We enter our marriage relationships, trailing all our childhood baggage behind us. And it can weigh us down, sometimes very heavily. Our present family either reinforces our bad past self-image, or they can help us form a new self-image, help us to throw away that heavy baggage!
Married to give love or receive love?
We all think we get married because we’re in love. But maybe the focus is more on ME than on YOU! I need you ..I can’t live without you etc., me, me, me! We see someone who can meet our needs, the gaps that we see in our lives, our unmet needs. ‘Opposites attract – what a true statement! So many people get married with high expectations of their partner to meet their unmet needs. Get this straight now, NO single person can possibly meet all of another person’s needs!
Deep inner love
We are only really able to meet our partner’s needs when we have the deep inner belief of how dearly we are loved by God. Grounding our self-esteem in God’s love for us gives us security and we won’t feel so devastated when our partner does fail us. And we do fail each other, expect it!
To manipulate or to love
You have a choice to either manipulate your partner or love them.
To manipulate your partner is to have your own needs uppermost, the self comes first and your behavior is aimed towards having your own needs met. You’re trying to control the other person, which we have no right to do. It means you’re not accepting them as they are and want to change them into somebody who will better meet your needs.
On the other hand we can choose to pour out love to our partner. Each marriage partner is in the unique position of being the only one able to truly love their partner through unconditional acceptance and love. Be on the lookout for your partners needs and try to meet them. You might be surprised how the love in your relationship will sky-rocket!
If your partner has some quirky or even uncharacteristic behavior try to look at the needs behind the behavior. All our behavior is motivated by a need, so trying to decipher the need might give a bit more understanding of the behavior.
- A wife complaining about her husband spending too much time at work could have more to do with her insecurity. Just hearing the complaint, the response might be ‘you should know I have no choice, the boss is putting pressure on me’. Responding rather to the insecurities behind the message, the needs will be met, the wife will feel loved.
- Maybe a wife’s anger with her husband for being late has not got so much to do with his being late, but with a childhood fear of abandonment. Surely this understanding will stop a heated battle from happening.
Sorry these are ‘wife’ examples – will have to think up some male examples! Even if your partner behaves in a way that bugs you, try to see what needs the person is trying to get met. It’s usually not just to irritate you but could just be a peculiar way of trying to get a need met. Also the stronger the emotion, the greater the need. So don’t criticize the emotion by shouting back ‘don’t be so emotional!’
How do you get your needs met?
Does sulking, or the silent treatment sound familiar? Or being manipulative, being devious, or getting angry. These are all extremely bad ways of getting your needs met, to say the least!
Or do you honestly express your needs, allowing your partner the choice to meet your needs. Try keeping to ‘I feel’ statements. In this way you own your feelings rather than resorting to the ‘blame game’. To say ‘I feel unloved when you come home late’ is far more effective than shouting ‘you don’t love me or else you’d come home early’. The ‘I feel…’ statement comes across without blame and gives your partner freedom in choosing to meet your need.
Life is a journey.
Enjoy the journey, even if your partner irritates you at times! Hopefully we can learn and grow within the safety and security of our marriage relationship.