Invincible Victoria thinks we should look at ourselves closely when we feel our partner isn’t giving enough.
Recently, I met a gentleman named Kimo who was frustrated over his wife’s dependence and lack of support. After 14 years of marriage and giving birth to four children, she is a stay-at-home mom calling him almost every hour to update him on her whereabouts, tell him what she’s thinking about doing next, or ask what he wants for dinner, to do on the weekend, or where she should take the kids. She routinely calls from the store to inquire what color, what style, and what preference he has over things that have zero to do with him. Her behavior is cause for alarm.
Typically, situations like these stems from relationship conditioning. Kimo’s wife lost her autonomy and identity by relying on him to meet all her needs while at the same time justifying everything she does as an effort to please her man. I speak from first-hand experience, and I call this scenario text book’ stay-at-home mom syndrome.’
Even so, my due diligence forced me to ask Kimo, “What might you have done to cause her to behave this way? Did you start by checking in on her often, and now she just calls you instead? Have you ever come home blaming her for things such as not having enough money because she paid a bill, and now she feels she can’t make the right decisions? Do you get upset if she is with her friends? Is she simply trying to respect you?”
Kimo’s response was one of defeat. “I just wish she would stop calling. And I really don’t care what we eat for dinner.” His final answer was the nail in the coffin. “I just want her to make her own decisions. I have enough decisions to make at work. I work 11-16 hours. It may be long hours but, she and the kids have always had everything they’ve ever wanted, and there is plenty of money for her to buy nice things. If she wants to work she can, but she doesn’t have to work if she doesn’t want to. I try as much as I can to encourage her to go out with her friends or do something for her. I am more than willing to watch the kids. I love hanging with my kiddos.”
Ah-ha! The problem is not one-sided but deeply seeded and a tough one to fix. Fortunately, there is a fix.
1. Build Your Partner’s Confidence
Confidence isn’t just about telling your partner how beautiful she is (even though it is always beneficial). Confidence boosting is about building the other person up to believe in their ability to make good decisions and not have to consult your authority or opinion on every little detail of life. It’s been said we can only see in others what we see in ourselves; therefore, if your partner feels great about herself and knows you trust her to make great decisions (with the bills, with dinner, with the kids, with her career choices, etc.), most likely she will also feel great about you and your household leadership style.
2. Stop Playing Defense
Expect support. Don’t defend the need to be supported. Would you ever chastise the person you look up to? Probably not. Get on the offense with consistent positive dialogue in your communication. It’s hard to be mean to people who are amazing to us. So, be amazing, and you’ll get amazing in return!
Hold your own and walk away when negative words, blame, shame, or guilt is being thrown in your direction. Everything that happens to us is what we allow to happen to us. She will respect you more when you respect yourself.
3. Define Roles Clearly
Just like at work, set expectations of responsibility. This allows for accountability. Agree to be transparent and catch each other when you fall. You’re a team, not in competition. Disappointment will happen. Lift your partner up in their failures. When partners know what to expect and who is doing what, things flow more comfortably, and you will have validation and support.
4. Set Boundaries
Respect your time away from one another. Limit daily phone calls and check-ins. Do not over text. There’s no need to check up on one another ten times a day. Even it feels necessary or good, it’s obsessive. Loosen up on the constant contact and be firm about your boundary of independence. Also, if you’ve talked about everything during the day, there is no opportunity to connect when you see one another in the evening at home.
5. Schedule Life Events
Schedule things and stick to the plan. This can give you both space and freedom and clearly defined timelines needed to achieve specific goals. Your partner is a person with his or her own thoughts, feelings, and daily habits, just as you are. Making a plan makes everyone’s needs concrete and allows you both to visualize and embrace each other’s needs.
6. Create Time for Intimacy
Women who feel cherished, needed, and desired tend to support, encourage and respect their partners.
Intimacy is not sex. However, intimacy done the right way will most often lead to your lover engaging. Intimacy is created by deeply profound conversations—on life, on love, on hopes, and dreams. It is the foundation of your bond. It is all the reasons you fell in love to begin with. By engaging in open and vulnerable dialogue, you take care of her emotional needs before you demand that she meet your sexual desires. And guess who else will reap the rewards of emotional need-meeting? You! Because in addition to paving the way for lovemaking, you will be getting your own emotional needs met, too.
7. Focus on Building Your Dreams Together
Never stop dreaming. Shared dreams are a huge part of a couple’s intimate connection. Even if your partner is a realist, the most exciting part of any journey is waiting in expectation of getting there. Dream building keeps romance alive, and building the foundational blocks of your dreams encourages your partner to support your needs. After all, you’re not being selfish when you’re devoting your energy towards achieving a common goal.
8. Keep Life in Balance
The more you isolate yourself or become one-sided, the more isolated and disconnected your partner will feel. The result is a partner who either becomes either extremely clingy or extremely distant. Either way, she wants you back in the intimacy zone. When you’re not balanced, your partner isn’t either. Create planned time or space for you and your partner to spend intimate time together, and you will have more success inviting your partner to make time or space for your needs too.
9. Explain What Support Means to You
No one likes to be told what to do. But we also can’t assume another person’s intuitively understands our needs. So, approach the situation delicately, but do find an appropriate way to have a conversation and tell her what makes you feel good and what makes you feel unsupported or inadequate. Remind her you are human. Try to use encouraging phrases such as, “It means a lot to me when …” and positive examples such as “You always know how to make me feel amazing. One of those times was …” Lead with the good, not the bad.
10. Show Gratitude and Give Praise
Once upon a time every little thing you did for one another meant a lot and was met with appreciation. Not taking one another for granted can go a long way in recognizing what you have. Even when it’s something as simple as putting the dishes away, try saying thank you and keeping up your courtesy. You may appreciate your partner deeply, but a perceived lack of appreciation can be a killer in long-term relationships. Praise works wonders to restore that loving feeling you enjoyed in the early days.
Just as keeping physically fit takes effort, so does creating healthy lasting relationships. You may be in a mental place where you feel defeated by your partner’s ability to provide encouragement and support as you sink down in a spiral of negativity. The steps to relationship reconditioning I’ve offered here are not an overnight fix. Shifting unhealthy relationship dynamics takes time. Consistent good habits must be practiced and reinforced. If you try these steps and keep at it, something is bound to give. Nothing changes unless you change it. Be the example you want, and you will receive the support you need.