When you don’t get help with the details of life, you’ll feel taken for granted or used.
When your basic needs go unmet you don’t feel safe. When you don’t feel safe you don’t have energy to be sexy.
In the three roles that make up your relationship—lover, friend, and partner—The partner is the one in your relationship that takes care of needs and keeps each of you feeling safe.
In the past 2 weeks we addressed the lover role in your relationship (click here and here to review). We talked about what makes the lover thrive: getting clear about what you want. Then truly receiving that desire.
Wanting. Receiving. These are the tools of the lover.
You know what will kill the lover energy in your relationship faster than anything else? Neglecting a need in favor of all that wanting.
When your spouse thinks they are helping, but they’re not
Wanting energy great in the bedroom but not in the bank account.
It’s a great feeling when your sweetheart texts you during the day and says, “Let’s go out for dinner.” You feel that whoosh of wonderful that you’ve been asked out on a date. You might even take a second shower to make sure you’re date-worthy.
The date goes great. Wonderful evening. Good sex when you get home.
Then, Saturday morning, you are sipping coffee as you catch up on life’s details and bam! You realize your bank account is overdrawn.
“I thought you were gonna be in charge of the bank account this year,” you say to your sweetheart.
“I am,” says your sweetheart.
“Then why are we overdrawn?”
“We’re overdrawn?” says your sweetheart. “Then why was I able to get cash yesterday?” And you suddenly realize your sweetheart’s idea of being in charge means visiting the ATM until the ATM will no longer dispense money.
Suddenly, you resent the night out last night. “We shouldn’t have gone out,” you say.
“I knew you were gonna say that,” says your sweetheart, “I knew at some point that you were gonna lecture me about spending money.”
“Well, what exactly do you think being in charge of the bank account entails,” you ask. But you can tell by the sulking blank look on your sweetheart’s face that this conversation is going no where.
“I’m so sick of you treating me like a kid,” says your sweetheart and off they stomp down the hall to hide out.
The Lover can take advantage of the Partner
Last week we talked about receiving pleasure. The week before we focused on how to get clear about what you want.
But all that lover energy of wanting and receiving is tough to find when you’re not sure how you’re gonna buy groceries this week.
The lover energy and the partner energy will be constantly at odds in your relationship until you get them to understand each other and allow them to co-exist in harmony.
Each of these nine boxes represents an overlap of roles between you and your sweetheart.
In the lefthand-top box, where you are the partner and your sweetheart is the partner, there is harmony. Partners are focused on what the relationship needs and they are happiest in achievement mode. If you and your sweetheart had both been in partner mode last night you wouldn’t have gone out to dinner because the partner is able to see needs coming and plan accordingly.
But last night you were both in the righthand-bottom box where you and your sweetheart are both in lover-mode. Lovers only know how to live in the moment and feel pleasure. Lovers crave novelty and adventure. Their job is to keep life fun.
It’s easy to create harmony in your relationship when you’re both in lover just like you were last night.
Unmatched roles creates tension
Until you wake up and there’s no money to go to the grocery store.
This morning, you woke up to partner-mode and realized your lover of last night just spent all the money.
At this moment, you’re living life in the lefthand bottom box where you are the partner and your sweetheart is the lover. That’s why you’re feeling discord this morning: Now you’re focused on meeting the needs in your relationship and your sweetheart is in lover-mode, still living in the moment, focused only on the joy of lounging in bed.
Last night you were eager to go along with your sweetheart’s lover invitation to eat out until you woke up to the partnership obligations that were violated.
This is where a tons of relationship strife originates. The clash between partner and lover: meeting needs and satisfying wants.
It’s wonderful to be married to someone who’s constantly focused on keeping life fun and lively.
Until. Until you can’t pay the bills.
Suddenly all that liveliness feels selfish and immature.
Remember last week we talked about how you don’t want to be a leech in bed?
Well, you also don’t wanna get used in the kitchen.
Partners take care of needs
It’s hard for the partner role in your relationship to feel pleasure. That partner is busy staying focused on keeping the lights on and the fridge full. Pleasure can be a distraction for the partner.
That’s why we focused last week on how to receive pleasure. And you’ll notice I even suggested eating dessert before your veggies. That’s how important I believe it is to focus on pleasure in your relationship.
But I wasn’t suggesting to seek only pleasure and neglect responsibilities.
Because there’s no way to find enough desire to carry your relationship through if you can’t fill the fridge.
You can think about the partner role in your relationship like a benevolent parent who takes care of details. Because the purpose of the partner is to create a feeling of safety. When you and your sweetheart are both in partner-mode you feel like a united team. You face life’s challenges together.
This involves work. Cleaning the kitchen, getting new tires for the car. These things take effort and the lover doesn’t want to do the work. The lover wants to go take an adventure. Excite me! Says the lover.
But how long does excitement last if you don’t feel safe? If over and over the lover chooses airline tickets to the Bahamas over paying the mortgage, that’s not sexy. That feels selfish.
In the last two weeks we talked about what happens when you deny your body pleasure: you’ll turn into a leech, hiding in the mud to attack and steal the pleasure you haven’t felt.
