When you feel like you’re giving and not getting…

If you’re reading this, we’re guessing that you’re interested in having more love, intimacy and connection in a relationship that you may feel is lacking in some way.

You may have bought into the idea of just loving your partner more and “being an invitation” but are wondering when it’s your turn.

You may feel like our coaching client, Annie, that you’ve been giving and not getting for a very long time but wondering when you’ll get some love (or whatever you want) in return.

Annie came to us and explained how for years, she’s told herself to just love her husband better and it will all work out.

She said that he has responded well and seems happier but he hasn’t shown her the love, attention and consideration that she desparately wanted.

She asked us whether she should “expect” love the way she wanted it in return–or whether she had to just “suck it up” and accept the way he was.

As we talked, it became clear that she was a very loving, giving person AND she had started to wake up to the fact that she wasn’t getting her needs or desire met in her marriage.

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Although she still loved her husband and wanted to stay in the marriage, she’d started asking herself questions like, “What about me?” and “Why can’t he give to me what I give to him?”

When we gently pointed out that these questions may be taking her away from what she wanted–more connection and deeper love with him, we had her attention.

What we suggested instead of focusing on giving and not getting was shifting her internal questions to…

–“What is it that I’m not seeing about this situation?”
–“What could be going on with him that I’m not understanding?”
–“What am I expecting that he may not have agreed to?”
–“What might he be forgetting or not understanding about what I want?”

As we talked about these questions, Annie had an insight that surprised her. She realizing she had been giving to her husband and in the process had created an unspoken bargain that she get exactly what she was giving in return.

She realized that emotionally she had been expecting him to be exactly like her, even though logically she knew he was different. He had been brought up in a family where the intellect was highly valued and emotions, including love, weren’t often expressed. She grew up in a family where everyone was free to express what they were feeling and expresed love openly.

She also realized that she didn’t ask for what she wanted and had been silently hoping that he would figure it out.

She had been assuming that he was a mind reader and would just know what she wanted and needed if she gave it to him first.

With these realizations, Annie had a deeper understanding of the dynamics between the two of them and had a new direction for herself and one that she would talk with him about to find out what he wanted as well.

The truth is that when you change the questions, you change the conversation in your own mind first and with the other person second about what is truly wanted. You also change from blame to curiosity within yourself.

It’s one of the true tricks that can make all the difference in situations like this where you feel like you’re giving and not getting.

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