The Silent Partner

Over the last few years I’ve experienced some things that have made me truly analyze myself and rethink my priorities and approach to life, my wife and kids. It has, in turn, created major changes in my heart, mind and soul. I have also watched a few other people change and adapt to certain life altering episodes, which has helped adjust my perspective and has instilled a sense of hope for the direction of my own life. If I can watch people change (for what I see as “the better”) then I know, or at least think, that there may be hope for me too. Perhaps I can make the adjustments that I need so I can become a better example for my family and others and be a genuine husband, lover, father and friend.

A couple of things I think I’m actually pretty good at are listening and thinking, sometimes too good and a little too much though. In fact, in a strange way that seems so obvious to me now, this was at the root of my primary errors in my relationship because it actually fed and enabled negative behavior and resentment in both of us. Arguments, I am learning, apparently may actually be a good thing and shouldn’t be avoided. We shouldn’t be doing all we can to evade them but actually be trying to learn how to accept their inevitability as part of having a relationship and learn how to actually have one with the person who is the love of our life and trust that everything will be fine in the end. I realize that this may sound strange, but hey, I’m strange and these are just my thoughts and opinions and I’m learning as I go… I also understand that there are probably millions of people out there who argue well and have no problems and get what they need out it and just see it as part of life. I never learned how to argue, this was not part of my life growing up. I didn’t know what actually went into a relationship. I became the silent partner… I think I’m finally learning and am solely basing things on my experiences.

The Silent Partner is often a “people pleaser” who has a fear of confrontation and a fear of failure. They tend to rarely argue, plead their case or defend themselves. They usually keep quiet while they keep their opinion to themselves and just take whatever is given to them. This individual tends to always try to see the other person’s perspective first before allowing themselves to react. People pleasers usually try to avoid arguments. They may claim to not understand the need or the value of arguments, perhaps because they don’t know how to argue and are afraid of the unknown outcomes; they are inexperienced and have no control. If this sounds like you then the reality may be that you are coming off as aloof and uncaring. Your partner may view you as disconnected and feel like you don’t want to take a role in the relationship. It might seem like you don’t have any emotions and you simply just don’t care. You’re shutting down and burying it all deep inside. Even though you are convincing yourself and telling your partner you love them and are doing it for them because you are just trying to make them happy, the reality is that they are not receiving a key element that helps with the evolution the relationship. They probably grew up learning the importance of debate. They actually had experience in arguing and venting and realize that it’s just an exercise of clearing out the junk in the attic. They know that arguments do not mean the end of the relationship. It’s just how most people deal with things and it’s a normal part of a relationship. They will slowly give up on you as being an active partner in your love which will lead to you both cultivating depression and resentment on your road to loneliness.

If you are sacrificing and suppressing your thoughts, emotions and dreams while convincing yourself it’s the right thing to do because you love your partner and think this will keep the waters still; you’re wrong. The current below the surface steadily grows turbulent and fierce lurking silently like undertow waiting for you to step in so it can drag you out to the cold and lonely open sea where you drown hopeless and alone. The misunderstanding, silence, burying of emotions and lack of communication and intimacy that comes with all this brews a bubbling cauldron of resentment, hurt and loneliness. By the time you realize that this is the beast beneath the glassy surface, you have grown apart, lost any understanding and communication skills and have created defenses, assumptions and pre-scripted arguments potentially preventing any hope of working through even the smallest of issues. The relationship is tail spinning out of control and the love that once seemed so natural, so deserved and so real is being snuffed out like a candle in the night. Suddenly this will be reality and your biggest fears will be coming true and you just won’t understand how you could have been so misunderstood…

I honestly hope that if this is you or your partner that we are catching the situation early on. The longer this carries on the harder it gets to make the internal adjustments necessary to heal the wounds of your relationship before the get infected and the disease seeps in to the blood stream and circulates throughout the whole body of your relationship. Shock ensues, followed by coma and organ failure eventually leading you to pulling the plug. If you are in the coma phase please don’t give up…instead wake up! Life can be fun. Relationships can be an adventure. We just need to grow up and dumb it down. Simplify; and as a team, give it one more honest try.

Whether you’re diagnosing this early on or a few years in, my opinion is that it takes the same effort and approach to turn things around. In essence, I believe it will take the following, which is my interpretation of “Vulnerability.” In my opinion it takes both people embracing these 5 elements – desire, love, honesty, admittance and understanding. Seriously, you both truly need to have the desire to save the relationship or else you wont have what it takes to put in the effort. As I said, remember the love and let it shine through, it will be the light that guides you along this path. It will help motivate you and bring you peace. Every action, every statement, every conversation, every thought and feeling needs to be grounded in unbridled and genuine honesty; no games, no tests… Admit your faults, errors and shortcomings and own up to your half of the equation. Finally, be understanding in order to hopefully understand… What do I mean? Create an environment that nurtures a disposition to appreciate or share the feelings and thoughts of others, i.e. sympathy. In turn, this will bring a reconciliation of differences; a state of agreement…

I just wish people could strip down their personal shields and pride in light of the love and caring that they have for their partner. Instead of learning how to win arguments or to get your way and make them not bother trying we should be giving our all to trying to understand each others thought processes, ideals and goals. I’m not saying we can’t have heated arguments ever, I’m just thinking that it makes sense to understand how to get down to the real issues at hand that fuel the dispute and learn how to get through it and grow together. I’m thinking that it would be amazing if we could have open and honest communication at all times even in the midst of disagreement. Unfortunately this is all absurdly dependant first on having trust and vulnerability with your partner. I have observed countless times people acting one way with their partners and another with their friends, myself included. Your partner should be your friend too and we should be accepting each other for who we truly are. If there is one person on this planet that we should not have to act in front of or hide emotions from it is our lover!


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