When you first get married you go out of your way a lot for your spouse. You will stop by their work and bring them something they forgot, you’ll forego going to your parents’ house on holidays so that your spouse can go to theirs. You’ll even let some things go that you used to set hard lines around in your previous relationships. I get it, you’re doing this out of love and kindness. After all, who wants to create unnecessary fights when you’re married? And if you just go with the flow, it usually stops fights from happening before they even start.
So when problems start to arise in our marriage, you can’t help but wonder why. You’re doing everything you can to be kind and accommodating, so why do you and your spouse still fight so much? Well, often the answer is because you’re being too kind. And when that happens it means you’re being a doormat as well.
When do you start becoming a doormat?
There’s a big difference between being kind and being a doormat. And the implications it has on your marriage are huge. For example, it’s kind to bring your spouse the lunch they left at home on the day of their big presentation and you know they won’t have time to go out to eat. But it’s something completely different when our spouse keeps forgetting their lunch and calling you expecting you to bring it to them. The difference is in the expectation of you to go out of your way for them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing to go out of your way for your spouse. I’ve said it before, marriage takes work. And that means that you’re going to need to stretch yourself in order for your marriage to be successful. But that doesn’t mean your partner is the one demanding you to stretch. You’re the one doing it because you feel it’s best for you. It’s helping you stretch and become the person you want to be.
Being a doormat is when you’re being someone you don’t want to be
If you find yourself going out of your way or bending a lot and then feeling resentment about it you’re probably being a doormat. This means that something about what you’re doing for your spouse just doesn’t sit right with you. You feel like it’s asking too much or you’re not getting appreciation or something like that. And the resentment you feel is your inner self’s way of telling you it’s not who you want to be. So ask yourself what you’re doing that is making you feel resentful. What are the specific behaviors? Maybe you’re the one taking off work all the time when the kids get sick. Maybe you’re the one who’s doing the bulk of the work in the house. Or maybe you’re the one who’s working two jobs because your partner isn’t holding a job. Whatever it is, you can’t fix it until you’ve identified it.
Once you’ve identified where the resentment is coming from, now go to work fixing it. So if you’re the one who’s taking work off all the time, talk to your spouse before hand and tell them that you are going to stop taking work off so much and they may need to talk to their boss in advance about getting off work in case of an emergency. Or if you’re the one who’s working two jobs, tell your partner you’re going to put in your notice at one of them and that they need to find a job to make up the difference. This might feel uncomfortable for you to assert yourself like this, but if it came naturally you’d be doing it already. This is going to take some deliberate work and attention
Stick to your word
Finally, once you’ve done the things above you’ve got to stick to your word. If you set a boundary but don’t keep it, the blame is on you just as much as it is on our spouse for you feeling like a doormat. You can’t resent your spouse for something that you’re not honoring yourself.