A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my new “multi-generational” tennis class and the fantastic people I’ve met there. Well, one of those just happens to be my age (which is kind of a shocker), and, recently, she’s been dealing with ending her marriage.
I wish I could say it was her decision to end the marriage and that she felt really good about it. But, that’s not the case. It’s been ugly, difficult, and confusing – and, she’s been through an awful lot of introspection and therapy as she tries to figure out what went wrong.
Despite the motivation, that introspection has been a good thing – she’s gained an enormous amount of insight into her relationships. And, this morning, she =let me in on a key insight she gained recently.
Basically, she realized that she’s been taking the “leftovers” from loved ones her whole life. She says, even as a child, her super-dynamic father needed centerstage. Which meant those around him were pushed backstage, fighting for the leftover attention, love, and energy. His needs came first – the rest of the family scrambled for what was left after he finished. And, frankly, until now, she thought that was normal.
Fast-forward to her marriage, and you can guess what happened: She married someone whose needs also came first. Just like in childhood, she scrambled for the leftovers, which left most of her needs unmet.
As for conflict, you can imagine the blow-ups that ensue when those leftover needs start to pile up! After all, one can subsist on leftover love only so long.
So, here’s my question – and my challenge. Ask yourself: Do you settle for leftovers? Or do you demand equal consideration of your needs? Are you the one whose needs always come first?
It’s always a good idea to check-in with this dynamic and see how it impacts your relationships. Although most relationships aren’t exactly 50/50 in the “needs” department, 80/20 is too unbalanced for most couples. And, about those leftovers, if you’re always forced to “eat” them, time to ask yourself if your family of origin might be to blame.