If you listened to the 3 MUST-HAVES episode, you know how important equality is for a healthy relationship. When you assume the role of parent to your partner, where's the equality? Here's why it will kill your relationship and what to do to stop that!
So exasperating! Your partner seems like an extra child. Not what you signed up for, right!
And, no amount of pointing out his/her failures, incompetencies, or lack of thought seems to change things, either.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS EPISODE:
- How you damage your relationship when you act like your partner's parent
- Why you feel resentment when you feel you have to parent your partner
- What 'parenting' your partner may look/sound
- Why behaving like a parent to your partner builds resentment
- Why you don't want to sleep with someone who treats you like a child
- How to see the contrasts and change
- How to change and improve your relationship ...and, get the spark back, too.
OK...I understand, but it's definitely not going to help if you are viewing your partner as an extra child. That alone needs your immediate attention!
If you actually treat your partner as an extra child--giving direction, finding fault, ridiculing, shaming, and blaming--your relationship will always be lacking in those three MUST-HAVES: equality, reciprocity, and mutuality. It will always be frustrating, infuriating, and unsatisfying.
And, the bedroom? Going to consistently be contentious. No desire because there's not respect. It's all going to go sideways, and I give you some pointed examples of why in this episode.
So, if you're unhappy in your relationship, it could be that this episode can change all that as you understand the impossible dynamics of parenting your partner as a primary process. Sure, we are occasionally that parental figure that makes the bad go away for each other, that soothes the bruises and bumps. That's great.
It's when the primary attitude of an attempt to be a partner is "It feels like I have an extra child" is in place, then everything else slowly disintegrates.
Listen and I'm sure it will makes sense to you. Good news: this can change!
Today, we're going to talk about how parenting your partner can ruin your relationship and ruin your desire for intimacy.
We're going to go into it in some depth because it's very important. You may have said, I didn't sign on to have an extra child. That is not what I expected to have in my relationship. And that's how I feel. I feel like I've got one. And you probably don't want to be ruining your relationship, that is not what you want to be doing.
And their behavior just takes the heart out of everything. It really does. And we have to look at what kinds of things are going on. Because you are creating some dynamics, you're participating in the dynamics, and what are those dynamics that you're creating? How are you going about it? You know, maybe it's not cop on you slowly. Maybe, in the beginning, it seemed like it had collaboration and compromise. And there was emotional maturity. But now you're feeling like where did all that go?
Maybe you're criticizing, maybe you're complaining? Maybe you are always showing somebody how to do something, telling them how to do something telling them, Why don't they already know that. And really what it boils down to is you come to a place where there is a lack of acceptance, a lack of respect, and it keeps being eroded. Every time if you find yourself going, Oh, really? Do I have to do that? Really? Do I have to do that for you? You find that the respect and the acceptance of your partner is totally eroded. And that is not going to be helpful at all for having a satisfying relationship.
And you will get to the place where maybe you're making demeaning comments to one another. I don't know which one of you might be the one who's being a parent, but the one who is parenting will begin to diminish their partner. And I mean parenting their partner, not parenting their children, they will begin to diminish them, and control them and correct their behavior.
And, you know, maybe constantly be on them like you shouldn't eat that you should exercise more, you should do this, you shouldn't approach your job like that. There's no equality in that is there. Now if you listen to my podcast a couple of weeks ago on the three must-haves to have a healthy adult relationship, you know that you must have equality, reciprocity and mutuality will You sure can't have those things, if you are parenting your partner.
Now, of course, we're going to have those wonderful moments when we're actually there for a partner. And it feels a bit like parenting because it is that protection. That is that is okay. When you get a bruised knee or the bruises of life, that person is there to say; It's okay, we'll manage. I'm here. I'm not talking about that kind of parenting. I'm talking about the kind of parenting that says, Oh, you've got so much to learn. You don't do things the right way. I have so much to teach you I have to always be telling you. And that can make it so that you don't feel like you have a partner at all.
And you could be causing resentment. What kind of resentments are you causing, you know, maybe you are just taking over for them. I remember a couple that came to see me, and I have clients all over the world, but I really remember this one, particularly, the woman was a medical doctor, and the husband was an entrepreneur, and they just had a baby. And when they came to see me, the husband kept saying; she's totally incompetent.
