There are many things we should absolutely demand from our partners. Respect, honesty, and fidelity. for example, are vital to any relationship.
However, many people go beyond this and overstep the boundaries of reasonable entitlement. When we believe our partner owes us something that they do not, we are shifting the balance of power in a lopsided way. We are taking from our partner the sense of autonomy and self-respect to which they are entitled.
Don’t let your relationship fall into this trap. The next time you find yourself demanding these things from your partner, check your expectations. Remind yourself that your partner’s personal needs, values, and identity are no less important than your own.
Here are four things a wise person will never demand from their significant other:
1. You should not demand that your partner change who they are.
You have no right to any person’s identity but your own. People can change – but the desire to do so must come from the inside. If your husband has no interest in dance or fine art, it is not reasonable to expect him to enjoy the ballet. He may choose to accompany you, but this should be seen as a generous and romantic gesture – not an expectation. If your girlfriend is not the outdoorsy type, don’t try to convert her to an enthusiastic camper. She may come around in her own time – or she may not. Accept your partner for the person they are. Encourage them when they feel inspired to try something new. Carry a respect for your partner’s unique sense of identity. Regard their person as an entity that is completely their own to create, develop, change, and maintain. Then, watch with admiration as they form it.
2. Your partner should not feel pressured to let go of treasured relationships.
Most likely, your partner has at least one close friend or family member you simply don’t care for. You may even consider them to be a bad influence. It is okay to share your concerns with your partner. However, you should not expect them to end the relationship based on your opinions. As an adult, your partner is responsible for building and maintaining their own support network. They likely see value in these relationships that you don’t understand. They may be wise to keep these people in their lives, or they may look back later and realize that doing so was a mistake. Either way, the decision should be theirs alone. You are not obligated to pretend you like your partner’s friends. You don’t even need to spend time with them. However, you do need to respect your partner’s decision to do so.
3. You should not ask your partner to abandon their passions.
When we don’t share in our partner’s most treasured hobby or interest, we can start to see it as a waste of time. For your partner, however, it is anything but. Even if your partner’s passion project seems silly to you, it is important to recognize that pursuing it is an important act of self-care, autonomy, and personal independence. Your partner should have more to their identity than the spaces you occupy. If you ask them to give up a valued passion project – even a silly one – you are asking them to let go of a piece of themselves. You may be surprised at how empty – and possibly resentful – they begin to feel without it.
4. Your partner is not responsible for your financial comfort.
Are they responsible for that of their children? Absolutely. You, however, are not a child. You are an equal partner. If you are concerned for your family’s financial wellbeing, it is important to discuss this with your partner. However, you must also be willing to share responsibility when it comes to fixing the problem. Look at what is possible from your end. Could you spend less? Could you bring in extra income? Could you redefine your budget in a more conservative way? Could you take a class on personal finance and offer to take charge of savings and expenses for the family? Placing the burden of financial stability on one partner is unfair. Offer to share the money burden, and it will soon start to feel much lighter.