Are You Accidentally Turning Your Partner Away? Most of us are. We unknowingly depreciate them, when it’d be so much nicer to appreciate them. And this wouldn’t matter so much if appreciating each other weren’t the core foundation to a long happy marriage. But, it is.
Most people reading this may think “I don’t shame, judge, criticize, or critique my partner — that often.”
But, just to make sure, check it out with your partner. And, don’t ask, Do I criticize you? That’s like saying, Do these pants make my butt look big? No one in their right mind is going to give you a straight answer.
Instead ask, What are some of the ways I criticize or ignore you? Your partner may hesitate to tell you — especially if both of you are tense and reactive towards each other. If so, say something like, If I ever make you feel bad, would you please point it out to me?
After all, the essence of being in a relationship is that you are the one person on earth whose primary hope is to make your partner feel good about themselves. The outside world is hard enough on us all, and we’re hard enough on ourselves too.
Plus, we cannot demand love nor assert that it’s a right by marital contract. It really isn’t. Hence, the statistics of infidelity. The best way for us to get the love we want — and build a happy marriage — is to appreciate our partners, not control our partners.
Like it or not, we’re destined to accidentally turn away from our partner, or even make them feel rejected. As relationship expert Dr. Dan Wile says, The point is not to never do it; the point is to notice when we have done it — and to sincerely apologize. Ideally, the partner in return will go easy on you, because they know they’re not so good at this stuff either. Being human is messy.
The point is not to never do it; the point is to notice when we have done it — and to sincerely apologize.
It’s not like we get up in the morning and intentionally want to tick off our partner. (Well, maybe if you’re starring in a t.v. soap opera but otherwise. . .)
Three Reasons You Are Turning Your Partner Away
More typically, you are turning your partner away because unconsciously you want to:
- Protect your sense of significance
- Maintain your autonomy and freedom
- Avoid being ignored or rejected yourself
Short List On How You Might Be Turning Your Partner Away
- Criticizing in front of other people
- Not replying
- Not making eye-contact
- Rolling eyes
- Giving the look
- Walking away
- Using harsh tone to get through to your partner
- Pointing out what he/she is doing wrong
- Pointing out what he/she is not doing well enough
- Pointing out what he/she is not doing exactly as you’d like it done
- Being in a bad mood around your partner, but not your friends
- Expecting the other to match your level of energy and use of time
- Ignoring the other’s needs that you think are unimportant
- Sarcasm & Teasing
Expanded List. In case you’re still not convinced you’re turning your partner away
- Focusing on what he/she didn’t do, not what they did do
- Making plans and decisions without first including the other.
- Robbing the other of the opportunity to help by over-functioning and over-doing:
- Correcting what the other says or thinks.
- Giving unsolicited, menial advice: “Why don’t you_____?” — “If you do it this way. .”
- Making unrealistic demands of the other’s time and energy
- Overreacting, which is a form of criticizing another’s choices or behavior: “I can’t believe you didn’t _____ .”
- Withholding appreciation. Thinking there’s no need to say thank you.
- Questioning the other’s judgement: “Why are you _____?” — “You’re kidding right?”
- Choosing friends over his/her company, without checking in first w/your partner
- Putting your kids’ desires above your partner’s: Kids’ desires are important. However, this tends to get over-exercised. Kids can learn how to tolerate life’s disappointments by observing and experiencing their parents choosing mommy or daddy more often.
- Showing little interest or curiosity in the other’s interests:
- Not looking at them while they are talking.
- Using your smartphone in presence of the other.
- Or flat out saying in so many words: “That’s your thing. Not mine.”
- Too often forgetting what they had shared earlier.
- Not asking and following-up about something that’s big for them.
- Ignoring the other’s quiet needs and dreams. This says they’re not important to you.
- Denying that your partner has made sacrifices for you big and small — that he or she has put you first in many ways, daily and over a lifetime. AND you don’t thank your partner for their patience/sacrifice.
- Undermining or manipulating the other’s wishes: “I know he said such and such, but if ____.” — “I agreed I’d get home early tonight, but she wouldn’t say no if I told her the sports tickets were free.”
- Diminishing the other’s grievances: “It’s not that big of a deal” — “I don’t see what the big deal is.” — “Really? You gotta start with that right now?” — Or how about giving the look and sigh of, “Okay, here we go again.” (Point is to see that more is going on beneath the surface; i.e., your partner loves you and needs reassurance that you love him/her.)
- Mind-Reading: “What you really meant when you said you’re tired is that you don’t want to listen to me.”
- Psychoanalyzing: “You are trying to make up for your father…”
- Comparing: “The neighbor’s house is so much prettier.”
- Generalizing: “You always…” or “You wouldn’t understand.”
- Believing you know what’s best for the relationship: “If you’d only listen to me, I know about these things…” — “I’m with the kids all day so I know what they need…”
- Framing your expectations as rules or truths, vs. requests or wants: “It’s really important that you join us for the afternoon.”
- Suggesting how the other should feel
- Assuming they wouldn’t have ideas or interest about your area of expertise
- Assessing him/her by the same standards as you do your friends. We don’t live with our friends.
- Teasing the other’s efforts
- Suggesting a “better way”: Why don’t you. . . — Why can’t you just. . . — Why aren’t you. . . — If you had done such and such, this wouldn’t be happening. . . — It’d be a lot better if you’d just. . .
- Condescending: “You do okay (chuckle.)” — “Yeah, whatever you say.”
- Casual Name-calling: “You’re so grumpy today.” — “You’re being nasty.”
Open Ended Conclusion
At the end of this blog, like so many of my quick posts, I know I’m suppose to write a good conclusion. (Wish I were that good at writing.) Rather, I’ll leave this post open-ended like a good creative marriage. Yes, really. But I’ll also link you to a conclusively good-good read, like a good couples counselor would.