How to Take Charge of Your Relationship
You need to take the initiative and create the relationship that you want.
If this headline caught your eye, odds are something is a little off in your relationship. You feel out of control and don’t know why. There are plenty of reasons why your relationship hasn’t turned out the way you thought. But the main reason you likely feel this way is because you’ve given up more of yourself than you should have.
The best way to take charge of your relationship is to take charge of yourself. It’s your job to make sure your relationship is going the way that you want. This is not to say that you should be controlling or demanding. But it is your responsibility to explain your feelings and needs.
Your partner can’t read your mind and they can’t do everything for you. You are responsible for shaping your relationship in a way that is healthy for you. Just as your partner is responsible for shaping the relationship in a way that is healthy for them. Both of you are responsible for your own happiness.
In this article, we’ll talk about three big ways you can take charge of your relationship.
1. Move At Your Own Pace
You can feel out of control when you’re not moving at your own pace. This can easily happen in relationships as you try to mesh two daily routines. It also happens when you try to balance each other’s feelings and desires for how fast or slow the relationship should progress.
If you feel like your relationship is out of control, it might be time to shift back to your own pace.
Daily Routine: To take control of your relationship, first take control of your daily routine. Does your schedule work for you or does it revolve around your partner’s timetable?
For example, you prefer to exercise in the evenings after work. But your partner always wants to hang out at that time. Don’t switch up your routine just so you can fit their schedule better. You can see your partner at a later time when it works best for both of you.
Similarly, your partner is a night owl but you desperately need a full night of sleep to function well. Don’t give up your sleep to spend more time with them. Again, you can do something together at a different time that works best for both of you.
Perhaps your partner wants to do dinner and a movie Friday night. But you’ve already got plans with your friends. Don’t cancel your plans. You can see your partner on Saturday night instead.
It’s important to move through your day at your own pace. Wake up, eat meals, work out, visit friends, and go to the grocery store when it fits your needs. Not just your partner’s. You and your partner can switch up your schedule to be with each other. That’s fine. Just as long as both of your needs are being met.
Relationship Milestones: You need to approach your relationship at your own pace. If you’re not ready to take the next step, then don’t! Ignoring the pace you need will cause unnecessary tension and regrets. Set your own pace for your relationship and ask your partner to be respectful of your needs.
If you and your partner constantly fight about the next milestone, the two of you may need to break up. If you’re ready for marriage and your partner is not, how long are you willing to wait around? Maybe your partner wants kids now but you want to finish school or start your career first. Constant disagreements about the pace of your relationship is a sign that the two of you may not fit well together. Even if you do love each other, it may be time to end your relationship. Work with a licensed therapist to help you navigate these specific troubles.
To take control of your relationship, set your own pace for your daily routine and relationship milestones. Moving at your partner’s pace through life and through your relationship will leave you feeling out of control. It’s no longer your routine and no longer your relationship. It is your partner’s.
Because it’s a relationship, you and your partner will need to get creative to make sure everyone’s needs are met. Don’t be pressured to change your pace and don’t pressure your partner to change theirs. Be respectful of each other’s needs. It’s not a compromise, it’s a partnership.
2. Take Care of Your Own Needs
You begin to feel out of control of your relationship when your needs aren’t being met. This happens when you give up your routine, hobbies, friends, career, family, and goals to accommodate the relationship. You are leaving a lot of your needs unmet. And now (without realizing it) you expect your partner to fulfill all of these needs. This leads your relationship to feel strained because your partner never measures up.
What needs are you asking your partner to fulfill? If you’re asking for too much, there’s no way your partner could ever meet all of your needs.
There are so many areas in our life that we need to experience fulfillment. Some include: career, hobbies, family, friends, health, adventure, learning, parenting, connection, spirituality, self-improvement, sexuality, creativity, and more.
And let’s face it. No matter how amazing your partner is, they can’t fulfill you in all of those ways. And they shouldn’t have to. You shouldn’t put all that pressure on them and your relationship.
Yes, you can lean on your partner for support. That’s one of the great things about relationships!
But you can’t expect your partner to care for your needs if you’re not even willing to take care of them yourself.
If you want to go salsa dancing every Thursday night, then go! If you still want to work while raising a family, do it! If you and your friends want to have a weekend getaway, then do it! Your relationship will be stronger the more you start to care for your own needs. Your partner will feel less pressure and both of you will feel more in control of your lives.
*It is possible to be asking for too little from your partner. This happens when you feel like you’re the one that is always giving. You do all the chores. You cancel your plans to fit theirs. You’re emotionally and physically available for them but they’re never available for you. You’re overwhelmed, overworked, or resentful. First, do the work to meet your own needs and create a routine that works best for you. Then talk with your partner about how they can contribute more to the relationship. Give clear examples like, “I need you to start taking out the trash and cleaning the bathrooms,” or “I’d like to do date night once a week.” Work together to make sure both of your needs are being met.*
3. Establish Boundaries
You can feel out of control of your relationship if it lacks important boundaries. Needing to set boundaries in a relationship sounds counter intuitive. Shouldn’t our love just flow naturally as we get along effortlessly? Isn’t that why we’re in a relationship?
That would be nice. But effortless is not a natural thing. You’re two different people. You have different backgrounds, needs, experiences, goals, and ways of doing things. Boundaries are what help you get along effortlessly. Research shows that the most connected and compassionate people set and respect boundaries. Wouldn’t you like that to describe your relationship: connected and compassionate? If so, it’s time to set some boundaries.
Boundaries are a clear place where you begin and the other person ends. They can be physical, emotional, or psychological. However, some common areas include time, space, resources, your body, communication, and home economics (ie: anything that makes your home function).
Some obvious examples of relationship boundaries include no physical abuse, no name calling, and no sex with other people. From here, every couple can set boundaries based on their own needs.
You might need Saturday mornings to yourself so you can volunteer at the homeless shelter. Maybe you and your partner decide to sleep with two different blankets at night so there are no fights about stealing the covers. Maybe you create a chore chart so you know what each person is responsible for doing.
At the beginning of a relationship, you’re not always aware of all the boundaries you’ll need. Life changes and so will your boundaries. That’s okay. Just keep an on-going conversation about boundaries. Remember, they are there to help ensure that your needs are being met.
A complete lack of boundaries may show that you don’t have a strong identity or are that you and your partner are enmeshed. Enmeshment is the opposite of boundaries and a threat to relationships. Enmeshed couples and families have no boundaries, no differentiation, and no independence. Enmeshment can be suffocating and unhealthy.
To have more control of your relationship, you need to establish more boundaries. They are the guideposts that will help you and your partner get along.
Conclusion: No One Is In Charge Of Your Relationship Except You
You are responsible for your relationship. Not your partner. If you are unhappy with your relationship, you need to change.
Maybe you’re not moving through the relationship at your own pace. Put the brakes on. Maybe you’re neglecting your own needs for the needs of your partner or your family. Carve out more time for yourself. Or maybe there are some important boundaries that you need to set with your partner. Have that conversation.
You need to take the initiative to create the relationship that you want. It won’t magically happen.
Change may be hard at first. Especially if the two of you have been together for a while. The important thing is that you are making these changes to improve your relationship.
If your partner is unwilling to accept these necessary changes, it’s time to consider splitting up. If your partner can’t create space for your needs, you shouldn’t be in a relationship with them. Either you lose yourself or you lose the relationship. If you lose yourself, the relationship will never be as fulfilling as you want it to be.
Taking charge of your relationship requires you to take charge of yourself. Move at your own pace, take care of your own needs, and establish important boundaries.