Now we’re talking about the opposite: if the lover in your relationship can’t figure out how to negotiate with the partner, you’ll feel used and taken for granted.
So if you want action in the bedroom, get to scrubbing the kitchen so your sweetheart doesn’t feel used and taken for granted. Getting used isn’t sexy.
Why are new relationships void of conflict?
When your relationship is new, it’s all romance. There are no bills to pay. You don’t live together, so you’re not trying to figure out how to fix the gutters that are leaking and threatening to ruin the siding on your house.
When your relationship is new, it even feels like an adventure to change the oil in the car together or go to the grocery store together. You’re playing at sharing chores and, because it’s novel, it’s fun. The lover is happy to do those chores together because the lover likes anything new.
But after you’ve lived together for a while and it’s now the 97th time you’re headed to the grocery, the lover is bored. “I don’t wanna,” says the lover.
The lover is free to feel this way because the lover never has to worry about filling the fridge. The lover lives in the moment and a full fridge is tomorrow’s problem.
The lover gets all the attention when you’re first thinking about happily ever after. The lover is fun and exciting and never has to pause to do the boring stuff.
But there’s no quicker way to kill your happily ever after than to let the lover have all the power in your relationship.
The first time you eat saltines for dinner because that’s all there is, even that might feel like an adventure. Exciting. You’re living on the edge!
But the fifth time you have to call the utility company to work out a payment plan to keep the lights on? You will HATE that lover who won’t do their share of the work.
Occasionally people ask me the secret to happily ever after and I will say one of the key things I’ve learned is that you must respect each other as partners and share the work of life.
The longer you do that, the more romantic and tender those jobs become.
When I talk to people who’ve recently lost their spouse, it’s never the exciting beach vacation they mention. They cry when they realize they have no idea when the car needs new tires because their sweetheart just quietly handled that all the years they were together.
Being strong partners creates a safe container for the lovers in your relationship.
So how do you know when the lover is out of balance in your relationship and it’s time to shore up your partnership skills?
You will know the lover is out of control in your relationship when you say or hear things like:
- Stop being my mother!
- You never help! I do all the work around here.
- In case you were wondering, I didn’t marry you so you could be my father. You’re not in charge of me.
- I’ll never be able to count on you.
If you’re saying these things, or hearing these things from your sweetheart, your happily ever after is in trouble. The relationship between your partner and your lover is strained at best and non-existent at worst.
Many couples face financial arguments, or conflict about sex. This is a mismatch between your lover and your partner roles. If one or the other gets over-bearing or over-looked, you can guarantee the demise of your happily ever after.
Wanting energy—like the lover supplies—is child energy: Vital, excited. Need energy—like the partner supplies—is parent energy: responsible, safe. Wanting energy is good for your sex life. Needing energy is good for the details of living.
That is why, when you notice accusations of parent or child behavior, you know there’s a mis-match between lover and partner in your relationship.
This week’s habit will help you begin to repair that relationship, or, keep your relationship tuned up if you feel lots of balance between the lover and the partner.
The Partner’s contribution is often invisible
The thing about the partner is often times their contribution to the relationship is invisible.
So, this habit is designed to shine a spotlight on the partner in your relationship and to give that partner the gold star recognition they crave.
Here’s the catch: your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to give yourself a gold star each time you make a partner contribution this week.
Each time you do something that makes you proud of how you’re making your home/life/or relationship safer by upholding a responsibility, your task is to make an announcement to your sweetheart.
- “I vacuumed today.”
- “I grocery shopped today.”
- “I got the license plates renewed on the car today.”
Announce how you’re making life better by taking care of the details.
I just heard your balloon deflate. Shucks! You’re thinking, but, Rebecca, I want my sweetheart to see my contribution and thank me.
I know. I totally get it.
You can only control your own actions
We can’t control how someone else behaves. You can’t MAKE your sweetheart give you a gold star. But you CAN recognize your own contributions. And this is soooo much more important than you’d think (We’ll be talking about this in the months to come).
It’s likely your sweetheart honestly doesn’t see your contribution. Announcing it gives your sweetheart a genuine opportunity to thank you…and give you the gold star you crave while your sweetheart simultaneously realizes oh, you mean the food doesn’t magically appear in the fridge?
Mostly, though, I’m concerned with helping you to see YOURSELF. Don’t wait for someone else to give your life value. Find your worth by living according to your value system. Announce your invisible contribution so your deepest self knows you’re living according to your values.
The other reason this proclamation habit will help your relationship is … what if you don’t have much to proclaim? What if a whole week goes by and you don’t have one of those Partner-y proclamations to announce. Maybe you’re not contributing much to the responsibility of running a house and life.
Good to know that you’re on the verge of making your sweetheart feel used and taken for granted, right?
So this week’s habit for your happily ever after is to proclaim your partnership contributions.
I’d love to give you a gold star. Text me at 970-210-4480 and let me know about the invisible tasks you do at your house.
Have you listened to my podcast about the feelings of being taken for granted?