I can't ask her to do anything. I don't even think she takes care of the baby in the proper way. I've got to be there all that time. Well, obviously, you're dealing with a medical doctor who takes care of people all the time, she probably knows very well how to take care of a baby. And as we uncovered all of those pieces, he got to see that he was frustrated, he was resentful. He was resigned to having to do it forever, and he hated it. And yet it was all in his head. It was all in the way that he approached his partner. She was perfectly capable. Of course, she ran a business; she ran a medical practice. She had all kinds of wonderful attributes, but he was just Not in the equality, reciprocity, and mutuality mode. And we had to work that through. And we did, we did.
So it's important for us to realize that, you know, if you find that you get into a parenting role, and maybe you felt you needed to, but maybe you've overstepped, maybe you've been overly willing to do things and not allow the other person to show up as themselves. And that happens. But there's a big difference between treating them and you know, caring for another human being, and treating them as though they are a child.
So you have to find that fine line, maybe occasionally make an appointment for your partner. But if you always have to make the appointments because they never do it, and they expect you to do it. And it's not because you made an agreement that you will do it, but it's left to you, too. Or maybe you find yourself choosing their clothes or telling them what to wear.
Nobody wants a partner to tell them what to wear. They want to hear when they look good. But you could take on a parenting role and start telling them what to wear and what to do. And maybe you go the other way; maybe you're catering to their every need, you're jumping around trying to be everything to them. You're not going to respect them in that case at all.
Maybe you're smothering and overprotective, or you pick up after them so much. It's not going to work well for you. It just isn't. You know, it's important to recognize that our earliest relationships, especially with our mothers, influences our ability to connect with other adults for our whole life. That relationship that we had with our mothers mostly affects the relationships we have for the rest of our life.
And so we want to talk for a minute about attachment because that's where it begins to really show up. And I've talked to you in other shows about it. I've had to interview shows about attachment theory.
What does this really mean? Well, when we're securely attached, that's the phrase that we want is the most positive when we're securely attached. Maybe we had loving, consistent mothers, and we grew up to see ourselves positively, and we're comfortable with other people, and we're not afraid of being alone or rejected or abandoned. We're not waiting for the other shoe to drop, we feel quite comfortable.
But if we weren't securely attached, then we're going to have difficulties with relationships, and maybe we're insecurely attached, and when you're insecurely attached, then your mother probably, and maybe your father too, but your mother primarily was inconsistent in her attention to you. Maybe she was neglectful. Maybe, on the other hand, she was hostile when she did pay attention to you. And you went between those two extremes; neglectful and hostile, and you just didn't know how to handle things. So you became avoidant.
And, if that's your experience in relationship, you bring that in with you. And this is really important to recognize because the research of Glen Garr shows that we choose our partners similar to our opposite-sex parents. We choose our partner, similar to our opposite-sex parent. So, if you think about that for a little bit, is that true? Did you like your opposite-sex parent? Did you feel comfortable with your opposite-sex parent? Did you feel consistently loved by them, validated, and approved of?
And if that was the case, it will create an intimacy problem, because we were insecurely attached, we may have been avoidantly attached, we may have been fearfully attached, meaning that we got a negative self-image and maybe we grew up around a passive-aggressive parent. So the signals were all mixed up.
So, this relationship that we had, particularly with our mothers, has a lot to say about how we're going to have a relationship with another adult when we get into a significant romantic relationship.
And so this comes to bear on our ability to find somebody who is going to be our equal, who can be in a reciprocal and mutual relationship. And maybe there's another kind, and there is another kind of insecure attachment, and that's the dismissive avoidance. Now, I'm not going deeper into the Attachment Theory because, as I said, there are many episodes and interviews that I've done on both on the Save Your Sanity podcast and on the Emotional Savvy Podcast both of which are available to you.
So, when you go to relationshiphelpnetwork.com, you can see both of my podcasts even though I don't add any more episodes to Emotional Savvy as I now pay all my attention to Save Your Sanity. They're still there for you. So, feel free to go over there.
Because if you were with a dismissive-avoidant attached person or you are one, then you currently have a fear. You may even rise up and be superior and say, "I don't need a close relationship. I don't want to close relationships. I like having people depend on me. But I don't want to depend on anybody else."
And you really pride yourself in your sufficiency. If you get into a relationship, you're not going to get into an equal reciprocal mutual relationship, because you're already in a situation where you have determined that's not okay for you. That's not what you want. So there could happen it could happen to your partner to maybe your partner had that.
