You Don't Make Me Happy
The importance of finding our own fulfilment.
Have you ever found yourself blaming your partner for your unhappiness? Do you think it is their job to make sure you're happy?
At some point in a coaching journey, we turn the spotlight onto our closest relationship, which is a highly vulnerable topic. When I ask a client how things are at home, I usually hear a general answer like, "you know, the usual, we're fine, I guess"...
This is not the answer someone in a fulfilled relationship gives.
Over the years of coaching, it has become abundantly clear that the more trapped, frustrated and confused a client feels, the more they look to their significant other to fix it. I hear statements like "they are responsible for my happiness, and I'm not happy" or "they just don't understand me and what I'm going through".
When people are experiencing pain and quietly (or overtly) blaming their partner, things can go from bad to worse quickly. I've had clients see no other solution than separation before they've had a chance to be curious about what's going on.
People can experience overwhelm if they feel "the spark has gone", feel they're not connected, and feel short-tempered and trapped in a situation, especially when our partner is the person we're supposed to go to when we're feeling low. For any of you parents out there, throw kids in the mix, and you've got yourself a real melting pot of fun.
So what can we do (before we consider separation 😜)?
I'm going to share with you the process I go through with clients in similar situations:
1. Change the internal dialogue from "you are responsible for my happiness" to "I am responsible for my happiness". Suppose each partner in a relationship is responsible for their fulfilment. In that case, you have two happy people in a relationship that want to be together and that happiness will amplify.
Being responsible for your happiness means looking at the things you need in your life to feel fulfilled and taking action to get them.
2. Communication. I then get my clients to be vulnerable and tell their partners about what they need in their own lives. They also need to be curious about what their partner feels is missing to move into the next part of the process.
3. Teamwork. Now that both sides understand what each other needs, they work as a team to make time in the relationship for those things.
Let me give you an example. A client comes to me feeling frustrated about his wife "not making him happy". We look at what he needs to feel happier, and he wants to go to the gym regularly with his buddies. This will give him some separation from the kids, give him some well needed "time with the lads," and boost his self-esteem because he's keeping fit.
He talks to his wife about it, and he's curious about what she needs more of in her life. It turns out she wants something similar; a regular schedule every week where she can go for a run with her girlfriends would make her feel amazing.
As a team, they work together and make a plan to honour their needs so they can both move towards fulfilment.
Clients find that working on this approach makes them feel more content, resilient and present in a relationship. When their partner is also taking action towards their fulfilment, the relationship amplifies the feeling of contentment. When we're feeling fulfilled and present, that's where the real fun begins in a relationship as we have more space for play, goofiness and intimacy.
There's no hiding that this takes work, communication, vulnerability and teamwork, but it needs to happen if you're going to flourish. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing clients step up to perceived "relationship troubles" and come out the other side in a better relationship than they ever had.
If what I've shared with you has landed and you feel in a similar situation, click this link. I want to help you turn that around!
Here's to your journey.