“We judge others by their actions, and ourselves by our intentions,” says Stephen R. Covey, author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pople.”
In our own mind, we are often justified in what we say and do, but it is important, every now and then, to assess whether or where we ourselves might be hurting those we love. These relationship-repair reminders can help you course-correct:
Don‘t confuse “control“ with caring
Do you want to know everything–or at least most things–about your partner’s day, work, schedules? Do you start pacing, texting or even calling if they are “taking too long” somewhere other than being with you? And when they protest, is your answer often something like, “Oh, I was just worried about you.”
If so, sooner or later, the other person is going to start feeling suffocated. Because they care, they might dutifully tell you all about their movements and plans, but such a relationship slowly grows into one among unequals.
Of course, your concern could be genuine, but if you let it grow into a pattern, it can be perceived as an urge to control, replacing feelings of love with resentment. For you, here is a positive mantra:
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.“
–Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Next time, resist the urge to call or message. Physically put the phone away. Occupy yourself with something that you enjoy doing alone. Instead of: “What took you so long?” Say: “I hope you had a good meeting/wonderful time.” Give more space, and you will feel yourself drawing closer.
Don‘t give conditionally
So, you are the one your partner turns to in his or her time of need. That is only natural, and a wonderful sign that they feel you are there, no matter what. And of course, you offer your help and support without hesitation. But are you also offering it without condition?
While it is only human to have expectations from those to whom we give, sometimes, that expectation can ruin relationships. But this actually makes the other person feel guilty and implies that they are ungrateful. How much nicer it would be to give and to do only because you care enough. A beautiful mantra for those who tend to get weighed down by expectations:
“If someone is facing a difficult time, one of the kindest things you can do for him or her is to say, “I‘m just going to love you through this.“
-Molly Friedenfeld, The Book of Simple Human Truths
Instead of: “I always but you never do…” Say nothing! Just do it with a smile, and because you want to. If you feel there is a genuine lack of responsiveness from your partner, talk it out clearly, rather than express it in an accusatory way.
Don‘t overlook the small gestures
It is only too easy to conclude that the other person—be it your parent, child, spouse or friend—does not love you. All it takes is a few refusals on their part to give you their time or not saying “those three words” often enough. But it is important to stop before you judge: sometimes, we overlook the little acts of kindness and love that our dear ones show us.
It could be something as simple as offering to do the dishes or making you a cup of tea when your back hurts. They speak of deep caring!
Also, Some people are simply made such that they cannot demonstrate their love in words or even by giving you regular doses of hugs and kisses. If you have been equating lack of show with lack of love, here is a gentle reminder:
“He‘s not perfect. You aren‘t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn‘t going to quote poetry, he‘s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don‘t hurt him, don‘t change him, and don‘t expect for more than he can give.” –Bob Marley
Say “Thank you” to your partner more often.
• Instead of “He helps me with gardening but never brings me flowers,” say it the other way round: “He never brings me flowers but …” Remember, not everyone has someone who does thoughtful things for them.
• Don’t wait for them to give you a hug — go ahead and hold them close.
Meet the Writer: Chetna Srinivasan
A gifted designer and a qualified lawyer, the multifaceted Chetna Srinivasan is a freelance writer and book editor.