Last week we published a video post entitled “How to Make Your Husband Happy” that included a few tips from us on what works for men. A couple of the things we recommended were to “Tell him he is a good man” and “Give him points for effort”.
This week we published another video post entitled “How to Make Your Wife Happy” where we recommend, among other things, leaning into the relationship, talking more about yourself and listening attentively when she shares.
I spoke with a woman who had resistance to these ideas. She said, “Why is it my job to make him happy? Even when I do the things you suggest, it feels like it is never enough. He is like an empty well who never gets filled up. I think he should have to fill himself up!”
Ideally, she is right. It would be wonderful if we were all self-sourcing and didn’t need anything from anyone to reassure us of our value, worth and lovability. It would be amazing if we all had high self-esteem and the ability to unconditionally love our selves and others.
But most of us aren’t there yet. We have not yet reached that enlightened state of holding our center and unequivocally knowing our worth in the face of all life throws at us. While we are well aware of our own shortcomings in the face of these perfectionistic ideals, it doesn’t stop us from wanting or expecting our partners to be unconditionally loving, powerful, present, and non-reactive 100% of the time.
Until we all achieve this ability to be self-validating and self-sourcing, we believe we can help each other by providing encouragement, appreciation and applause along the way. The more I tell you what is good about you, what I love about you, and what you give and provide that touches me, the better able you are to hold these positive images about yourself for longer and longer periods.
With this continued practice of appreciation and loving engagement, over time you can heal and replace the negative stories you took on from your past with the new positive stories we reinforce together in our relationship. As I keep mirroring back to you the positive reflections of you that I see and appreciate, the more you will be able to see yourself in that same positive light, and with that sustained reflection over time, you will eventually need less external validation.
While we can help fill each other up with appreciation, and the giving of our hearts, bodies and minds to the relationship, it is irresponsible for us to have our spouse be our only fueling station!
I cannot fill ALL of my partner’s needs nor can my partner fill all of my needs. In that sense, the woman who said her husband is like an empty well is right. He must take responsibility for his own happiness too. She cannot unilaterally fill him up. It won’t matter how much she acknowledges him, has sex with him, and respects his choices if he doesn’t also take ownership of developing and growing himself from the inside out.
While I value Christian’s focused appreciation on a daily basis, I am also sure to do my own work to grow myself into a mature woman who feels beautiful, sexy, powerful and wise. I have places outside of our relationship where I connect to my value, where I grow and learn and develop myself spiritually. I have developed other relationships and cultivated outside activities that bring me joy and remind me that I am a good person worthy of love.
When I do this – when I fill myself up and accept Christian’s positive affirmations – and when he does the same – develops himself while also receiving my deep appreciations – we work effectively together as synergistic partners towards the achievement of this unconditionally loving high self-esteem goal that we both share.
What if the giving and cheerleading is one-sided in your relationship? What if you are the only one giving and the other person just wants you to keep filling them up without reciprocity or taking responsibility for their own happiness and fulfillment? What if the thought of giving to your partner breeds resentment?
Your relationship is out of balance – either in actuality or perception. You are caught in a downward spiral. Your resentment is an attempt to restore balance and create positive change. Giving more to your partner on top of resentment will only exacerbate your frustration and anger and perpetuate the disconnection between you.
For starters, take care of yourself. Engage in nourishing activities for your body and soul. Take responsibility for your own wellbeing and happiness. Fill yourself up. This will go a long ways in changing the unhealthy downward spiral dynamics in your relationship.
Next, get outside support! Contact us for coaching. Or participate in any of our upcoming 90-minute mini-workshops or our weekend online course. It requires education and training to learn new practices for shifting from the negative track to the positive track.
Rest assured, it IS possible to help make each other and yourself happy!