How do I create a loving, healthy relationship with the person I love?
Married or not, we’ve all asked this question at least once in our lifetime. Relationships are often hard to navigate, and so staying in them and nurturing them requires having the right skills.
But we don’t always have the right skills or tools, right? We may fall into patterns we haven’t anticipated or get stuck in roles that are alien and time-consuming.
According to Jay Shetty, some of these roles can badly hurt our romantic relationships. Someone recently asked him about the best way to help the person we’re with while also honoring ourselves, and his answer hit home for me.
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“I think a lot of people do that. I think we overcompensate and we over deliver, and we overwhelm ourselves, in order to seem useful and feel worthy to the other person. In any relationship, we’re either the parent, the child, or a partner, and so when we start behaving like a parent, we inform our partners to behave like a child. And often that’s what ends up happening is that as we try and play this parental role, they start acting more and more like children, and therefore, we have to parent more and more and more then we overcompensate with over parenting.
And so the only way to try and really create a healthy relationship, is to set a standard of being partners. And partners mean we help each other out with our strengths, like their strengths help out our weaknesses, our strengths help out their weaknesses, but then we also help them build systems of support. We help them build what they need and not make us their need.”
Maybe the best tool we need to have in order to strengthen our relationships is to make sure we remain in the “partner” role. Putting ourselves in the role of a “parent” may, in fact, leave us feeling exhausted. Also, with time, our partner may resent us for being controlling or unaccepting.
That said, we need to let go of how we think our partners should be. Instead of judging them or trying to change them, we need to accept and love them as they are. Replace judgement with open communication and shame with support. Replace control with allowance. Replace having grudges with falling in love with them—again.
We need to be mindful of our behaviors and reactions. We need to let our partners make mistakes, and we need to practice being there for them, supporting them, instead of bringing them down.
Let’s be partners instead of parents and build our self-worth through acts of service and kindness.