How Being Too Nice Ruins Your Marriage

Discover the importance of self-compassion and asking for what you need in a relationship. Overcoming resentment can strengthen the bond with your spouse

Self-compassion is a complicated topic for most people.  Being kind to others is easy but being nurturing to yourself is something else entirely.  Putting this in perspective, most people don’t visit the doctor when they need to.  Those that do and get a medical prescription out of the visit is an equally depressing statistic.  Only half of those people fill their prescription.  Only 1/3 of those folks who get that far don’t even take their medication properly.  And how nice are we to our pets? 98% get what they need entirely, no questions asked.

Asking for what we need from our spouse is no different.   It’s much easier to give than receive.  Where do you want to eat tonight?  How do you want to deal with that problem?  Where would you like to go for vacation?  Before you know it, you not only begin to feel ignored but also resentful that you’ve given so much and received so little.  Partly, it’s easier because you genuinely care about your spouse.  You love them and want to give.  Partly, it’s easier because you don’t need to have all the answers.  In some sense, being kind simultaneously unburdens you from having to make any decisions.  Partly, it side steps the nasty business of knowing what you want to begin with.  Everyone hopes their spouse knows what they want but practically that’s a rarity.

Over time all of the pain of feeling ignored builds up and becomes fuel to your fights.  Paradoxically, the attempt to be compassionate is the source of the fights themselves.  The antidote is straight forward.  Take time to think about what you do want from your spouse.  Begin asking.  Chances are, revealing yourself this way will be a relief to your spouse.  In my own practice, when one spouse starts revealing their needs the other sighs with relief.  “All this time I’ve been trying to figure out what you want.  I suppose, all this time, I thought we had been on the same page.”

Yonasan Bender, SW graduated from Hebrew University’s School of Social Work. He has his psychotherapy practice at The Place: The Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. To share your thoughts, experiences, questions, or a different perspective, you can reach Yonasan Bender at 053-808-0435 or email him by clicking HERE. To learn more about him and his work, click HERE.

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