The tiny emotional quality all the best wives have

“You’ll regret it later if you do everything for him.” Quite a few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me some wise marriage advice.

I ignored those statements at the time since I wasn’t experienced enough in relationships to understand that they were helpful hints for finding a fulfilling marriage and being a decent wife.

1. We see where our partner needs support but do not override their autonomy

For example, you offer to make your partner tea when they are tired or simply to do something nice for them.

Another time, they offer to make you tea, and you accept and don’t resist their offer by saying that you’ll do it (because you feel you can do it better/quicker perhaps or simply out of that mothering habit).

In a good marriage, there is space for kindness and space for support. Learning to step back from our desire to ‘do it all’ is a step toward healthy self-esteem.

2. Nurturing gives rise to sovereignty for either partner

I don’t think we speak enough about sovereignty in healthy relationships. Too much societal, sugar-coated love indoctrination can make us feel that we should become one.

A more balanced viewpoint is, as the Buddhists say, two flames sharing a path, with room for each to actualize their individuality.

The tiny emotional quality all the best wives have

3. We create feelings of empowerment

As partners in a marriage, we share responsibilities while sustainably offering ourselves.

Sustainability in love stems from truly knowing our boundaries and our abilities to give ongoingly without burnout.

Meanwhile, there are 3 reasons why mothering your husband or wife invalidates them.

  • It sends the signal that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves and our needs for their benefit. It not only invalidates their abilities to take care of themselves but screams about our lack of self-worth.
  • It creates further expectations of continuing the same behavior, setting up a pattern difficult to reverse. Whether we mother out of some kind of guilt or from our unhealed wounds and shadows, the result is the same — habits that lead to exhaustion, resentment, and anger.
  • Mothering our partner can lead to a loss of respect. Once resentment sets in, we begin to blame the other party for our habit which in effect trained them to expect what we now no longer wish to do. I’m not sure which comes first, the loss of respect for ourselves or our partner, but either way, it makes for a bad relationship.
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What is a more sustainable path? It considers self-love as integral to the ‘whole’ of the relationship.

No one person should sacrifice themselves for another nor should they ignore the needs of the other, without being taken advantage of.

To be taken advantage of is to allow it, and the responsibility of whether we are participating in mothering versus nurturing rests with us.

“They took advantage of my good will” is a disempowering statement often cited by serial motherers which shifts their lack of boundaries to our partner.

It’s difficult it is to break such patterns as it takes some honest self-talk to dig deep into that and come up with something that helps us move through it.

Having a conversation with our partner about what’s not working may seem daunting, even impossible.

Begin with an act of self-love. Take a bath, a walk, and make a nourishing meal for yourself. That is always a centering, grounding way to enter any conversation.

Be empowered and glass-filled, open to the possibility that there is a way forward. You may be surprised by the response you receive when you approach your beloved. But it all begins with opening up to what you need, what brings peace to your own heart.

Author Kim McMillen stated, “When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy.

This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs, and habits — anything that kept me small. My judgment called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.”

I encountered many of my excuses along the way to truly knowing what co-dependence comes from mothering a lover.

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And so often, co-dependence, dressed as love, unpacks all those cozy, healthy, fun, romantic ways we used to enjoy before we created a monster of self-sacrifice.

The good news is, that stepping back to see ourselves in a clear light, allowing for self-love, gathering our courage, and opening an honest conversation can bring a much-needed liberation. It can bring balance and equanimity to any relationship.

It all boils down to what kind of expectations we have placed on ourselves and listening to the honest feedback we receive from our bodies and emotions when something doesn’t feel right anymore. What’s left is acting upon that feedback.

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