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Do You Love Your Partner More Than Your Partner Loves You?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 30, 2015

What can you do, other than leave the relationship, when you feel that you love your spouse but you don't feel loved by them?

Nelly and Scott have been married for twelve years and have two young children. Each state they love each other, yet Nelly does not feel loved by Scott, while Scott states that he is content with the relationship.

In their relationship system, Nelly tends to be the caretaker, while Scott is the taker. Nelly often thinks about what would please Scott, while Scott rarely thinks about what Nelly wants or feels.

What should Nelly do? Should she leave Scott, even though she loves him? Should she continue to try to get him to care about her, which has never worked? These are the questions Nelly had for me in a counseling session with me on the phone.

Nelly was quite surprised when I told her that neither action was warranted at this time.

"Nelly, there is a good possibility that the way Scott treats you is a mirror of how you treat yourself. How often do you think about what you want or how you feel?"

"Not very often. I usually think more about Scott and my kids than I do about myself. I think it's selfish to think about myself. I want to be loving, not selfish."

Nelly was confused between selfishness and self-responsibility. Actually, in their relationship, Scott was the one who was actively being selfish, in expecting Nelly to give herself up to take responsibility for his feelings and needs. But by not caring about her own feelings and needs, Nelly was training not only Scott, but her children as well to be selfish. The children were already learning to blame her for their feelings and expect her to give herself up for them. As soon as Scott or the children would get angry or withdraw, Nelly would feel guilty and responsible and give herself up to do what they wanted.

Nelly would not be able to tell whether Scott really loved her or not until she started to love herself. What if she left him and met another man? I assured her that the same thing would eventually happen if she remained a caretaker, because people usually end up treating us the way we treat ourselves.

"So what do I do?" asked Nelly. "I'm so used to taking care of everyone else. I have no idea how to take care of myself."

I began to help Nelly learn the Inner Bonding process. "Imagine that your feelings and needs are a small child that you've just adopted. What would you do to help her begin to feel loved?"

"Well, I would spend time with her, and listen to her and hold her. I would let her know that I'm here and not going away. I would do lots of things to help her feel safe and loved."

"Exactly!" I stated. "This is what you need to start to do for yourself. Keep imagining that your own feelings are a small child and you are the parent of this child. You really do know how to be loving - it's just that you've never thought about being loving to yourself. Take all that you've learned about giving to others and now give some of it to yourself."

Then we moved on to another aspect of Inner Bonding. "Nelly, do you have a source of spiritual Guidance that you turn to?"

"Yes," she replied. "I'm a Christian and I turn to Jesus."

"Good," I said. "Now you need to start asking Jesus for information regarding the loving action toward yourself. You do this by asking a question, such as, 'Jesus, what would the loving action be toward myself when Scott is angry with me?' or 'What is in my highest good when my children are being demanding or disrespectful toward me?' Then imagine what Jesus might say to you. You might have to make it up for awhile, but after awhile you will begin to experience that Jesus is actually answering you. You will begin to experience two-way communication between you and Jesus. Are you willing to try this?"

Nelly was willing. I cautioned her that Scott and her children might be upset with her for awhile, because they were used to her being a caretaker, but that if they really loved her and wanted her to be happy, they would end up supporting her in loving herself.

"But what if Scott just stays mad?" she asked.

"Well, then you can decide what is in your highest good. But until you are loving to yourself, you will not know the truth about Scott. Most of the people I've worked with have found that when they are practicing Inner Bonding and are loving to themselves long enough, their whole relationship improves. I can't guarantee it, but isn't it worth a try, rather than just giving up?"

"Yes, I don't really want to leave Scott. I'm excited about this. I finally have some hope for our relationship!"

The outcome? Instead of staying mad for long, Nelly was thrilled to discover that Scott was actually treating her more lovingly!


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