Is your relationship stifling you?

If you do not express yourself in a relationship or carve out your own space, you deprive it of the honest energy it needs for survival!

Are you the kind of person who gets tossed around in relationships – accommodating all, opposing nothing — your identity slowly wilting away to make space for the other? Is the real you even present in your most intimate relationship? Or, are you looking for a release, a vent to breathe and express your true self? Being too nice for fear of offending, agreeing to everything to avoid a conflict, or just plain scared of disagreeing!

Believe me, if this continues, one day you will reach breaking point. For, the real you buried deep inside will revolt – and who knows what the manner of that revolt might be? Just this morning I heard of a lady who after 30 years of a seemingly happy marriage, left her husband the day after their daughter married, saying she was leaving for a life where she had freedom of expression and choice. The husband, who believed her to be as happy as himself, was left gobsmacked!

We all know people like that – mostly women, but yes, men too. They neglect to create their own space, pursue their own lives or carve time for their own interests. Their personalities seem to blur and change shape, merging with those of their partners’. These are people who lost their sense of self because they tried to be too good. Or, shall we say, they were too weak to speak up for themselves? Why blame it on another if you do not have the gumption to express and nurture your own needs and expectations in a relationship? You only have yourself to blame.

It all begins when you start giving in to avoid confrontation. You do not proffer ideas for fear of rejection and go along with whatever is suggested. Soon that becomes a habit for you, and an expectation for the other. The relationship is deprived of an honest energy, a healthy exchange of views and opinions, and starves over time. It leads to a disconnect between you and your inner self, and also between you and your partner. You no longer give yourself the space to be yourself — the most important criteria for happiness!

In a partnership, it is critical to express your needs and expectations. You must be assertive in your relationship, stand up for what you believe in and not back off for fear of conflict. Of course not every battle is worth fighting, and one must know which ones to choose. For instance, though I wouldn’t fight over a choice of restaurant or movie, I would never back off when it is a question of values, dignity or fair play.

What if it is your partner who is the “too nice” one? Of course, it feels good to get away with what you want, but then it also gets boring and lonely! Think, why does your partner hesitate to speak his or her mind? Do you intimidate them? Where is the balance in such a relationship? Encourage your partner to participate in decision making and to speak up when not in agreement. Help them open up and be expressive – you will be doing your marriage a great service!

Every relationship requires some compromises to keep the peace. And every participant in the relationship will try to push boundaries to test their limits. If the relationship is to survive, finally the protagonists arrive at a mutually agreeable zig-zag boundary line. You win some, you lose some. No relationship can have a rigid straight line, else it isn’t a balanced partnership. We all need space to transgress sometimes to maintain a healthy balance.

As I said in an earlier column some seven years ago, “Much like the foxtrot, as one advances, the other retreats, while still hanging on lovingly to each other – and that creates the perfect rhythm that the dance of matrimony requires.”

It is as important to swing away as it is to come together again…



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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