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Are You Parenting Your Partner?

Updated: 2 days ago

If your partner is parenting you, it means they are taking on a parental role in your relationship. This could be making decisions for you, telling you what to do, or trying to control your actions. It may even mean they speak to you in condescending tones or put you down. If your partner is treating you like a child or parenting you in the relationship, it can be difficult to handle and can be a sign of an unhealthy dynamic. It's important to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Ask yourself if this behavior is making you feel respected and valued in the relationship. If not, it's important to talk to your partner about setting boundaries and expectations. Communicate your feelings and needs in a clear and respectful way, and be open to hearing their perspective. If the behavior persists despite your efforts to address it, consider seeking outside help such as counseling to help you both navigate the situation. It's important to ensure that both partners are respected and treated equally in any relationship. Parenting your partner would not be healthy for either of you. Instead, focus on open communication, understanding, and mutual respect. This will ensure that both of you are getting your needs met and that your relationship is built on a strong foundation.

Shadowed couple sitting and looking at each other

Part of that strong foundation is building more positive interactions. Marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman states that a couple needs 5 positive interactions to every 1 negative interaction. It's ok to have conflict and to be angry, but happy couples don't put each other down, get defensive or show contempt through eye-rolling, sarcasm, jokes at the others' expense, etc. Instead, they work on repairing the conflict and give each other empathy and validation.

Instead of parenting your partner, try these research-based suggestions:

  1. Focus on yourself. Parenting your partner can be a sign of insecurity, or codependency. Take the time to focus on yourself and your own wellbeing. Try your own therapy, hobbies and interests and be willing to let your partner make mistakes.

  2. Respect your partner’s decisions. Your partner is an adult and should be allowed to make their own decisions without you interfering.

  3. Encourage your partner. Instead of trying to control your partner, focus on encouraging them and building them up. Be a coach and cheerleader, not a rescuer or persecutor. (see my post on the Drama Triangle). This will help foster a healthier relationship and will lead to both of you feeling less controlled and more respected.

  4. Be Interested and curious. Listen to your partner and ask open-ended questions to get their side of things.

  5. Express Affection by holding hands, hugging, kissing, snuggling. Saying "thank you" and "I appreciate..." and giving compliments can also go a long way. Doing little things can add up, so do them often. Some other ideas may include: Picking up dinner, bringing home their favorite snack when you stop at the store, filling up their gas tank, etc.

  6. Hold Hands. Gottman also suggests holding hands when you are having difficult conversations.

  7. Respect. Allowing your partner respect for their points of view, even if you disagree, keeps you on equal playing ground.

  8. Empathy shows people you understand how they feel and validate their experience. Empathy in a relationship adds tons of positive mileage.

  9. Say your sorry when you've done something wrong.

  10. Be playful. Laughing, giggling, being silly, having inside jokes and having fun date nights and activities together all help build that happy foundation.


Woman on man's back in a field , both smiling

All these suggestions go a long way toward helping shift the dynamics of your parent/child relationship. nobody is equal in a relationship, but we can find ways to be equitable. Treating your partner fairly and respectfully leads to happy and healthy partnership and you both deserve that! To learn more about healthy relationships, work with me. Reach out here.

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