“I’ll become more (loving/open/etc) when I see some relationship change from my spouse.”
I get it. Really, I do.
Allow me to illustrate how this isn’t going to change anything…
There is a great parable that relates to relationship change. I have no idea if there is an original version, so if you’ve heard this and it’s slightly different drop me a comment!
In a romantic relationship, we often feel like we’d be able to make a positive change if the other person went first and gave us something to work with. Sometimes this is because we feel slighted and want them to show up a little more. Sometimes we want them to prove something, take a turn trying. Sometimes we are just exhausted or frozen, wary of trying too hard if the other person isn’t going to do anything on their part for relationship change.
Here’s the Parable
There once was a guy in a very cold little yurt up in the mountains. There was an awesome wood burning stove there, and the guy was freezing to death. The guy was really upset that the stove wasn’t warming him, and he asked the stove to warm him so that he could make it through the night.
The stove replied, “I would love to warm you, but you have to supply me with firewood. I can’t warm you if I don’t have any.”
The guy says, “Well, I can’t go out in the freezing snow to get the wood on the porch until you give me some heat!“
You see where this is going. The dude froze to death.
We rely on each other to meet our needs in the relationship, but it’s not realistic to expect your needs to be met if the other person is freezing or running on empty. Paradoxically, we have to give something even if we are running on empty or freezing.
This is the catch-22 that people find themselves in, and I always say that it’s a gradual process. We can’t just snap into fully being there for someone who isn’t there for us. And we can’t expect that from our partners. With the help of a couples therapist, you can learn how to take small steps toward relationship that actually get you somewhere, and ultimately be able to really get what you need from the relationship. If you feel stuck in this kind of catch-22, let us help you untangle the mess so you don’t freeze!