Whether you are a man or a woman doesn’t matter, but it certainly matters if you are a doormat!
A doormat is a person who doesn’t take a stand in life for his or her values, vision, purpose, beliefs, desires or worth. They are more interested in keeping the peace, or living up to the expectations of others.
Don’t be that person!
Recently I was working with a woman who told me that, in more than twenty years, her husband has consistently failed to keep their agreements regarding family issues. He’s good about lots of other things, but not that. When I asked her why this has been going on so long, she shrugged and spoke of her disappointment and sadness that he just would not step up there.
My question: “Do you feel your husband respects, loves and trusts you?”
Her answer: “In some ways, but not when it comes to family issues.”
My question: “Does your husband clearly know what you want and why it is important to you?”
Her answer; “Yes, I think so. He knows I’m upset.”
My question: “I asked if he CLEARLY knows”
Her answer: “Well, he generally knows.”
My question: “Have you spelled it out in so many words which behaviors bother you, why they bother you and EXACTLY what you would like to change, AND what will happen if it does not change?”
Her answer: “I think so.
My answer: “One of two things–or both–is true in your relationship: 1) he believes that what he wants and why he does it is more important than your desires and feelings, and/or 2) when you tell him what will happen, it never happens.”
My question: “What happens when you talk with him about your disappointment and sadness?”
Her answer: “He tells me that I have nothing to complain about because my bills are paid and I am well taken care of.”
OOPS! As we continue our conversation, it became clear that their relationship is a barter system, a tit-for-tat arrangement where a scorecard is kept. Unfortunately, that puts my client in a huge pool of other folks, and they are all in the deep end!
Healthy relationships are NOT barter systems.
Healthy relationships are ones that demonstrate mutual respect, love, attention and trust. The partners care enough to learn how to communicate well, how to create true intimacy, and how to manage anger and conflict effectively. Barter relationships happen in marketplaces, not homes. Sure, occasionally we’ll trade off chores at home, or take turns selecting the movie to watch. That’s not a foundational barter system.
What you have to be on guard for is the score keeping!
That’s the tell-tale sign. You know, the sign that comes on in neon lights when you have a disagreement, argument or fight. You may be disagreeing over the credit card bill. Instead of keeping the conversation to the credit card bill, the conversation escalates to the “You always….” and “You never….” and “The last three times….” You get the drift…and the further you drift away from talking about that credit card bill, the further back you will have to come to EVER talk about that credit card bill!
Now, doormats cower at the idea of score keeping. They are almost afraid of it. Perfectionism and low self-esteem play a part in this. They are afraid to be in the wrong, and also afraid of being made wrong when they are in the right. Big neon lights again! This relationship is unhealthy.
Everyone deserves to be listened to, not just heard.
Doormats listen, but they don’t speak up. Some don’t think they deserve to take up space or take breath. Some are just tired of fighting. In either case, relationship help is what you need…and, right away! If you need communication, anger management or conflict management skills, get them…now!
I’m always delighted when people take my classes, here at the Optimize Center in Escondido, CA, and online through Skype video, and they say that they didn’t know that they could really change the way they behave in their primary relationship. What delights them most is that their relationships change. Of course, they go through some rough spots because people who count on you to be a doormat are more than a little surprised, and often somewhat resentful when you step up and speak up for yourself. We have classes to support you as well as private sessions for you and your partner to help you through those rough spots.
Doormats arise! You’ll like the view much better.
P.S. If you have a relationship help question, you can ask me directly and I’ll answer by email. CLICK HERE.