Are You Taking Your Partner for Granted?

Updated: Apr 14

by Dawn Billings, founder of RelationshipHelp.com

Every time you take someone for granted,

you are teaching them how to live without you.


Do you feel like you are always working your tail off to show how much you love and appreciate the partner of your dreams and yet you get little to no appreciation or acknowledgment back? Even a small recognition or compliment from them means everything to you but sadly that rarely comes your way no matter how hard you try. Well you are not alone. The givers somehow magically attract the takers and the cycle of feeling taken for granted lives on.


If you feel that you do most of the initiating conversations, initiating sex, send loving 'just thinking of you' text messages, plan dates, buy gifts, do small thoughtful things to let them know you care, etc., and they barely give you a grunt of approval or appreciation you are probably a warm, loving person who feels taken for granted. People who draw their values from the warmth side of the color personality wheel value people, and people's feelings are important to you. You work so hard to make them feel loved that you find you sacrifice yourself. You consciously keep your demands low. You don’t want to burden anyone with your needs or desires because you understand how difficult it is to keep everyone happy. This is ironic to say the least. So you shower your love on others hoping that they will someday see how much you give and choose to love and care for you in the same way you love them.


If you are the partner on the receiving end of this barrage of care and concern, you may have acclimated to your partner's kindness, even to the point that your partner's desperate desire to appreciate and care for you feels somewhat smothering and becomes annoying. This usually means that you draw your values from the strength side of the personality color values wheel. People who draw their values from strength versus warmth don't see the need of all that affirmation of words. After all words are simply words. What you respect is action. So if you work hard to support your family, pay the bills, take care of the automobiles, the yard, and barbecue on occasion, what more could a partner want?


This is a all to common scenario. There is a partner that lives to give and a partner that feels fine to take. And by take I mean 'take for granted' the constant giving efforts of their partner.


But this imbalance of give and take can create feelings of resentment that eventually chip away at the giving partner's desire to continue to give. When we begin to feel entitled to all our partner does for us, we no longer feel that we need to appreciate them for what they do.


If you are taking your partner for granted you need to realize that what we take for granted, often gets taken by someone who doesn't. Gratitude and appreciate are so easy to give. It costs nothing to say "Thank you.", "I appreciate you.", "I notice all you do for me." Although appreciation cost nothing, it pays huge relationship dividends.


If you are taking your partner for granted consider this. You might be suffering from what I call the Maui Syndrome. What is the Maui Syndrome, and how does it cause us to get bored with our relationships, jobs, cars, etc.? Let me use a personal story to explain how the Maui Syndrome works:


When I first got the opportunity to go to Maui I was overwhelmed by its splendor. I stood on the ocean that first evening I arrived so touched by the beauty that I wept. After seven days there I had stopped weeping. Was it because Maui had changed or gotten ugly? No, I was because I had acclimated to it. A human beings ability to acclimate is an extraordinary and powerful gift, however it creates havoc on relationships. When we acclimate to anything we begin to lose the “awe”, or reverence, we felt in the beginning that put so much passion and life into what we were feeling.


That is exactly how many couples have told me they felt about their partners when they first met—in awe. They loved their smile, the sound of their voice, they talked for hours and couldn’t get enough of one another until one day they were feeling instead, that they had had enough! So how do couples avoid the devastation the Maui Syndrome can bring to relationships?


You can keep your connection strong by continually working to keep the “awe”. Simple comments can remind you and your partner that you care. You may not need lots of quality time together. In fact, you and your partner may not need to talk more; you simply need to talk more lovingly and appreciatively.


Below are 8 key phrases that will enhance and strengthen a loving bond.


1. AWEsome phrase #1: “I am fortunate to love you” Remembering that love is a gift and we are always fortunate to have the chance to receive it, as well as to give it, helps both partners in a relationship remember the “awe”. As humans, we must remind ourselves of the gifts in front of us that we can easily become acclimated or accustomed, and therefore in a real sense, blind to.


