THE most dangerous question in a relationship… “Do I deserve better?”
Why is it the most dangerous question?
First of all, if you are being physically abused or if your partner is habitually cheating on you, there is a bigger problem that is not addressed in this article and this should be addressed through seeking shelters or getting professional help.
However, if you are asking yourself this question in the context of a long-term relationship or marriage that does not seem to be going well, there will be problems. The answer to the question is of course “YES!” You deserve the best of the best! But asking this question will not lead you to a positive change or to a better relationship.
Instead, it changes your view of the relationship and leads to chronic disappointment, overarching negativity, emotional abuse, and affairs! Isn’t that strange? It seems like such a common question and one that you should ask about other things in your life (like your stressful job or your cramped house). But let me elaborate on how this question is killing your relationship:
The minute you ask yourself if you deserve better, in order to answer the question you begin to observe the positives in OTHER things that you could have if you were not in a relationship with your spouse. When you start asking yourself this you suddenly start to notice things like:
• That attractive co-worker who always seems happy and positive.
• Your single friend who tells great stories of fun and excitement.
• Someone else’s spouse who seems so loving and catering.
• They didn’t do the dishes.
• They’re always taking their laptop to bed
• They forgot to pay the cable bill.
• And they just criticized you again.
The Perfect Storm
When you ask yourself this question, you are purposefully putting your focus on all the things that could be going well if you were single or with someone else, while getting you more upset about the (possibly minor) issues in your own relationship. Do you see how this keeps getting more dangerous? It’s a quick road to disaster, creating a perfect storm for resentment and affairs without anything to stop it.
The obvious problem here is that you have no idea about the flip-side to what you are noticing outside of your relationship. The controlling nature of your co-worker, the daily loneliness of your single friend, and the fact that the supposedly “loving spouse” is also having an emotional affair with a friend from college… Also, you forget all the great things that your partner does in your relationship because you shifted your focus to all of the crappy things! You only see what you want to see when you ask the question “Do I deserve better?” As a result, you treat your partner negatively and they respond negatively!
What should you do instead?
Well, if you have asked this question already, you are probably stuck in a bind where you cannot help but notice the positives in others and the negatives in your spouse. In order to shift this mindset and create change, start incorporating the following habits to create a better relationship and start noticing the positives:
• Ask yourself what you appreciate about your spouse – and then TELL THEM!
• Think about something to look forward to when you see them (i.e. giving them a happy “hello” or a big kiss).
• Remind yourself how small the issues actually are – the dishes can get cleaned later, you paid the bill late but there were no issues in keeping it on, they kind of had a reason to be critical in the first place.
• Practice gratitude – make daily notes of what you are grateful for in your relationship.
Practicing these habits will bring your focus back to what you love about your partner. After, you automatically begin treating your partner better and they begin responding better. Also, for the sake of everyone, stop asking yourself if you deserve better. Instead, make your relationship the best that it can be and make it one that you do deserve! The grass is not greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it. If there are things that you want to see different, take the reigns and start communicating about them rather than adopting the victim mindset.
Leave your comments below and let me know how this question has changed your relationship.
About The Author
Chris Cummins is a couples counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He focuses on working with with couples in high conflict and couples who are experiencing substance abuse. Living in Colorado, Chris enjoys hiking traveling and anything else outdoors.