And if you had a critical, demanding mother, that's gonna make a big difference. And one of the things that for sure is going to happen is that intimacy will become a problem or partner-parent problem, all of these things. And, of course, it's going to be because if you feel you have to parent, psychologically, you're going to feel like well, you don't have sex with your children, do you?
You don't cuddle in bed with your children in a sexual way. You don't invite sexual intimacy with a child. So, if at all you feel like you've been parenting somebody, then you're not going to feel like you want to be sexually intimate with them. And you don't particularly feel emotionally intimate with them either. And that's a big problem because you want to feel emotionally intimate with your partner.
You need that emotional intimacy to want to create further intimacy of all kinds. And if that hasn't been the case for you, if there's just not the way it's been going, then you were in that situation where you resent the person. That's not going to tie you to want to have them as your close intimate partner either. Or if you've had a partner who's a parent, and you happen to be male, you may feel emasculated. They have taken away your autonomy, or you feel that they have, or maybe you've given it away. But you may feel emasculated. You don't want to have an intimate relationship; you're not going to risk that with somebody. And if you're feeling like their mother, you don't feel like you could be attracted and safe with somebody that you have to parent and tell what to do most of the day. And even if that's not true, even if you made that all up.
And you may not have thought of it all the way down to the bottom of the issue. But the actual issue is that naturally, you don't want to be intimate with your children in that way. That's a healthy thing to do is to not want to be sexually intimate with your children. So if you have that going on where you're parenting your partner all day, you feel like you have to pick up after them and tell them what to do and do everything for them, and you criticize them, and you complain and, and you are not their equal, you don't feel like they're equal. You don't make them feel anywhere near equal to you, you're not going to have an intimacy problem, and that is going to happen. And when that happens, then resentment and resignation sets in. That may happen slowly. It may happen quickly. As soon as someone begins to feel like I can't do anything, right, somebody is always telling me what's wrong with me. My partner's always telling me how I should be is not acceptable. We've got an inferior-superior relationship going on; it's unequal. And when that happens over time, we have a big problem and if you find yourself nagging all the time, and that's not a sexy trait that's not attractive. And if you're irresponsible all the time, your partner is not going to find that attractive. If you're unaccountable for your behavior and your partner is exasperated with you, they're not going to find that attractive either.
So these things where you need to be parented because you're not pulling your weight, you know, pulling up your socks and adulting properly that is going to cause your partner to feel like what happened. There's no equality, reciprocity, and mutuality here, that's not going to work well. And when communication shifts from the ability to have those three things, the equality reciprocity mutuality. It shifts into a kind of business dynamic, where you're just taking care of business doing what has to be done, demand, agree, monitor, reward, degrade. It's just become a Business arrangement.
You know what I'm talking about. You just feel like we're doing business here. It's not making you feel good. It's not making you feel seen heard, acknowledged, appreciated, and accepted because someone is always finding fault with you. Or that you have to take care of everybody else and nobody takes care of you. So you become the parent to everybody, including your partner, that may or may not be true. Those may be traits that you have just adopted, adapted, or inherited from a dysfunctional family that you grew up in. Or maybe you actually thought the other person was a mature adult, and they behave like that for a while, and then they fell off the wagon.
And now you're terribly disappointed, and you're trying to everything to try and get equilibrium back. And you don't realize that you've taken on the parenting role. And that may happen, you may not realize that, but one thing I'll tell you for sure if you habitually become a parent to your partner your relationship with is going to be ruined. And at a minimum, you are going to be living together and resentment and resignation. And that is not going to be a happy place to be.
So here's a few questions that you could ask yourself to figure this out. Am I actually partnering with my parent? There it goes again. I've actually parenting my partner too much. So here are some questions. Do you nag? You know, if you really think about it, do you nag, giving deadlines, get exasperated, telling people that they never show up in any, any positive way?
Do you find that your arguments resolve nothing? They're just arguments. They're just ways to put the other person down or to catch them doing something wrong. That will put you in a parenting role. Do you find yourself cleaning up after your partner because it's just easier that way? Yeah, that's one that's hard to negotiate. There is no right answer to that. But it's a question you could ask yourself like, "Am I constantly picking up after them?"
