Who Are You Without Your Partner?
We’ve all heard the cliche-sounding statements about needing to make yourself happy before you can ever possibly think of making someone else happy, right?
But how true to form is that idea in the real world and in the realm of actual relationships?
I can tell you that many people really don’t know how to make themselves ‘happy’ or even have a clue as to what that means as far as it relates to relationships.
For me, being happy means that I’m personally fulfilled in my own life — separate from my partner. If he were to disappear tomorrow, I would still have my own hobbies, passions, and interests. I would essentially still be me.
I think that a lot of couples fall into the trap of thinking that they need one another to complete a whole picture when, in fact, each partner is already a complete work of art in their own right.
However, not every individual has realized their full potential when they enter into any given relationship, and, quite often, they end up placing a great deal of their personal self-worth and sense of happiness onto the partner they’re with.
When a person expects their partner to be the one to constantly make them happy, entertain them, or keep them functional in any way, this can be a huge strain on the relationship.
This is why I never expect that from my own partner.
I learned long ago that no one else was responsible for my happiness. I also learned that I simply cannot make another human being happy if they aren’t fulfilled within their own life and headspace.
Of course, it’s totally natural for partners to want to make one another happy. There’s no crime in striving to please your partner in the moment or within certain situations.
However, you’ve got to allow your partner to navigate their own journey. They need to explore things on their own. They need to fail on their own. They need to learn lessons on their own. Both partners need to do this.
When I’m feeling unfulfilled or unsatisfied in my life or relationship, I don’t expect my partner to fix it for me. Sometimes I can’t even fix it myself. That’s just life.
When things go wrong in life, it’s not necessarily a reflection of your relationship. It’s simply part of living in the world and encountering daily challenges.
I think this is where a lot of couples get confused. They project their life problems onto their relationship with their partner and assume that it must be the relationship that’s making them unhappy — when it might be other external influences causing them angst.
When you fundamentally love and care for a partner, it’s important to keep perspective on what’s driving both of you through life. What makes each of you happy? What gives you energy? What excites you? These are questions each individual must answer on their own. Coming together as partners with individual goals and passions is what makes great relationships great.
Enjoying happiness with a partner and being the source of happiness for a partner are two different things.
I can’t expect my partner to create my happiness just as I can’t create his. That’s a prime recipe for disappointment. I don’t expect my partner to complete my picture and he doesn’t expect me to complete his. We both have our own tools to create what we need in order to eventually feel fulfilled as human beings.
Will we support one another along the way while we both discover our own individual masterpieces?
However, I am ultimately responsible for my own happiness and well-being within a relationship — just as my partner is responsible for theirs.
More from Michelle: Marriage Can Still Be Sacred Even When You’re Divorced