2. AWEsome phrase #2: “You are warm and generous person” Research shows that people respond more positively to compliments for internal character traits such: “You’re a good, kind, helpful, trustworthy or thoughtful person.” In an on-line survey done by Laurie Puhn for her book “Fight Less, Love More” they found that 84% of people reported they wanted their mate to compliment them for being kind rather than good-looking.


3. AWEsome phrase #2: “Because I love you.” My oldest son is not a neat-nick but his father certainly is. My son used to ask me, “Why does dad get so upset about my room, it doesn’t’ bother me!” I explained, “We don’t always do things because they make sense to us; we choose to do them because they are important to someone we love. We each have different love languages. We experience love differently. Dad experiences love when your room is tidy. Don’t do it for you, do it for him.” When someone knows that we choose to do things because they are important to the one we love, it touches them and makes them want to do things for us as well. What can you do for your partner that you know is important to them? How many times can you choose to do something thoughtful out of love.


4. AWEsome phrase 3: “I see your point” Want to bring a smile to your partner’s face? That’s simple: After your partner has explained his/her viewpoint on anything from a current event to your child’s behavior, ponder the comment and respond, “I never thought of it that way. I can see your point.” We each see the world through different lenses colored by our experiences, education, values and background. It is important that your partner feel that their opinion matters to you (even if you don’t agree with the opinion). Once someone senses that you respect their ideas, they are more likely to listen to and respect yours. To understand more fully how you might see the world differently than your partner visit: Primary Colors Personality.com and take the Primary Colors Personality Test on your computer, tablet or phone. It is a fun, interesting and easy way to begin to understand yourself and those around you more deeply.


5. AWEsome phrase #3: “Good night” When we love and care for someone what are the last words we say to them each evening? When you think of your small children can you imagine not saying “Good night” before they go to bed? Most parents cannot. In Puhn’s online survey they found that 25% of the couples surveyed didn’t bother to say “good night” to their partner. Fact: Of those who forget to say goodnight, 70% thought about ending the relationship in the last year. It is usually the small things that break the heart and soul of a relationship. It is death by a thousand paper cuts. Say “good night”, but more importantly mean “good night”. Add a tender kiss as well. When people believe you care about them, they are much more willing to engage in a deeper, more loving connection.


6. AWEsome phrase #4: “I am grateful for____ OR I appreciate you.” Each day find something to thank your partner for. Many couples have said, “They are doing their job. I will thank them when they do something worthy of appreciation.” What you will find is that when you are thankful of simple every day things that might be “part of our jobs” like taking out the trash, or helping with homework, preparing dinner, you will see that your partner does even more things for you to be thankful for. Appreciation feeds the heart of a relationship. I recommend you serve it up daily.


7. AWEsome phrase #5: “I was thinking of you and _______” A little bit of remembering shows a lot of love. What does your partner love? Is there a way that you can remember them in a delicious and small way? Do they have a favorite author, ice cream, music, etc., that you can remember to surprise them with a “thinking of you” gift. We all need to believe that someone who loves us is thinking about us. Put notes in suitcases, under pillows, make a special dish. If you communicate your love in consistent ways, the chances of your relationship falling apart are greatly reduced.


8. AWEsome phrase #5: “I am sorry.” There was a famous movie called Love Story when I was younger and one of the lines in the movie was “Love means never having to say you are sorry.” I think they were attempting to communicate that when you are in love, your partner knows that you would never hurt them on purpose. However, it has been my experience in working with wounded couples that those nine words need to be replaced with these nine words, “I am sorry. I love you. Please forgive me.” Having the courage to admit when we have been wrong, or hurt our beloved makes an extraordinary difference in the health, trust and strength of a relationship.


The strength of our relationships is determined by our willingness to infuse our relationship with values like respect, tenderness, appreciation, compassion, loyalty and integrity. Our relationships are fostered or destroyed every day by simple loving phrases, or the lack of them and the actions that follow. If you use these 8 AWEsome phrases you’ll witness miracles in your relationship.


