This might sound weird… but what if your partner was a dog?
You see, my friend owns a dog. He’s a good boy (the dog). His name is Bruce. Bruce the Dog.
Recently my friend moved, and took Bruce the Dog with him. His new place doesn’t have a fence.
To keep Bruce safe, he installed an electric fence and put a collar around Bruce’s neck that would beep at him if he ever got too close to the perimeter of the yard. And if Bruce ignored the buzzing, he’d get zapped enough to scare him back into the yard.
Bruce is a fast learner. He only needed to get zapped once or twice before he learned, “When I hear the buzz sound, I’m not safe. I should stop what I’m doing and turn around and go back where I came from.”
At least that’s what I assume he thinks in his good-dog brain.
After a few weeks, my buddy turned off the fence.
Bruce had learned to avoid the zones of the yard that would cause a beep or a shock. He didn’t know the fence was off, but he wasn’t some Jurassic Park raptor out testing the fences for weaknesses. He just got used to playing in the area that he knew was safe.
When he told me this story, I thought about my marriage… and your marriage too.
It doesn’t take too many “shocks” to teach your partner that something isn’t safe.
Sometimes you shock our partner with an eye-roll. Sometimes you shock them with a critical comment, “You’re not doing that right!” or “You’ve got to be kidding me…” Sometimes it’s a loud, irritated sigh, or an emotional outburst.
When you shock your partner, you tell them “You’re not safe if you keep doing what you’re doing. You’d better not do it again, or you’ll get zapped.”
So, they stop unloading the dishwasher… because they did it wrong last time.
Or the stop initiating sex, because they don’t want to get shut down again.
Or they stop trying to console you when you’re upset because you snapped at them last time.
Or they stop telling you when they bounce a check because they already feel stupid enough without you making it worse.
If they get shocked enough times, they stop planning dates, asking thoughtful questions, holding your hand, laughing at your jokes, or sharing their feelings with you.
Once you’ve been shocked, it can be really hard to muster up the courage to go back into territory that territory again.
Now, for the big question: In what areas of your relationship is your partner holding back? What would you like to see more of from them?
Is there a reason they might be holding back? Were they shocked by you or someone else in the past?
(A lot of men have gotten zapped in the past for sharing their feelings. A lot of women have been zapped for asking for what they want.)
How can you gently coax your partner out beyond the territory where they’ve been shocked before? How can you make them feel safe and free to start fresh without fear of punishment?
It’s not easy.
But if you want an all-in, 100% committed relationship, you’ve gotta learn to remove these electric fences that you (and other people) have put up around your partner.
If you can think of an electric fence you’ve put up - do something today to address it! Deactivate it, own up to it, apologize for it.
It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to your partner.
P.S. In just a few weeks, we’re about to launch a new 7-day challenge for The 1% Club. If you want to experience a massive shift in your relationship in just one week, sign up for the Legendary Love Challenge for free. If you finish it, you’ll get a chance to apply to The 1% Club so you can participate in the next challenge!
Here’s what Allison said about the challenge just last week:
"I've loved this week and feel empowered to take my marriage from mediocre to epic. I've learned that the difference lies in me! I think I've always known that and known that I can't change my spouse but because I have this need to control I expect him to change because I am. If I am, you should cycle. I am left feeling discouraged and let down. This course has broken barriers for me in that I now feel like I can change myself and it's ok. I'm not giving something up or sacrificing. I am growing! I am out of my comfort zone and changing and I am seeing my spouse with new eyes and have significant new respect and love for him."