My parents advised what they did in their own marriage: “both of you always think about giving 90% to your partner and you both will be very happy.” They meant it’s so important to think about how your partner is feeling, to stand in their shoes, to be giving and compromising, and emotionally generous. That 10% is for the understanding that sometimes it’s also OK to be a bit selfish, to place your needs first, or stand firm on something. They also made clear that this only works if you are both giving 90%.
I just celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary. I definitely think about my spouse’s needs and feelings the majority of the time and try to be compromising. In return I feel he is 90% thinking of me and how to consider my feelings and be supportive and loving. Sometimes this means giving something up, but actually most times this means we both get what we want and we both feel very loved, supported, and that we are in each other’s corner. I don’t feel afraid to be giving, because he really has my best interests at heart. We are a terrific team and often we agree on what we want. And when we don’t, we tend to take turns supporting the other’s wants.
Dr. Gail Saltz, is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian’s Weill-Cornell Medical College. She has partnered with Tylenol on the new #HowWeFamily program and national study to share more information about the modern American family. For more information visit HowWeFamily.com