Exercise: Do you do things with your partner because you have to or want to? What’s a healthy split?

Ok, let’s go over the two golden rules for all Compass exercises:

Rule One:  You have to be honest, lying to yourself is not going to get you anywhere.

Rule Two:  Please refer to rule one.

This exercise is about trying to find out how you see your relationship and, perhaps even more importantly, how does your partner see your relationship. Is your relationship a place to go to for relaxation and fun, or is it a place to go to for duties and functional interactions? Is your relationship an asset for feeling good, or is it an energy sapping liability? There is no such thing as 100% one way or the other. However, sometimes we use this argument to help us justify our relationship being far more of a liability than an asset.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the journey from a wonderful asset to an energy sapping lability is very slow and gradual. Therefore because things are good now, it does not mean that they will continue like this forever. You maybe unwittingly practicing bad habits that you don’t even realise are pushing down that slow gradual journey from fun to functional.

So let’s get to it…….

I’d like you to make two lists. Call one list, the ‘Have To’ list, and call the other the ‘Want To’ list. For the next seven days, I’d like you to notice things you do with your partner. Pay attention to the day to day stuff; for example:

  1. Talking/calling/texting: Let’s say your phone rings or you get a text and it’s from your partner, what is your feeling? Will you say to yourslef “Wipppeeeee, we’re going to have fun and banter, even if the subject matter is something functional, we’ll sprinkle it with humour and make it personal, as usual”. Or will you think that the tone will be matter of fact where the aim is to exchange info and get the job done, banter is so last year? How about when you ring/text your partner, do you think “I want to because I need a break, I need a giggle”, or do you think “I have to so I don’t cause friction”? If your feeling is linked to fun or care or love or wanting to put a smile on your face or your partner’s face, then put it down in the ‘want to’ column, if not, put is in the ‘have to’ column.
  2. Your social life together: How many of your social functions will you do because you want to, vs you have to? If your reaction is “I have to do this because he asked me to” or “I have to go otherwise we’ll argue” or “I really don’t want to but to make her happy I will because she is so cute” or “I hate Ballet but I really love him so I will go”, put all these in the ‘have to’ column. If your reaction is “This is fun, I actually would have gone even if he/she wasn’t going”, put it in the ‘want to’ column.
  3. Your home time: How much of what you do at home is have to and how much is want to? Whether its watching some TV programme, cleaning, tidying, playing music, reading, other hobbies or having friends over; do you do it because you want to?

I think you get the point…..

At the end of the week, look at the ratio. A healthy ratio is one where the ‘want to’ is far more than the ‘have to’ (let’s say the split is 70/30) and of course your partner’s split needs to also be the same. If it is, well done, you truly have a friendship where you prioritise putting a smile on the other’s face over the functionality of life because you really are friends who love each other. Your children have a much higher chance of growing up to be secure and grounded. Keep doing this and continue to check twice, three times a year, complacency is the enemy.

If it’s not, if the split is 50/50, or even worse, if the ‘have to’ is higher, you need to pause and think. This is a dangerous road. This is how mental separation starts and the end result can be anything form two bored strangers, affairs, actual physical separation, or your children learning that feeling good and being loved is something that happens outside the home. Do not ignore such a situation, either turn things around, or consider the possibility that you are together to tick boxes, to have a status that says ‘not single’ and in today’s world, this is very unhealthy.

You need to inject fun in your everyday life; hopefully this is something that you actually want to do, you just got into the habit of being complacent and taking each other for granted because all of us are fed so much BS and false wisdom that says ‘real life takes over’, ‘the fun stops after the honeymoon period’, ‘it’s time to grow up and be responsible’ and the many other pearls of wisdom that ensure love and fun leave the building. Do not fall for this, it’s not true. The whole point of being with someone is to enhance the fun, not to share the misery.

As always, all comments or questions are welcome. Use the free chat facility on the website, get in touch on social media, comment on the posts page or just send an email. I’d love to hear from you….

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