Yesterday Bryan called me on his way home from work. He was stuck in traffic and feeling irritable as a result. “Perturbed” was his exact word, actually.
Wanting to be helpful and encouraging but feeling powerless to do much to remedy his situation, I asked, “What can I do to cheer you up?”
Bryan said, almost in passing, “It’s not your job to make me happy.” And then he was on to another topic, but I missed some of the rest of the conversation because I was mentally transported back in time almost exactly a year ago to a very different conversation with my ex-fiance.
“I thought you would make me happy,” he told me, looking distraught and confused. “No matter what was going on at work or with my health or anything else in life, I thought that if I was with you, you’d make me happy. But you can’t. You can’t make me happy.”
I remember feeling hurt and rejected but also shocked and concerned that this 30-year-old man was just having the realization, a month into our engagement, that putting the responsibility of his happiness firmly on my shoulders was too much of a burden for anyone to bear.
I’m glad you thought so highly of me, but no one can stand up under that kind of expectation. Get me down off of that pedestal. And he did. Quickly. Weeks later. By asking for the ring back.
So thanks, Bryan. Thanks for being mature, insightful and grounded enough to realize: “It’s not your job to make me happy.”