One thing that I’ve noticed in almost every couples or family therapy session is that each person is there to “fix” their partner. The session typically starts out with each person pointing the finger at each other, expressing not seeing change and feeling exhausted by not feeling heard. The same destructive dance is being played day in and day out, and the other person is waiting to see change. The problem is, if you both are waiting to see change, no change will occur if both are in wait of the other.
It’s understandable to want to see effort from the other person to feel like your own actions aren’t going unnoticed and to know that you are not the only player making moves. Life is a constant game of emotional cost-benefit in relationships where we don’t want our efforts disregarded and taken for granted. When we feel like we’re the only person trying to make a difference, this can lead to feeling hurt, frustrated, angry, anxious and unloved to state a few. The act of our partner making a move will confirm all this effort isn’t for nothing, we are being cared for and decrease these uncomfortable emotions. Action from the other person confirms, I matter.
If you are sitting there waiting to feel like you matter, isn’t it possible the other person is doing the same? So, the question is, how do we break this unproductive cycle or standstill?
This may be difficult to hear, but I’ve learned from my own life lessons that sometimes they sting or don’t sit well at first. As difficult as it is, to make a relationship work you must point the finger at yourself. Ask yourself today, what am I doing today to meet my partner’s needs? Not my own, but ones he or she has voiced. Not ones I think they want, but needs that have been articulated by my partner. If you don’t know for a fact what these are, maybe you should ask. The ball is in your court.