Do Your Part No Matter What

sunset-kiss stk xchgIt is a lot easier to be a loving, responsive spouse when you feel confident your partner is doing her part. You’ll find it a relative breeze to work together, talk intimately and live life as equals when your perception is he’s doing what he ought to be doing.

But your husband doesn’t always do his part. Your wife doesn’t always talk or behave as she should. Because we all are imperfect, tired, hungry, lonely, put out or fed up, we don’t always do what we know would be the best thing (or even a good thing) to do.

So if your partner is less than she should be, what do you do? When he falls short of what you expected, how can you respond? You could retaliate, doing what you can to get even. Or perhaps play a  game of tit-for-tat, doing to her all the ugly things you perceive are being done to you. Or maybe delay and dawdle, dragging your feet until you see your spouse finally do what you think they ought. Or just go on strike, expressing your disappointment by refusing to have fun, be involved in a conversation or do anything for the other person.

You could choose any of these, but the outcome would be pretty predicable. We’d be making things worse rather than better. The tension would rise between you instead of abating. You’ll be more unhappy. And the sense of loving and being loved in your relationship falls to a lower level.

“Is there another choice?” you might ask and I would quickly move in to reassure you there is indeed. You can do your part no matter what.

Even if your partner is tacky, do your part. When he is short with you, do your part. When she refuses to talk to you, all the while telling you nothing is wrong, do your part. If he is blaming you, do your part. Even if she is accusatory, do your part.

Do your part no matter what.

This is not our typical response, so you’ll need to focus on your attitude and actions in order to change your pattern. If during a conflict you are ugly to me, my natural response is to be ugly in return. When my spouse steps on my toes, hurts my feelings or fails to respond to my pleas for help, it’s typical for me to respond by doing the same. “I’ll show you!” takes over and “Do your part no matter what,” goes on an extended holiday.

One question: How does that usually work for you?

Not well, probably. When I do the hurtful thing to you that I perceive you’ve done to me, we tend to fall into a spiraling cycle of bad behavior, fueled by malicious intentions. This leads to feelings of disappointment, damage to the marriage and a growing sense of disconnection between you and the one you love.

The remedy is simple, but not easy: Do your part no matter what.

If your husband curses and yells during conflict, respond by staying calm and detached. When your wife resorts to name-calling, resist the temptation to respond in kind.

Do your part no matter what.

It’s a choice you make. Doing your part is not always easy, but it’s always right. Set boundaries as needed. Speak up for yourself. Request change. And through it all, do what you know is the right thing to do.

Do your part no matter what.

“It will never work,” you might think. “He’ll run all over me.” “She’ll take advantage.” I’ll ask you again, all that other stuff you’ve been doing, how is it working?

Please rise above your past behavior. Give my suggestion a try.

Do your part no matter what.

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