“And two shall become one.” It’s a beautiful phrase spoken at most wedding ceremonies. We have come up with an assortment of rituals and activities meant to symbolize that statement. This weekend I attended a wedding where the bride and groom poured sand into a beautiful vase as an attendant recited a moving poem about how the two individuals no longer exist but have joined together as one.
It was hard not to listen to those words while looking at two empty glasses and not think how unrealistic that actually is. I mean, I didn’t fall in love with my husband because of his “oneness.” I fell in love with him because of who he is. I also don’t think our marriage would last long if I walked around empty and waiting for him to fill my glass back up. That sounds exhausting for him or anyone.
Unfortunately, so many couples enter into marriage under the guise that they are now one, and they begin neglecting who they are as an individual. They look to their partner to fill them up with validation and make them feel connected. When you relinquish the responsibility of self care to your partner you are walking a dangerous path that leads couples towards resentment and fatigue.
While it is difficult to prioritize yourself and your needs before those of your loved one, it is essential.
Here are some ways you can practice positive self care while staying deeply connected to your spouse.
Relationships frequently require compromise, and compromise requires sacrifice. However, what if you begin to feel overextended in the sacrifice department? What if you start feeling that the other person always gets to make the decisions or have their way, while you never get what you really want? While it is tempting to get angry at your spouse and think of them as selfish, it is also damaging to the relationship. Your boundaries are yours to acknowledge and maintain. When you are in a situation where you feel as though you are giving more than you are comfortable with, it is up to you to say no, not your partner’s.
Handle your needs first
How selfish does that sound? Taking care of ourselves first is in direct opposition to “putting others before you.” Or is it? There is ample evidence showing how and why it is impossible to take care of someone else before appropriately taking care of yourself. I will give you the “therapist go-to” metaphor: At the beginning of every flight you have ever sat on, the flight attendants instruct passengers that in the event of a loss of cabin pressure that you put your oxygen mask on before helping those you are traveling with (including small children) or other passengers. Hmmm…the thought of my daughter struggling for air while I safely affix my oxygen mask makes my stomach turn. But worse than that is the idea that she is breathing fine while I am passed out, and she can’t do a thing to help me. The same principle applies here. Take your morning coffee before you assemble lunches and scramble eggs. Go to the gym instead of doing everyone’s laundry. Make your priorities, your priorities. You will be less likely to feel resentful for all that you do, and thus, more connected to those you love.
Let others take responsibility too
It is tempting to be the “head of the house” and feel that you are responsible for everything under that roof. Schedules, domestic duties, bill paying, date night, vacation planning, etc. Have you ever stopped to think that someone else might be able to handle some of those responsibilities? Sure, they may not do things the way you would, but is that so bad? Let other people pitch in. The kids can learn to do their chores without your oversight.
An appropriately place, “good job,” even when the bed is a messily made bed can go a long way to boosting their confidence. Your husband may not plan the vacations because he has never had to, but if you let him learn by experience he will most likely do a great job. Let people take on some of the responsibilities and clear the way for some “you” time. Be sure to appreciate them in the same way you would like to hear their appreciation. This keeps you from feeling like you are parenting not only your children, but your spouse as well. Likewise, they feel more of a 50/50 partnership, once again growing that connection you are both hoping to achieve.
For help with issues including relationships, marriage, family, and parenting our experts at noyau.com are here to help guide you on your journey towards a more fully connected relationship and more meaningful moments in everyday life.