“It is such an effort to get him to help me out, that I save my energy and do it myself. Yes! I’m tired of constantly telling, what needs to be done. Why can’t you know how to help out?” cried out Neena.
"Yesterday, I entered my house after work to see the dishes in the sink, leftover food lying open on the dining table, and clothes in the living room. I swallow hard to gulp the anger from spilling out. I don’t know where to start or how to react, when the person sitting in front of you isn’t bothered enough.
After a long, tiring day, all you expect is that your partner puts any effort into making your life a little easier or giving you a break from things you do every day. Small mundane tasks, take out the garbage, load the machine, turn off the lights, put the toilet seat down, that you keep reminding.
Is it so much to ask? And then I get the reaction, 'Why are you making such a big of a deal?' Why do we have to constantly ask our partners to do things
they should automatically do. Can’t they see the mess lying around or they just pretend, or they know their spouse is going to do it.
It frustrates to see empty cups lying around, in spite of constant reminders. It shows they have no acknowledgment, respect, validation, for what do we say. They could have done it, but chose not to and kept on doing this over and over again.
It’s not about the stuff lying around. It’s about what it stands for. It feels disrespectful, as if they don’t care. We don’t want to micromanage our spouses." Neena shares her daily struggle.
Relationship undergoes strife for these mundane tasks. Apparently, these subtle but potentially destructive behaviors creep into a relationship and sabotage how you and your partner feel about each other and slowly starts impacting your relationship fabric.
A healthy relationship requires equilibrium, where two emotionally mature partners are equally invested, equally involved, and equally responsible. To lead a balanced life, they love, care, compromise, respect, and stay considerate of each other while maintaining their individuality.
But an imbalance of power creeps in when one partner assumes that they need to take up majority of responsibility for household chores, financial load, decision making, or they feel solely responsible for another person’s well-being, like a parent would do.
Then they subconsciously take on the parent and child’s role in their relationship and get stuck in a pattern where one dominates the other, disturbing the balance, leading to piles of resentments and unmet needs. And such inequality between spouses slowly erodes mutual attraction.
Why does this dysfunctional pattern cause a problem?
Partners aren’t a parent.
Parents take care of children. They act as a provider and trouble-shooter. They control, demand, and act authoritatively. Even such parent and child relationship dynamics won’t last long; children rebel after a point.
Imagine similar dynamics playing out in other relationships or marriage. What would be the impact?
Over the period of time, one partner feels that the other isn’t sharing the load and contributing enough, leading to frustration, demeaning interactions, unrealistic expectations, blatant disrespect and control,
while the other partner feels belittled, disrespected, angry, bitter, confined, discontent, and unwilling to play the part of a child anymore.
Slowly, the communication between them turns more into nags, prods, dictation, scolding, and eventually, to fights.
How do partners get into this dysfunctional pattern?
Initially, one partner feels flattered to get major attention, while the other partner feels elevated for being needed and holding a controlling position. But problems develop over time as the inequality in this dynamic becomes glaring and leads to resentment from both partners.
What is the reason behind such behavior?
A lot of what we learn about relationships is established when we’re children. Also, our relationship with our parents unconsciously impacts the way we interact with our spouse.
They had helicopter parents
Children of helicopter parents, whose parents carried absolute responsibility for their needs, struggle to own up to their lives and feel independent.
Their parents were unavailable
Children need secure emotional attachment. When they have not received the parenting and care they probably craved as children, as adults, they tend to ignore their weaknesses and let the other rule over them.
Such children whose parents were emotionally unavailable don’t know how to voice their concerns, take responsibility, and feel connected with their partner.
They learnt from their surroundings
As a child, they might have seen their parents undervaluing relationships or they might have encouraged irresponsibility and emotional unawareness, which is what they eventually carried into their marriages.
They were conditioned by society and the environment
Society tells the boys that household chores aren’t their responsibility and to girls that marriage is their ultimate destination. As adults, we must know how to self-care and not just look to someone else to correct our emotions. In fact, what we need to focus on as adults is acceptance of our feelings.
How to resolve these issues:
You need to come out of the role you unconsciously play, change the old pattern, and build new one by treating each other as equals.
Build a peer-based relationship
You can’t control your partner’s behavior, but can control your own. Show concern and care in a healthy way. Move away from your default setting of owning up all the responsibilities as yours. Even though it seems easier to you, still share the load and ask for help.
Often we overlook how to communicate correctly, resolve conflict, and listen actively.
That’s why to head off hurt feelings, resentment, and disrespect, pay attention to how you communicate. Also see that both of you honor each other’s contribution to the relationship.
Avoid belittling language or talk like “and that’s my final decision” such talks have no place in an equal relationship. It’s hurtful, humiliating, and damaging to your relationship.
Share responsibility, but avoid micromanaging
If you have a tendency to follow up to see if the work you assigned is done or not, then your partner won’t complete the task on purpose and the cycle continues.
So avoid being consumed with worries, exerting control, checking-in, micromanaging, and stepping in when you see them failing, or cleaning up after they leave.
Guys respond much better to clear requests. That’s why, instead of passing critical remark, like “Wow, no one sees clothes lying around”, directly ask, “Hey, can you load the washing machine?”
Use humor to put your point across, when you tease him about leaving the stuff around, it gets the point across without any unnecessary friction.
Support in their independence
Support your partner when they are struggling and listen to them. Come together as a team and make joint decisions about your relationship and running the household.
Let your partner make mistakes and face the consequences of being forgetful or making the wrong decision.
And lastly, set firm boundaries around the way you expect to be treated.
Finally, be respectful and remember to thank your partner for the help, grown-up to grown-up! Have you ever felt trapped in similar dynamics? Share your experience in the comment below to let us know how you feel and deal with such situations.