When Supporting Your Spouse Turns into Mothering
On September 7, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt announced they were splitting up after 18 years together. Sources close to Westfeldt claim she had been feeling more like his mother the last few years instead of his girlfriend.
Unfortunately, this is becoming an all too familiar feeling to women everywhere. It isn’t that unusual to overhear a group of women at the mall or in a restaurant complaining that their boyfriends or husbands are behaving like overgrown children. They feel more like they have a child rather than a partner.
Witnessing a high profile couple call it quits allegedly for the same reasons other women complain about makes me wonder: what can we learn from Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt?
1. Relationship dynamics change
Relationships are not stagnant. They go through ups, downs, and all kinds of milestones and transitions. Sometimes the people involved don’t end up on the same page. This is a fairly common occurrence. People can grow apart if the relationship is not nourished.
2. Partners have to be equals
I will preach this until the cows come home. A relationship is a partnership. If one party feels as though they are in more of a caregiver or parental role, resentment can breed. With resentment comes a lack of attraction because there is nothing sexy about replacing your partner’s parent. Both parties need to do their fair share of their life’s duties and avoid complacency. If either person feels like he or she is being taken for granted, you have a one-way ticket to splitsville.
3. Sometimes you have to walk away
People and needs change all the time. The need to feel fulfilled is a huge motivator in behavior. If the relationship has passed the point of no return, walking away is an option. Doing so doesn’t invalidate your experiences together; not at all. What you are doing is simply validating that you respect yourself enough to see what is happening and care about your partner enough to allow them to find someone who really wants to be with them.
Other people and their behaviors are beyond our control. If you feel like you’ve been pushed into a parental role and aren’t a fan, speak up. Your partner may not even realize he or she is making that happen. If nothing changes after that, you need to evaluate if that is the way you want to live. Your answer will dictate your decisions from there. You may be surprised with yourself.
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