In my last post we explored how the Golden Rule can actually be harming your relationship because it assumes that your partner wants and appreciates the same things you do.
Now, when I share this concept with my clients, most totally get it, and yet have serious difficulties applying this concept to their relationship. It may take a little effort, but this is one of the most helpful concepts to become skilled at understanding for your relationship: it’s not up to your partner to learn the way you express love, it’s up to you to learn the way your partner feels love.
Why is this distinction so important?
Understanding and applying this seemingly subtle distinction is very important in relationships because when you do things the way your partner experiences love it fills him/her up, but when you ask your partner to experience love from your way, you actually deplete them.
There are already so many life stressors’ that cause stress and tax us, especially in our relationships. Bills, in-laws, cleaning, work, friends, children, ex’s can all take their toll and leave us feeling depleted and tired. It’s normal, natural, and happens in every relationship. But here’s the thing- when you are feeling depleted and tired, how much tolerance do you have? How strong is your ability to compromise? To understand? To communicate? For most of us, these areas are all significantly decreased by being depleted and tired; yet our irritability, short temper, anger, and hurt skyrocket.
Now think about how you handle the life’s stressors when you are well rested, happy, and content. How much stronger is your ability to compromise, communicate, and understand?
Running on a full tank vs. an empty one
It’s like with your car, you’ve got to take time to fill up the gas tank before you run out of gas to keep your car running. Showing your partner appreciation in a way they feel it, is like filling up their gas tank. It gives them fuel to more easily handle the stressors in life, and to better navigate the waters of your relationship.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to help kick start you understanding of this concept
How do you express love to others, especially your partner?
What makes you feel the most loved and cared about?
How does your partner express their love?
What makes them feel the most loved and cared about?
Have you ever asked your partner what makes them feel the most loved?
What forms of love are you most comfortable expressing? What forms are you most uncomfortable expressing?
How do these (answers from above) influence your assumptions of what your partner likes?