Human beings are incredibly adaptable. We are so adaptable in fact, that we are capable of numbing ourselves, even to the experience of paradise. We do this in many areas of our lives.


Let’s explore another way the Maui Syndrome affects our everyday lives through acclimation. As I stated, human beings acclimate, we adjust. We become familiar. In fact we are driven to become familiar because of the safety it brings to our lives.


But if along the way our familiarity and safety cause us to become numb to paradise and allow entitlement to twist our thoughts into self- focused, ungrateful, self-consumed, bored behaviors to the point that our lives feel horribly boring, or even begin to feel like a prison of disparity and lack; then the extraordinary gift of life, love, our safest relationships and our peace has been wasted on us.


We are a society of excess and greed. When I was younger, I watched an extremely wealthy man being interviewed on television. He was asked, “How much is enough?” His reply was simple, “Just a little more.”


Entitlement makes us greedy. It allows boredom to take root and numbs us to our present opportunities to reconnect and reengage with those we love. It attempts to keep our focus in the future or in the past. This keeps us stuck, whining, complaining, and feeling very disappointed.


When we attempt to live in the future or the past there are no real possibilities because neither place exists.


As human beings we are ultimately designed to adapt and that ability to quickly adapt can cause us to feel unsatisfied. We begin to recall with great fondness our last minute cruise to the Bahamas, or the $700 we spent on a new phone without having to consult anyone, or when we could stay up all night and sleep in all day.


Once we get our dream job, it no longer is our dream. Once we switch careers, we long for the comfort of the old job. And once you acclimate to the point you get beyond the excitement of the novelty of marriage, the honeymoon stage with all the butterflies and tingles, the fun of buying a home, or the excitement of having your first child, you settle into what began as a comfortable routine, that became so comfortable it became boring. We have thoughts like, “It was so great in the past, look at me now?” “I wish I was back in the past experiencing what was great.” Or “I cannot stand the thought of a future filled with ONLY this!”


If we choose to live in the future dreaming of something different that might bring us a moment of happiness, it is easy for us to forget how to enhance and strengthen the gifts we have already been given. We forget what an extraordinary blessing it is to have all of the good things we have.


But that is not all; when it comes to personal relationships we give the Maui Syndrome a sharp twist. Not only are we capable of becoming desensitized to a relationship that started out wonderfully, we can take the very thing that we loved most about a person when we met them, and turn it into the thing that drives us insane. A person’s greatest strength can, over time, be perceived as their greatest weakness.


If we forget to CELEBRATE and APPRECIATE the life we are living, the people we are loving, and the opportunities that surround us, we have sold out our lives for a cheap pair of glasses with “I am BORED” or "What have you done for me lately?" etched in over their lenses. The saddest thing of all is that this bored entitled existence brings us no joy at all, only suffering.


When we begin to focus on what we perceive isn’t there versus taking a clear and grateful look at what is, we lose ourselves and all that we care about in an illusion of boredom and misery that is self-made and can only bring us unhappiness.


Through our boredom and self-made misery, we become blind, blind to the very things that have the potential to bring us our greatest joy. When you look into your partner's eyes challenge yourself to remember how you felt your first day in Maui. How did you feel when you first met your partner? How much did you long to hear their voice, spend time with them and dream about your life with them. Dealing with the Maui Syndrome is easy. Simply remember and allow yourself to once again experience the AWE of your relationship.

Dawn L. Billings is the author and architect of the Primary Colors Personality Tests and Insight Tools.

Dawn is the founder of RelationshipHelp.com and the executive director of the luxury Relationship Help Resort in Arizona. Dawn is the creator of the ONLINE Relationship Help at Home relationship programs, and also the creator of OverJOYed Life, a powerful, positive work culture initiative. Dawn is the inventor of the patented parenting tool for toddlers called CAPABLES.


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