every unrepaired hurt builds resentment.
- It’s not a competition and neither of you is the other’s boss. It’s a collaboration, a partnership. You’re a team.
- If your partner falls, do your best to pick him or her up. You win or lose as a team.
- And don’t point out what your partner should do, or how your partner is failing. That will only make things worse. Instead confide how you’re scared, or sad, or what you really wish for together.
Don’t be the victim or the bully. Be the agent of change.
Have kids? Multiply everything I said by 10. Your kids’ success in relationships — in life — depends on the quality of your relationship with your partner, and how you treat each other.