What would happen if I treated my partner the way I want to be treated?
I read something today by one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist. She wrote about a familiar phrase that some of us learn from a young age: "Love your neighbor as yourself." We could also summarize that as the Golden Rule, reminding ourselves that we will often interact with others differently when we consider how we would like to be treated.
But then her words took a turn that stopped me in my tracks: "Whatever neighborhoods you live in throughout your life, your [partner] will always be your number one neighbor...I have the honor of affecting [my partner's] life more than any other person."
The neighbor who knows me the best and with whom I'm the closest, can be the one I disregard the most. Just because I'm a couple's therapist doesn't mean I've figured this out. And it really is such a matter of choosing, isn't it? I could choose to keep a file of all of the times that my neighbor-husband has wronged me or hurt me or angered me or been plain selfish, and he could present just as much evidence back to me.
But I have the "honor" of affecting his life deeply, for better or worse. I have the choice in helping or hindering him in becoming his true self, in growing and changing, in pursuing his dreams and desires.
So let's consider these questions together:
- What would it look like to treat my neighbor-partner as I would like be treated?
- What gets in the way of my doing so?
- How might my relationship be different/healthier/better if I chose to care for my partner the way I desire care?
- In what ways am I affecting my partner, for better and worse?
- What do I choose?
If there's any way I can help with these questions or conversations, just let me know. The growth and transformation isn't going to create itself, but we don't have to go it alone.
With you and for you,