Are there things your partner does that cause you to say "That REALLY bugs me!"? And, when you say it, are you thinking s/he should now change that behavior?
Oops! That's not a reasonable expectation. I know you might think it is and you might even pull out that old, awful, in-my-opinion-never-to-be-heard-again phrase:
"If you REALLY loved me, you'd do what I want!"
What rubbish! Your partner could just as easily come right back to you with:
"And, if you REALLY loved me, you'd tolerate my behavior without comment!"
So, how does it really work if you want your relationship to grow, thrive and have greater emotional intimacy?
IMPORTANT: When someone's behavior bugs you, that's about you. Not about them!
Here's the scoop: First, you have to do your own work.
- Why are you bothered by this?
- Is it abusive, or just abrasive?
- Is it destructive, or just annoying?
- Is this a left-over from some other relationship?
- Are you being controlling, or just making a request?
- Are you commenting because you're in a less-than-inspiring mood?
- Are you preparing to comment or make your request in a respectful way, or are you just going to blurt it out and take what happens?
All these things you need to work through in your own mind before you open your mouth--if you want the best chance at having it move you two closer together.
Most people don't do their own work first. They just blurt...and then, make excuses for their poor delivery, often blaming the "victim". That simply drives a wedge into your relationship...and sometimes you just cannot get it out!
Often, when you do your own work, a surprising thing happens: you find you have nothing to say to your partner! That's the good news!
Now, you make a decision. If this is important enough to talk to your partner about, it is important enough to prepare for. Here are some suggestions:
- Ask if it is a good time to talk about something sensitive.
- Talk only about your own thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. Do NOT say the word "you" when you do! VERY IMPORTANT! You are simply sharing what's going on with you, not your assumptions, guesses, or pronouncements on what they are doing or why they do it!
- Allow your partner to ask you about those thoughts, feelings, needs and wants, so that s/he can learn more about you.
- In the point above, you will have expressed what you want--AGAIN, not what you want from him or her, just what you WANT.
- Ask if your partner will help you with this.
- Work out an agreement, or understand there is no agreement possible.
- Decide the next step.
You don't have a right to tell someone else how to behave, unless they are your child. That's what it means to be a grown-up: you let other people show you who they are by what they do. Then, you decide if that's all right with you, or not.
You decide if it works for you. If it does, heavenly. If it doesn't, do the steps above.
If there is no agreement or understanding, you now have a much better insight into the possibilities of the relationship.
- You may choose to agree on a new way to interact or behave that moves the relationship to greater intimacy.
- You may find that, on talking with your partner about it, it's not such a big deal and you let it go.
- You may choose to agree to disagree.
- You decide how much it matters to you. Accept it, embrace it, or move away from it.
When someone's behavior bugs you, that's about you. Not about them! Remember this!
You can work with me directly if that would help. I work with clients in-person at my office in Escondido, CA, and online through Skype or phone. If you need relationship help, or relationship advice, you can set up an appointment right online by visiting this link, creating a login and choosing your time. CLICK HERE. Or call The Optimize Center at 760.593.4604.