Feeling comfortable in a relationship is something that we all treasure, but the ease that comes with knowing our partner well can lead us to take them for granted.
Signs of Not Making Our Partner a Priority
You are talking on the phone with your spouse and minutes into the call, your caller ID shows that your best friend (or mother, co-worker, etc.) is calling you.
Your immediate response is to hang up and take the incoming call.
You say to your spouse, “Hey, someone is calling. I’ve got to go.” And you hang up.
Your spouse is disappointed, and their thoughts are, “I seem to take last place in her/his life anymore. Everyone and everything are a priority over me. She/he tells me that they love me – but I am not feeling it. I might as well give up! Why do I even allow this to hurt me any longer?”
These are damaging thoughts and feelings that can erode the foundation of your relationship.
This telephone scenario describes an action of a person who appears to take their partner for granted (it wasn’t just one call), and how the hurt is felt by the recipient – and it typically goes much deeper.
A partner who does not make their relationship a priority characteristically puts themselves first:
I am an individual. My independence comes first.
I am not a sounding board, ever. My partner should bear their thoughts and hardships on their own.
My partner always wants to talk with me. I have my own life!
I do not agree with my partner’s point of view, so I’ll stick with mine.
I should not have to look after my partner. They are an adult!
I am not going to dig into my partner’s feelings and thoughts. We are individuals.
We should live our own lives. It is healthy. He/she should do their own thing, always, and so should I.
Why Taking a Partner for Granted is Harmful to a Relationship
Healthy relationships are built upon a foundation of 5 Elements – open communication, equal power, having your own lives outside of a relationship, trust and honesty, resolving conflict respectfully, and emotional intimacy.
The need to keep your own identity in a relationship is healthy, and that means carving out time for your friends, your hobbies, or even time alone.
But this does not equate to making these parts of your life more important than your spouse.
Damage to trust, honesty, emotional intimacy, and open communication in a relationship happens when a partner is taken for granted.
On the receiving end, it feels unkind, unloving, cut off, untrusting, and it leads a partner to feel unworthy, with an overbearing desire to have their feelings and emotional needs understood and appreciated (and eventually it can lead to looking elsewhere).
Making the Decision to Make My Spouse a Priority
Getting your relationship on track and making your spouse a priority may be accomplished through a few small and important changes, such as setting hours aside each week to connect and to jointly be open with your needs and feelings.
This may be obtained with a focus on addressing the needs as a whole – something that is good for both of you, not simply as individuals.
Making your spouse a priority generally requires a deeper dive, however, to create a secure relationship.
It requires a commitment to:
Make emotional intimacy a priority.
Take the time to share and understand your partner’s thoughts and feelings. Each partner shares their thoughts and feelings without fear of rejection, shame, or stress.
Create a sense of security within your relationship – protect and nurture each other’s intrinsic wholeness.
Put your relationship first beyond any competing demands from the outside. The life that each partner has outside of the relationship should not sway or detract from the bond (trust, honesty, compassion, open communication, and emotional intimacy).
Dedication to meaningful daily habits that are centered around these essential areas can transform and strengthen your relationship – making it a priority.
Are you ready to make this love work?
This LoveWorks is more than therapy – it is a process of relational transformation that takes advantage of the most relevant, accessible, understandable, and up-to-date information available.
We want to help you and your partner to develop a deeper connection, recognize and fight dysfunction, and heal your relationship.