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  • David Flowers

The Only Thing Your Partner Needs from You

Updated: Jan 27



Photo source: https://www.quotemaster.org/fixing+other+people%27s+problems

"I just want my partner to be the best they can be."

I hear this all the time. It seems like a nice sentiment. Until you really get to thinking about it.

Can you see where the problem comes in here?

The problem is who gets to decide whose best is best.

She just wants him to be as successful at work as possible. He knows being as successful as she wants him to be will require that he spend most of his life at work, and he'd rather be home with the kids more. In fact, being home as much as possible for his kids is his idea of being the best he can be.

He just wants her to be reaching for some kind of goal in life. He doesn't care what it is, but he wants her to pick a goal and work hard at it. But her idea of being her best is cultivating the ability to take each moment as it comes and enjoy it all.

What do these two couples have in common? Each wants a best version of their spouse that their spouse doesn't want for themselves.

Your version of your best spouse, no matter how great it may seem to you, is yours. It comes from your own value systems, and spouses often do not share the same values.

Your spouse, primarily, does not need you to solve their problems, help them become a better person, or attain higher goals. Your spouse really only needs one thing from you and that's to know you have their back.

I know -- you think in wanting this other version of your spouse, you do have their back. But if your spouse doesn't really want to be the person you want them to be, they will experience this not as you wanting what's best for them, but for yourself.

Your love for your spouse must be love for them as they are, and as they want to be, not as you'd like them to be, even if you think it's for their sake.

So how you have your partner's back?

Empathy.

Let's say your spouse comes home after a long day and tells you a story about something terrible that happened at work. You don't show empathy by saying, "Here's what you should have done," or "How do you think you could have prevented that," or "Why do you think he said that to you?" You show empathy by saying, "I'm so sorry that happened to you -- that really sucks." Or, "That must have been really embarrassing." Or, "I can't even imagine what it would feel like for that to happen -- it makes me angry for you just thinking about it, you deserve so much better!" These are empathic statements. These say to your spouse, "I am listening to you, I am experiencing this from your perspective, I am walking through this next to you and with you," not standing above them telling them how to fix the problem.

Of course problems need to be solved. But that's not your primary role as a spouse. Did you know that? Helping your spouse solve one of their problems only shows you have their back when they have asked you to play that role, otherwise it says you want to fix them because their problems are inconvenient for you or you don't know how to deal with their emotions.

John Maxwell says "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Caring comes first. Solving problems comes later, and only when the person with the problem asks for help solving it.

I want to end this post by repeating something I wrote earlier in the post that you may still be struggling to get your head around. Spend as long as it takes on these words to internalize them and see their truth so you can live into them. I promise you won't regret it.

Your spouse, primarily, does not need you to solve their problems, help them become a better person, or attain higher goals. Your spouse really only needs one thing from you and that's to know you have their back.

See, you can't be Tony Robbins to your partner. And if Tony Robbins wants a strong marriage, he can't be Tony Robbins to his spouse either. He just has to be the guy that has her back. I'm not my wife's therapist, I'm her husband. Your spouse doesn't need you to fix them -- they just need you to have their back.

#fixing #problems #empathy

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