The Sex & Conversation Series, Part 3: “If My Spouse Loved Me, They Would WANT To Do What Warms My Heart!”
This is an article about marriage, but I’m going to illustrate it with a parenting example.
Don’t you wish that when you ask your kids to do something extra for you (clear the table, pack up their little sister’s bookbag, go grab something out of the storage room), that they would always want to help and have sheer delight in doing so? “Yay! I get to help Mom or Dad by bringing up the extra bag of kitty litter from the storage room!” “Oh good, I’ve been wanting to fold the laundry instead of shooting hoops outside!”
Of course, it usually doesn’t work that way! So what we mostly work toward, explain the need for – and eventually applaud!– is when our son will heave himself off of his “gaming spot” on the couch, or our daughter will step away from her Lego tower, and willingly do something that we’ve asked without grumbling. We’d still love delight, but we will take willingness. We will take the fact that they have built a habit of helping because they (hopefully) love and respect us, know that these actions are part of being in a family, and that building this habit is important to us.
And that habit actually matters a lot, right? Their willingness to leave what they want to do, and instead tackle what you want them to do, says, “I care.”
In fact, what would we think if we saw a parent who said, “It doesn’t count if when my son mowed the lawn, he wasn’t also eager to interrupt his gaming session to help me”? What would we think if we saw a parent who said, “If my daughter really loved me, she would want to leave her Lego project to go walk the dog?” We would probably be very concerned. Because that parent has some potentially damaging expectations.
So if we would never have that expectation of our kids, why do we have it of our spouse?
Would it surprise you to know that there are multiple ways most of us have damaging, subconscious, “it doesn’t count if . . .” or “if they loved me, they would . . .” expectations of our spouse? Let me share just two.