What does it mean to surrender in your relationship—and why bother anyway?
It might help to start by talking about what surrendering isn’t. After all, individualism, entrepreneurship, and equality are so strongly celebrated in our culture, so the idea of “surrendering” to your partner can conjure up a lot of negative connotations—becoming a doormat, being weak, being taken advantage of, not standing up for yourself, or victimizing yourself.
But true surrender is not about weakness. Quite the contrary, to surrender well requires self-respect, emotional intelligence, and inner strength. It should be a goal in every relationship because you can only truly surrender to your partner in a relationship when you both trust one another implicitly. Surrendering means keeping your heart open and practicing letting go. Surrendering is a feeling, a philosophical approach to marriage.
Examples of Partners Surrendering in Relationships
Because of this, it can be hard to put into words. But it might look like this:
- Agreeing to delegate roles and responsibilities in your marriage and household, then allowing each of you to assume full responsibility for those roles without unsolicited advice from the other partner (e.g., does it really matter that your partner doesn’t load the dishwasher the way you would? If your partner pays the bills on time, even if they wait until the last minute, is it really true that they “should” do the bills earlier, just because that’s the way you would do it? Can you see how it’s okay for your partner to have a different parenting style than you, so long as the end result is that your kids are safe, loved, and learning your shared values?)
- Releasing the urge to nag or change your partner
- Seeking out and considering their input
- Listening fully to your partner during a conversation, instead of just crafting your next response or counterpoint
- Honoring your partner’s needs and preferences
Why Surrendering to Your Partner Helps Build Trust
When couples surrenders intentionally and patiently, they build unwavering trust. It helps fortify the bond you share with your partner. To surrender to your partner can transform your marriage into a safe space where you can express your desires freely while still maintaining a sense of peace and acceptance towards your beloved (and even yourself). To surrender means to accept situations as they arise—and accept your partner for who they are—and then take intelligent action from this more centered state.
As a result of your commitment to surrendering in your marriage, you can experience:
- More energy, since you aren’t wasting it on trying to control your partner
- More clarity, since you start to bring more awareness to interactions with your spouse
- More fun and joy, since you start to shift your default perspective from criticism to gratitude
- Less unnecessary conflict
3 Steps to Surrender in Your Marriage
When you start to bring the spirit of surrender into your marriage, you can expect to notice subtle yet meaningful changes in your relationship. Here are three ways to put surrendering into practice:
1. Ensure your relationship is safe for your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
This comes first for a reason. While practicing surrender can transform even some of the most strained relationships, it’s not advisable in situations when extreme or more harmful behaviors are predominant. This includes relationships in which one or both partners:
- Has an active addiction
- Is habitually unfaithful
- Is physically or financially abusive
If any of these situations currently apply to your relationship, press pause on your surrendering journey and seek help to address these more pressing issues—from a marriage counselor, a local Al-Anon group, legal counsel, and/or a trusted loved one.
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2. Start to notice the space between stimulus and response.
Things in life are rarely black and white—especially when it comes to marriage. And in many cases, our internal, knee-jerk need to be “right” is nothing more than our egos’ effort for self-preservation.
The challenge is, the part of you that wants to be right usually crowds out the space between a stimulus (e.g., something your partner says or does) and response (e.g., whatever you say or do in response to your partner’s words or actions). If you leave that space open—by taking a deep breath, bringing your attention to your hands or heart, allowing the silence to just be for a moment—you may start naturally responding in ways that are more loving and accepting.
3. Be clear about what you want, and be willing to be flexible about how you’ll receive it.
As intimately connected with your partner as you are, you are still quite different individuals. But so long as your values and goals are compatible, this isn’t a barrier to having a close and long-lasting marriage—nor is it a barrier to having each of your needs met.
Be honest about what you want, and then see if you can relax and notice how your partner sets out to fulfill that for you, even if it’s not exactly how you imagined or on your ideal timeline. As spouses, we’re not mind-readers—we’re good, perfectly imperfect humans doing our best. Give each other grace. And remember the secret sauce: to get what you want, you must give what you want. Offer kind words, thoughtful actions, and loving attention to your spouse as much as you can—then offer more. Trust that your spouse will respond in kind.
Ready for a Loving Shift in Your Relationship?