Get yourself a clean zone in which you live and try and see if you can get them to carry their weight without nagging. Just by modeling? Do you feel like you're the king or queen of the house that you just are in charge of everything, and it's not by your choice? Or maybe you're the kind of person who likes it and then complains about it, but that's a whole other negative issue. But are you the person who has to be in charge by default, or nothing will get done? Is that your impression of your relationship? Well, if you live from that, it may or may not be true, but if you live from there, you are going to live in resentment, and that's not going to do, and if you're constantly making excuses for your partner, rather than setting boundaries and having agreements and improving your communication and conflict management, you may get into a parenting role as well. And then the other thing where you actually baby your partner. Now, that's a big long conversation.
But if you're doing that, you're not going to be happy. It may be cute. In the beginning, you may feel that it's cute, but it wears out really soon. You may have had that happen; it already is more worn off. You don't want to do it anymore. So how do you overcome parenting mode with your partner? So I'm going to give you a few things. So first of all, you need to be mindful that you're doing it.
And maybe you're just waking up to the fact that what really is bothering you in your relationship is your part Is parenting you. So, either way, be mindful if you are the one parenting your partner. And if you've just had the penny drop and say, that's what's really bothering me, my partner is always parenting me or trying to I don't like it, we need to talk about it. Okay, another thing to do to overcome this parenting is don't criticize how your partner does things.
Don't be critical. You could offer help. You could say, "when I do it, I do it this way." But don't be critical of whatever they are doing. And I know maybe you know more about it. But you there are great ways of communicating you can say, "you know, I've done that several times. And I have a few ideas. Would you like to hear them, and they might say no, I want to do it on my own and let them you know, it is not up to you to make everything right in that regard? Things don't always have to be done right. And we all make mistakes. When partners make mistakes, they experience the consequences and learn from it and make the needed corrections. Now, yeah, I know, sometimes they're not going fix their mistakes. The truth is I can't give you statements that are universally true.
But I'll tell you; they'll be less difficult to fix your relationship if you start trying to fix your partner. And many times, when you're parenting your partner, you're trying to fix them and tell them how to do it. Now here's a big one. If you want to overcome this parenting mode, you have to listen to how you speak to your partner. If you have a parental tone or an exasperated tone, you should tone it down and make it less condescending. You've already got a problem, or you're creating one if you can hear yourself speaking in that tone.
Another question you can ask yourself is, am I really honest with myself? Do I have a need to control these situations? Am I afraid of things getting out of control, and therefore I take control because that means that maybe you've got some personal work to do? You've got some things to discover and uncover, that would allow you to be able to do things differently and to feel differently about them.
And the last thing is, you might need to get help. Because this may have become a pattern, it may have become a cycle. It may have become a lifestyle, and it's unhealthy. And as you recognize this whole thing about the dynamic of parenting your partner and how that feels for both sides, neither persons have PE; neither person is happy when they're being parented or having to parent or think they have to parent. Neither person is happy. And it's not creating a relationship that has the potentials to take you into the future. It's not going to get better; you need to take action. So, you know, you've heard me say before, I do have a one time, one-hour introductory offer for only $97 go to BeAClient.com.
Let's talk about the issue and find out whether or not I can help you. You certainly will learn a few things during that introductory hour. And then we can work together to solve other problems for you. These are really important things; it's not about blame. It's not about right or wrong or good or bad. You just don't feel good when you have to parent; you don't feel good when you're being parented.
And you might not even notice that you've taken on a parenting role and you resent it. Please remember that there's something you can do to remedy your relationship. There's something I could talk about with my partner. If I've been parenting, I could acknowledge that. Do you know what I bet sometimes I sound like your parent? And I know that's not what you want from me. You want support; you want acceptance, you want respect. And when I do that, I realize that's not true.
And if you're in the other position, and you're being parented, and you know very well you don't need to be and don't want to be, you might want to speak up in the reverse of those things. So very important for you. I'm always here for you. I want to help you. I am open to talking with you. You can go to save your sanity podcast calm, and you can listen to over 115 episodes there. You'll also find emotional savvy. There are over 100 episodes there of interviews with other experts, good things for you. And it's important to record Notice that your major relationship in life is the biggest and most important thing.
And if you have children together, it becomes even more important. And I'm here to help you. So I hope we get the opportunity to talk or you will listen again soon. And invite your friends to also listen. Find me at for relationship help calm or on YouTube. That's also the name of my channel for relationship help.
So, until we speak again, I want you to remember as I always do at the close of every episode that you are important and you matter. You're precious, and I hope you will take super good care of yourself. You will demonstrate to yourself that you matter because you do. Talk soon.