How You Can Make Your Partners Feel Great
As a professional woman, how do we navigate relationships in our new world, where we often make more than our partners? Are you for example, paying for a lovely meal, or springing for a weekend trip because you’re in the fortunate position to? As men have come to accept that women are now significant earners and leaders in society, we have also had to change our expectations of what we both provide. In some cases, this can be confusing. We need tools.
To that end, recently I came across a great book called “The Five Languages of Love” by Gary Chapman: Gary talks about how gift giving, affirmations, acts of service, spending quality time and bestowing physical touch, are all different types of expressions of love, or “love languages”. You can have both primary, and secondary love languages. Once you identify how your partner is expressing their love, you may be less likely to judge your relationship from the traditional perspective. Thus putting less pressure on them, as well as you. Below are some scenarios to start you thinking about some potential solves.
Scenario 1: The Anniversary Dinner
It’s your anniversary dinner and your loved one has brought you a lovely gift and written a beautiful card. Although he makes less than you, he’s a traditional gift giver and likes spending on you to show his love. This potentially could upset him as you make more, and may expect expensive gifts or dinners that he can’t afford. So as your own gift-giving gesture, why not offer to cover dinner? Before doing so, assess whether this could be perceived as an insult, or whether it would be a welcome surprise. If it’s not an insult, make the evening extra special, and bring on the champagne!
Scenario 2: Like Peanut Butter & Jam
You’re a time-starved professional woman, and your partner is not and in a very stable 9-5 job. With lots of free time, he expects to spend lots of time with you on weekends, doing all sorts of activities like biking, yoga, family dinners – the list goes on. You find it all wonderful, but need time also to follow-up on work emails and finish presentations. How do you balance your partner’s need with your demanding career? One potential solve is to block off time during the same hours each week as “work hours”. And then the rest of the weekend you can be just like peanut butter & jam – free to be better together.
Scenario 3: The Hard-core “Gifter”
In this case, you’re also dating a time-starved professional and you rarely see him. He makes up for it by sending you flowers, gifts in the mail and scheduling Face Time calls once or twice a week. You make up for it by sending sweet text messages to which he gladly responds. But there’s something missing for you both – and that’s quality time. So in this scenario where you send affirmations, and he sends gifts as love gestures, you both need to be aware you still need to spend quality time. Block off a weekend trip, and swear off emails – you can do it!
Scenario 4: Professional PDA (public display of affection)
It’s your first date; you met a guy online in a similar profession, and had a couple of amazing Face Time chats. You get to your venue and you have so much in common, and are into each other right away (bonus)! You decide to sit on the cozy couch fireside, and he’s already bestowing affection. You’re a little taken aback. You’re starting to think “what if there are people I know in this place who will see us and bring this back to some of my work colleagues?” Now your eyes are darting around scoping out for work friends. Affection is clearly his language of love, but you’re not keen to be seen by anyone in your professional life. In this case, you’re better off saying you’re loving the attention, but would prefer to slow things down until you’re in a more private setting.
At the end of the day, when you understand how both you and your partner express yourselves, much confusion can be cleared. From a professional woman’s perspective, it can be helpful to know that a relationship is not necessarily unfair if a partner does not always contribute financially, but say – in acts of service. And while the traditional paradigm seems highly romantic, who pays for what, when, does not necessarily define your worth.