More Harm than Good: 3 Reasons You Can’t Be the Bigger Person in Your Relationship

BY: - 9 Jan '17 | Marriage

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By Ryan McMillian, MDIV, MFT

Have you ever recited all the words to a song you disliked? You knew the words and moved to the beat, yet cringed every time you heard it. Couples often have the same core argument repeatedly, and they dance to the tune that the late lamb chop ventriloquist, Shari Lewis, called the song that doesn’t end.

Heads shake or drop, stomachs turn, and you’re probably thinking here we go again. To stop the nauseating soundtrack, with good intentions, you decide to put on the “bigger person” cape to swoop in and save the relationship.

While this plan to save the relationship sounds good, it can backfire. Here are 3 reasons you can’t be the bigger person in your relationship.

1. It places the elephant in the room.

Usually, the “bigger person” tucks away or pushes down his feelings to protect self and others. When this occurs, the elephant certainly follows. The longer the elephant remains in the room, the more your resentment builds. Each time the elephant is ignored it’s like rubbing wood together on the inside. If you rub for too long or too hard, a fire starts. You may think you’re doing the relationship a favor through holding back, but this only feeds the elephant that no one talks about until the fire spreads.

I can hear the voice of many clients past say “aren’t we supposed to pick and choose our battles?” Sure. I am not recommending a better-out-than-in approach where your words become weapons and you take your partner to task any chance you get. Rather, I suggest you find safe ways to let your loved one in. Show him the elephant, so at least he knows that you’re offended. Otherwise, your partner will be blindsided with the news about your growing resentment.

2. It causes unbalanced strength.

My experience with the “bigger person” narrative is that these individuals feel they can handle or take emotional hits better than their mates. You’re the “strong” one. You know your significant other well enough to know what he can take, so you work around his limitations.

Here, strength is defined by the amount of stress you can bear without sharing its impact on you. A perspective shift may be helpful here. I have rarely encountered a person that wished to be viewed as weak. If you both want to have strong moments in the relationship, you have to share the pain. Your partner is stronger than you think, and they want to hear about your limitations too. When we cease to see our partners as weak, we first empower them. Then, we tell them the depth of their strength through providing opportunities for them to care for us.

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3. It increases defensiveness.

Have you ever said to your significant other, “I am tired of always being the bigger person in this relationship?” You can predict what happens next. Comparisons breed defensiveness. You share your goodness in the face of their faults. This “I’m good, and you’re bad” dichotomy rarely leads to the intended result of apologies and happily ever after moments. Comparisons can single-handedly rob your relationship of its good and joyous moments. It’s the start of a recurring nightmare.

Comparisons can single-handedly rob your relationship of its good and joyous moments.

Rather than saving the relationship through “bigger” person tactics, become the best you. Do not hide important parts of who you are. Your best self may listen more carefully to your partner’s needs, and share your needs without criticizing. The next time you plan to be the bigger person in the relationship, reconsider your approach and focus on becoming the best you. To be the best you and change the tune into a riveting up tempo groove, address the elephant, view your partner as strong and eliminate comparisons.

BMWK –  do you find  that being the bigger person, helps or hurts your relationship in the long run?  Let us know your thoughts.

Ryan McMillian is a marriage and family therapist in Philadelphia, PA. He facilitates workshops, speaks for events and publishes relationship tip blogs on ryanmcmillian.com.

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LOVE HACKS: 3 Simple Tips that Will Help You Love Your Married Life

BY: - 9 Jan '17 | Marriage

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By: Vanessa Thorpe

A couple of days ago, my husband texted me five little words that melted my heart. They served as confirmation that we were doing something right. “I love our life together. That is all the text said.

I do not know what sparked him to send the text, but I am so glad to be reassured that our marriage is solidified with the mutual satisfaction of our oneness.

What makes our marriage so great?

There are a lot of things that make our marriage great.  But I think my husband was referring to the way we live our life. One of our favorite mottos is “memories over materials”.

We value creating memories over obtaining material possessions. Owning a big fancy house is nice. But, living in a loving, nurturing home does more for your marriage than the actual structure you live in. This is not to say that you cannot have both…but it is to stress that life isn’t about stuff. It is about those meaningful moments that you cherish and hold on to that help to strengthen bonds and relationships.

In marriage, it is about resetting your priorities to ensure that you are living an abundant life rather than existing in the same space by going through the motions of adulthood. My husband and I do everything together; we do not just exist as two people living in the same space. Shared experiences can transform your marriage.

For every experience you share, a deposit is made in the “Love Bank”.  When your life is so purposely driven towards oneness and shared experiences, you create such an abundance of deposits that it creates a buffer to withdrawals. It helps you to keep your eye on the bigger picture and remain focused on the positive.

Here are 3 simple tricks that will help you love your married life with your spouse.

1. Be adventurous.

Discover a way to step outside of the ordinary on a regular basis. Be adventurous, travel together and actually get away from your everyday life. This is a good way of resetting and recharging your lives. My husband and I travel a lot, we enjoy experiencing new cities and doing something exciting everywhere we go. We like road trips; it gives us time to connect, catch up or play silly road games and laugh.

2. Discover your thing.

You’re married…so you share something in common. Discover that and make it your “thing”. Anyone who knows my husband and I knows that we are foodies (actually traveling foodies because we will travel for food, but I digress). We keep a running list of restaurants that we want to try, we watch the food channel and we text each other exciting food finds. It’s our thing and it keeps us connected. Maybe it’s the love of the arts, horse racing whatever it is, discover it and use it to spark shared experiences.

3. Build a tribe.

I truly believe that healthy marriages are contagious. Having a solid group of friends creates a healthy supportive environment that enhances what you have as an individual couple. The camaraderie and fellowship promotes each couple to do more, love harder, live more abundantly. As you look forward to BBQs, game nights, couples trips and outings with your mutual friends, it enhances the life that you share together and solidifies your oneness as a couple.

BMWK – let us know below…what makes you LOVE being married?

Vanessa Thorpe of Louisville, KY is a wife and mother to four beautiful children. Recently obtaining her Master’s degree in Conflict Management, she has developed a passion for enhancing the lives of others in many ways. Vanessa is a devout Christian woman and community leader who lives by faith and is extremely passionate about building self-confidence, through the love of God, acceptance and positivity.

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BMWK Staff wrote 1219 articles on this blog.

Content and articles from the staff and guest contributors of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com

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