Healthy responsibility is fundamental in building a strong and thriving relationship, but what does responsibility in a marriage mean?
The Oxford Dictionary describes responsibility as:
- Having to deal with something or having control over someone.
- The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.
Responsibility, therefore, involves being accountable for your actions, choices and commitments within the relationship.
In this blog, we’ll explore the significance of responsibility in marriage and why it is the gateway to moving from conflict to a harmonious and conscious partnership.
The Greatest Challange
When I take a deeper dive with couples into their struggling relationships, I often see a pattern of partners handing control of their lives over to the other.
This is akin to having two feathers blowing around in the wind. The relationship is not on solid footing but instead rooted in codependency. Each partner unconsciously invites the other to be responsible for their lives but feels angry when they feel controlled.
And when you make someone else responsible for your life, you hand over control. Someone else has the keys to your life in their pocket, and they control how you feel. No one will allow themselves to be controlled over time.
Maybe you wanted the good stuff, but there are always two sides to the coin. Now you have simultaneously handed over your power and lost your autonomy. This is a recipe for hurt and confusion.
One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else……you are not taking responsibility for your life. Iylana Vanzant.
So then, when the Oxford Dictionary refers to ‘having control over someone’ in a relationship, what this means is taking control of our own life. That someone is you. While your partner contributes to your happiness, they are not responsible.
Healthy Adults Take Responsibility
In his book How To Be An Adult in Love, David Richo  says that healthy adults take responsibility for their feelings and do not always expect or need to feel good. That is something numerous of us find difficult. I know that there are many times that I have struggled to sit with confusing and distressing feelings.
But what a mature, healthy relationship provides is a setting that honours and enriches the stability that you have within you. You can navigate these moments instead of looking for relief from outside, i.e., your partner.
Moving From Blame To Responsibility
The tentativeness of taking healthy responsibility in your marriage stems from unmet childhood needs that now spill over into our adult lives. Childhood experiences leave complicated footprints in the psyche. Children often feel responsible for their parent’s feelings when they are not. Some adults recall being blamed or inappropriately asked to take responsibility for a parent’s feelings.
Many women do not know what they want, need, or desire because, as children, this wasn’t encouraged or considered greedy or selfish. Good girls keep quiet and do not ask for what they want.
When we take responsibility, we learn to distinguish the demands of our needy inner child from our adult needs in our now-adult relationship. We do not expect our partner to fill in the gaps. Instead, we take the opportunity to cultivate a deeper relationship with ourselves. This changes something in the relationship. The endless cycle of disappointment stops, and your partner doesn’t feel much pressure.
What this also means is means that we drop the blame. Blame comes from defensiveness and implies that the problem isn’t you, which is the opposite of responsibility.
Blame inhibits self-reflection and blocks your expansion and the growth of your relationship.
Learning To Respond
Healthy responsibility is not about taking the blame. Instead, it is about committing to your happiness and opening the door to create a new, intensely connected relationship with your partner.
Responsible consists of two words – ‘response’ and ‘able’. We respond well to our loved ones when we are not reactive. Our reactivity lets us know we are disconnected. To be responsible in a marriage, we must be self-aware and get to know who we are. In addition, and first and foremost, we respond to ourselves with curiosity and kindness.
How To Cultivate Responsibility In Your Marriage
- Prioritise your growth. Take responsibility for your own personal growth and development within the marriage. This benefits you and the relationship as you bring authenticity and integrity to the partnership.
- Recognise individual responsibility. Each partner takes responsibility for their actions, behaviours and contributions to the relationship. Taking ownership of your words and deeds is crucial for maintaining trust and creating a sense of security within the marriage.
- Fulfil commitments. Words are sacred. Make sure your words and actions are in alignment. Follow through on promises you make to your partner, whether honouring agreements or prioritising the quality of time together for filling.
- Master your emotions. Take responsibility for understanding your feelings and emotions. Let them become your best friends. Doing so will make you more attentive and empathic to your partner. Offer yourself self-compassion and show your partner understanding during challenging times. Supporting each other emotionally makes your marriage feel safe.
- Continuous learning and adaptation. Marriages evolve, and adapting and learning from experiences is essential. Take responsibility for your path to the relationship’s growth and evolution. Embrace opportunities to learn together, seek feedback and make adjustments to improve the marriage continually.
Being responsible in the marriage is a powerful commitment contributes to its strength and longevity. You can cultivate a marriage built on accountability and mutual respect. Remember, while responsibility requires ongoing effort and dedication from both partners, keep focused and be responsible for your own journey with responsibility.
Over To You
Are you ready to get unstuck from the power struggles and discover the pathway to sustaining love by taking responsibility in your relationship?
If you’re stuck and want to shift from blaming to taking responsibility for your life, get in touch for a clarity session. I can help.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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 How To Be An Adult in Love, The Five Mindful Keys To Mindful Loving, David Richo
© Sandra Harewood 2023
Soul Centred couples therapist, counsellor and Jungian Shadow Work coach Sandra Harewood specialise in working with women and couples stuck at a crossroads in their marriage. Relationships are precious; this is your chance to begin a new journey and experience the connection and intimacy you most deeply desire.
Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore creative solutions to their difficulties and deepen their self-knowledge to discover what keeps them ‘stuck’ in their marriages to create and experience extraordinary relationships.