This week’s podcast is based as many of my episodes are on something which has happened in my own life and I then reflect on how I used mind-body tools or techniques to help the situation. What to do when your partner just doesn’t get it. This one starts off with a story about my partner and I. If you have listened to my podcast before you know I occasionally rant but this one I deliberately waited and recorded a week after the original incident so it is more of a reflection and I share four steps of positive actions you can take if your partner (or friend or family member) really doesn’t get what you’re going through right now.
1 Stop expecting your partner to get it!
This may seem like slightly odd advice but maybe your partner just isn’t capable of giving you the level of support that you need. On the podcast I share how my partner gave me a total of seven minutes to digest some shocking information before telling me to move on and let it go. I was in no position right then to let it go. I needed to embrace my emotions, feel that anger and process the shock.
2 Learn what your partner’s preferred communication method is
I talk about the amazing (if very stereotypical) book John Gray’s ‘Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus’. (No affiliation.) Reading this book gave me so many lightbulbs about arguments I had with my partner. In short women need to vent and just want a sympathetic ear when they have a problem. Men on the other hand only talk about their problems when they are looking for advice and solutions.
To really delve into the workings of your relationship I highly recommend reading the book, it is a practical guide for improving communication and getting what you want in your relationships. It is full of observations on the differences between men and women, and while being incredibly stereotypical he could be writing about my marriage in many of the chapters! I also recommend reading this even if you are same-sex relationship as I think you would still find it enlightening.
A really quick run through of the concepts I identified with the most (with permission from John Gray):
When men are stressed they go to their caves to solve the problem on their own.
This is a sign of manhood. If he cannot solve the problem on his own he will ask for help as a last resort. If you offer a man helpful advice or encouragement without him asking for it you are denting his manhood. So every time you are trying to be helpful and loving by saying:
“Do you have your keys? Have you fed the cat? Did you ring your mum back? You look stressed do you want to talk about it? Shall I call a plumber? You’re not doing it right! It would be better if you did it this way.”
You are in fact doing the equivalent of belittling him in front of his friends. Who knew! I thought I was being helpful. This has rung so true in our relationship, if Luke went quiet and didn’t want to talk I assumed I had done something wrong when in fact he just needed time to work out a solution to whatever was bothering him.
When women are stressed they talk about their feelings in order to gain relief.
We just need to be heard and understood. A man will assume by that the fact we are talking about a problem that we require advice and will offer solutions. This can be extremely irritating especially of you are describing your hard day at work and your partner tells you to just quit or you are talking about the problems you are having with a friend and they tell you just stop ringing them! I explained this to Luke and told him that when I am upset I just need him to hug me and say “I love and respect you.” Full stop. No solutions required I just need a sounding board. It started as a bit of a joke and Luke would say “I love and respect you” to pretty much anything I complained about but it actually makes me feel really cared about and saves Luke having to try to solve all my worries!
Men are like rubber bands.
They need to pull away from their partner from time to time to recharge. So if you feel that whenever you start getting close to your partner they pull away don’t panic it’s a natural instinct and once you know about it you can work with it, give them their space and they will return.
Women should be allowed to generalise! I love this one:
“To fully express their feelings, women assume poetic license to use various superlatives, metaphors, and generalisations.”2
So it is every time you say “We never go out” “The house is always a mess” “You don’t listen to me.” You can see how taken literally a partner may retaliate with “We went out on Saturday” “ I tidied up last week” “ I’m listening right now”. If your partner knows not to take it literally it will greatly cut down on arguments.
The book includes a translation guide from Martian to Venetian which is generally hilarious but rings so true, definitely worth a read.
3 Surround yourself with people who do get it
My partner wasn’t able to give me what I needed which in that moment, seven minutes after it happened, was to join me in my anger and rage with me on how the hell this had happened. Ensure you have friends, family, a support group or a therapist to reach out and vent to. Have a support network in place with people who are able to give you different things for each stage of your emotions.
4 Learn your partner’s love language
As part of the Embrace Fertility Method we discuss relationships, with our partners, families, friends, colleagues and even strangers. While experiencing infertility it is so easy to feel isolated and to distance yourself from people when actually the opposite would be more beneficial. I thought I would to share with you one of the most valuable things I’ve learnt in my adult life that has allowed me to be happier and more fulfilled in my relationships:
We mistakenly assume that if our partners love us they will react and behave in certain ways – the ways we react and behave when we love someone.
– John Grey: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
Just pause for a moment and really let that sink in. In short if your partner does not show you that they love you in the way that you need to be shown then you may believe they do not love you. The above statement completely changed the way I viewed my relationship with my partner.
Any statement beginning with “If you love me then you would……….” is assuming that they show love in the same way that you do. So you might feel that somebody loves you when they tell you that they love you, they hug you at least once a day or they do little things to show that they care like make you a cup of tea. This would work perfectly if your partner has the same values as you but if they feel that somebody loves them by big gestures such as expensive gifts, taking care of the big things in life and generally just being there with someone without needing to tell them all the time you might come up against problems.
He/she just doesn’t understand me
The most common complaint we hear about relationships is “He/she just doesn’t understand me.” If we knew how our partner shows love and how they like to be shown that they are loved our relationships would be a lot smoother. So to achieve this very thing I have created a relationship questionnaire.
To help open up communication between you and your partner each complete the following questions/statements, without asking the other for their answers. When you are done swap and talk through your answers. (I suggest handing your partner your sheet first and discussing before looking at his/hers.)
I’ve included the below as a PDF in the files section of the Embrace Fertility online support group for easy printing. (To join our free support group sign up here.)
Embrace Relationship Questionnaire:
- List the top three ways you like to be shown that you are loved: (i.e. hugs)
- List the top three ways you think your partner likes to be shown that they are loved
- List three things that you appreciate about your partner
- List three things that you think your partner appreciates about you
- I think my partner would say that my most annoying habits are
- My partner’s most annoying habits are
- I am least happy in our relationship when
- I am most happy in our relationship when
I tested this out with my husband
I tested this out with my husband and it was a really enlightening exercise to do as a couple, the Embrace Fertility Method ladies know the relevance of the photograph that accompanies this blog! I hope you gain something from doing it and would love to hear back from you. It also opens up communication to discuss what you are unhappy about in your relationship and what you could do to change that. You might hear yourself saying: “But he/she should just know how to make me happy.”
I suggest removing the word should from your vocabulary, if you have never told your partner what you need how are they going to know? They are not a mind reader! Also wouldn’t it be better to have one conversation which changed your relationship for the better than spend a lifetime thinking “He should do this!” “She should do that!”
The Five Love Languages
In the podcast I also mention The Five Love Languages (no affiliation) and popping onto their website to do their free questionnaire as that exercise in itself as it is incredibly illuminating. I talk about when I did this with my partner on the podcast. The theory is that each of us has a preferred language which is one of the following:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Acts of services
- Receiving Gifts
- Physical touch
What to do when your partner just doesn’t get it
In this week’s episode I explore this topic in more depth, go and download now. Search for ‘Embrace Fertility’ on your favourite podcast player or listen here.
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