Feeling taken for granted is an underlying relationship problem that can pop up regularly.
It wears many disguises in a relationship.
When your partner finds ways to justify behavior that leaves you feeling unheard, unseen, and unsupported, it’s likely that you will start feeling taken for granted. S/he just expects that you will somehow understand that their needs and wants justifiably are more important, and may even come first in their mind. Their first allegiance is to themselves. (Maybe they are relentlessly difficult people!)
NOT SO, IN A HEALTHY COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP!
When you become a couple, a new entity is born. There are three present now: you, your partner, AND, the relationship. That’s two “Me’s” and a “We” to consider. Being taken for granted means that the “we” has been forgotten, in favor of a “me.” And, “we’s” need thought, attention, consideration, care, and feeding!
The trick is that you have to talk about, and come to agreement about, what the “we” needs to live, strengthen, and continue. That’s one conversation that people who seem to be making commitments to each other fail to have. Of course, they are afraid to have it often because there is great potential for both conflict and vulnerability.
When the chemicals of the first flurry of dating are wearing off, and real life together looms, you have to have the difficult conversations. If you run from them, you will end up with relationship problems. Those problems will either demand your attention, or command you to run from the relationship. That’s a tricky spot–and a very uncomfortable one!
I was talking with a client about his relationship, and how he felt unseen and–you’ve got it!–taken for granted. He went out of his way to do something that helped them both. Instead of getting a “Thanks so much for cleaning up the bedroom,” he got “What makes you think you have the right to touch my books?” And, this is a pattern in his relationship. It happens all the time.
That relationship is off-kilter, unbalanced, and in need of corrective communication. There are fundamental values that are not shared, and no agreements have been made because the difficult conversations have not been held.
Time for the #ToughTalk. It doesn’t mean it’s over, it means “let’s solve this issue”.
I know, difficult topics are possible minefields. You’re having a lovely evening and you don’t want to spoil it by bringing up a relationship problem. So, you gloss over it, enjoying the nice evening.
And, you know what? Tomorrow morning, the problem is still right there irking you no end. In fact, because these difficult subjects are not spoken of, your partner can believe that things are all right with you. By not speaking, they can believe that there is no problem. What could be farther from the truth? Yet, there is no evidence in reality that shows that’s not the case.
- Choose a time to talk where there will be no distractions.
- Start with a small, small item that bothers you, or bothers you both.
- Make an agreement to discuss only ONE thing at this time.
- If another item comes up, write it down and tackle it at another time.
- Give each of you time to say what you have to say about that ONE item. (P.S. Best way to do this is for you both to practice the Personal Weather Report formula in my book, Kaizen For Couples.)
- Do your best to come to an understanding of how this ONE item looks, feels, lands, and connects to each of you.
- Then, talk about how the ONE item could be better managed so that the relationship becomes important: the “We” not just the “Me.”
- Do your best to demonstrate that you heard each other, and want to honor and respect your agreement.
- Come back together in a week and talk about your progress on the ONE item.
Sometimes, it’s helpful–and often, necessary–to get some help to have healthy conversations about difficult things. Book a 1-hour introductory session with me, and I’ll help you. We’ll figure it out in a safe way that moves your relationship positively forward.
When you start feeling taken for granted, you are responsible for speaking up in a relationship.
That’s speaking up, not whining, complaining, nagging, sniping, or kvetching, and thinking that will help.
Relationship problems are shared because of the “We.” They are solved by the “We.” And, there’s no better time than right now to follow those steps!