“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw
In the last blog, we examined the power of “no” and the role it plays in our self-care, especially with regards to communication, as well as setting and maintaining personal boundaries. You’ve learned the importance of telling yourself what you need without feeling guilty for it – which is a fantastic first step to living a healthier, happier life. Now, let’s take a step outside of ourselves and discuss self-care within the context of an intimate relationship.
There’s no debating that humans are equipped with powerful brains – so powerful that, at times, we may create stories that aren’t true by placing expectations on others, particularly our partners. We may hope that our partner recognizes our issue and addresses it without us having to broach the subject even though it’s OUR own issue. In other words, we want them to read our mind…which probably isn’t very likely to happen unless your partner is supernaturally gifted.
The reality is that the road to a loving, respectful relationship starts with communication in your own head. It’s about figuring out what you need and conveying it to your partner in a clear, direct manner. They may not be able to make it happen, but the clearer you are in expressing your needs, wants, and feelings, the better things will be for you, your partner, and your family.
It comes as no surprise that men and women are simply wired to see things differently, which may be due in part to the societal roles assumed by each sex. Historically speaking, the woman handled the childrearing and running the household, while the man tended to the yard and focused on his career. I’m fully aware that times have changed and this arrangement may sound antiquated, but bear with me here!
I’ll elaborate on this point with an everyday scenario:
Let’s say you’re the type of person who cleans the kitchen before and after you cook because you’ve found it’s what works for you. Your partner may not, however, understand or embrace this ritual. They may not do it the same way or even notice that cleaning needs to be done. Your partner then asks what they can do to help and you become upset because, from your point of view, so many other things need to be completed in the kitchen, but they just don’t see it; instead, they say they’re going to mow the lawn. What is your priority isn’t one for them, yet you expect them to read your mind. Your partner may not view the kitchen as a mess or annoying, but you’ve placed expectations on them about cleaning it. Further, by not communicating this with your partner, you may end up doing things yourself and taking on too much…which could result in you feeling overwhelmed or resentful. Not a happy life.
To circumvent this, communicate and share with your partner! Tell them your thoughts and feelings to help them become aware of what’s prioritized in your head; otherwise, they may totally miss how important something is to you – even the mundane, routine tasks. Ask your partner, “Would you be okay with doing X, Y, and Z?” Or, returning to the messy kitchen situation, you could say to your partner, “While I’m cooking, will you please do the dishes?” By being direct and specific, you’re eliminating the guessing game, ultimately setting up yourself and your partner for a life full of happiness, love, understanding, and success.
TAKE-AWAY: If you find yourself in a disorderly kitchen, per se, be explicit in discussing your prioritized tasks with your partner. You can even use days and times to help them out. The point is to improve communication between you and your teammate, and to not to let things marinate in your head too long. Try using the phrase, “This is something I’d like…” to convey both ownership and importance to your partner. I bet you’ll notice a positive change!