Relationships Aren’t 50/50: Change Your Mindset, Change Your Relationship

This picture features Tarron and me in Germany, 2019. Another way our relationship isn’t equal is one of us is going to get more ice cream! I’ll let you guess who.

A LOVEY DOVEY QUOTE ON THE INTERNET

Some lovey dovey quote on the internet says relationships are 50/50. If you or your spouse is struggling, then it might be 80/20 once in a while.

I don’t know that I have ever found these numbers to be insightful or helpful in any way. In fact, I find them damaging.

If I feel like I have been giving 80 and my husband has been giving 20, then I will be dissatisfied until Tarron gives me more. What if at the same, Tarron thought he was giving 80 all this time? I think that this way of thinking assumes that husbands and wives should be giving equally or at least averaging out to be equal, but what does that even mean?

EQUALITY — I DON’T THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS

I honestly don’t think “equality” should be a factor when expressing love — not to say that husbands and wives are not equally important, valuable, and deserving of equal respect in the relationship — but because each person is so unique it is more important to learn and focus all your energy on learning how to love your spouse and learning how you like to be loved. Those will not be the same and there is no way to gauge what is equal. It’s not an eye for an eye or a back scratch for a back scratch because although I love back scratches, they are much higher on the “Needs list” for Tarron than they are for me. We interpret back scratches differently. Not to mention the fact that I’m convinced I give better back scratches and so even those aren’t equal, haha.

I think that a healthy and loving relationship requires that both the husband and wife know that their significant other NEEDS to feel loved EVERY DAY.

Having this in mind, I will intentionally put in effort to show Tarron I love him everyday. I literally plan what I am going to do and then I do it! These planned actions go beyond the natural welcome home kiss, asking about his day, if I happen to make dinner, or the kind actions that come naturally. If I didn’t plan it and do it intentionally then it doesn’t count as my daily intentional effort to show my love for Tarron.

Now, let me be clear, I DON’T tell him, “Hey, this is what I’m doing to do to show you I love you today.” because that would kind of ruin it and make him feel like loving him is a chore. So, I do make an assignment for myself, but that stays private — that assignment is just for me so that I know I am trying in my relationship. AND, I don’t know if Tarron also does this. Whether or not he does, I don’t care! I know that I am feeling a bounteous amount of love and I think that it might be correlated to the fact that I’ve become better at expressing love! A reap what you sow kind of thing…

STEPS TO SHOWING INTENTIONAL LOVE EVERY DAY

The first step is to think about what could be meaningful to your spouse — what is their love language?

It is important to figure out how your spouse best feels loved because otherwise you’ll be expressing love, but they won’t be feeling it and their needs won’t be met. I think this can be easily solved with a conversation. Blatantly ask your spouse what kinds of things they find meaningful! Ask them how they’d like to be loved!

Some of the things that I intentionally do to express love for Tarron are:

  • Give him back scratches
  • Give him massages
  • Affectionate touches like rubbing his shoulder or knee when I sit by him
  • Buying him a surprise treat
  • Planning a date night
  • I sit by him and show an interest in what he is working on
  • I plan special dinners that I know he likes
  • Give him a big hug
  • I fold the laundry because I know he hates to

— just to name a few.

If your spouse is like me and doesn’t know what to say — they aren’t sure how they like to feel loved specifically — then pick different things to try and see how your spouse responds to it.

Try to have the conversation again after a couple days to see if anything stood out to them.

HEALTHY HABITS HELP WHEN MENTAL HEALTH DECLINES

When I first started this daily goal, it was difficult to make it a habit. However, once I got it down, the habit really helped during many of my “mental health episodes” — when I’d have a day or couple of days of anxiety, stress, or depression that made it more difficult to love or feel loved.

By getting myself to plan something and do it, even if it’s just resting my head on Tarron’s shoulder instead of avoiding all human interaction, it made me feel like I was still trying my best, even if my best was a pretty low standard.

I learned that I can ALWAYS do at least one thing a day. By intentionally planning things, I ensure that love is shown even on the days where affection doesn’t come naturally to me. Even if I’m at my worst, I recognize that Tarron still deserves to feel loved, EVERY DAY. *And so do I! So I need to keep working on finding the best ways that I like to feel loved, even if I’m uber stressed or anxious and I need to communicate those to Tarron*

The times where my own advice was damaging to me was when I wasn’t sure what Tarron would want and I didn’t ask. I used to think that leaving Tarron alone — so as to not burden him — was going to be the best way to show love for him when I was doing poorly. I didn’t want to dampen his mood with my somberness. That was poor reasoning on my part and VERY WRONG! I learned that does NOT work for our relationship. So, after some conversations, I learned and I adapted. I figured out what he would need and what I would need to still feel loved during these harder moments.

This habit of daily intentional expressions of love has been so helpful in the past and I can see a difference in myself and my relationship when I’m doing it versus when I’m not doing it.

BENEFITS

One major benefit to doing this is: as I intentionally try to love and serve Tarron, I feel better about myself and I notice and appreciate when Tarron does things for me more often. As I become more aware, I become more grateful. Then, there is another way I can show more intentional love!

I think it’s easy to just expect things from a loved one or to fall into a keeping score (equal effort) mindset, but my philosophy is that will never lead to happiness. And as I said before, it’s impossible to equate what equal even means between two very different thinking and feeling people.

When I am not feeling adequately loved, it’s not because I’m putting in way more effort than Tarron or that he is slacking… because I KNOW he loves me. It probably means that my needs have changed and I have to figure out what Tarron can do to more effectively help me feel loved and I need to communicate that. Communication is essential!

INVITATION

If you think that this habit may be beneficial for you and your relationship, please try it!!

I have found a lot of joy in doing this exercise and it’s never a chore for me. I will never regret being kind to a loved one and I think it’s an honor to love and to be loved by someone else.

………………………….

THANK YOU

Many of you are repeat readers to my blog series and I want to thank you for all of your love and support! Thank you! Thank you!

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