Grandma used to say that you can catch more flies with honey. She was talking about being nice and polite with people. It’s a good quality to have and especially good in a marriage. A quirky thing happens in a relationship. As we become closer together we also begin to feel let down in certain areas. The classic argument is between a man and woman regarding the toilet seat. She wants it down and he really doesn’t notice or care so he generally leaves it up and doesn’t want to take the energy to remember to put it down.
When we are feeling that our partner doesn’t understand or care about a situation we feel that they don’t car about us. When we don’t understand them we can begin to focus on what is wrong. When we are given commands we tend to resist being treated like a child. The toilet seat argument can quickly become a struggle over who is going to give in and possibly turn into a serious issue about respect. The toilet seat can be anything … who takes the kids to school, who makes dinner and who cleans up, whether or not there is good communication about decisions that affect both people. Take some time and think about how you are presenting your desires and frustrations. Are you tending to offer a list of what is wrong and what you don’t like or want? Do your requests come off as an order?
Inside each of us there is this feeling that our partner should know what we want (we have told them over and over again how much we hate it when they don’t live up to our expectations). It is easy to have the feeling that you will never be able to do enough, and the motives of the other are selfish.
It is amazing, but true, that it is easier to talk about what you aren’t getting than it is to ask for what you want. Try changing your description of family responsibilities from “I don’t like it when”, “I hate that you do this”, or “you don’t help me with and you know I don’t like that”. The descriptions about what you don’t want can result in your spouse digging in their feet and lead towards an unwanted argument.
By engaging your partner with a new message you can change the way you both feel about success and failure. Try some new approaches like “I know you have been under a lot of stress, or “I know it gets hard to get things done but I love you and we will get through this.” Imagine your words to be like a water faucet. When you complain, avoid, argue and are never happy with each other, you are turning off the water. The flow just stops or slows down to a trickle. When you offer praise, support and realistic ideas for success “I think you would be really good at …”, ” I would feel so happy if you would”, or “it would help me if”, the faucet starts to open and the water begins to flow freely.
It’s not just what you say but how you say it. Don’t put each other into a no-win situation. Push through, put yourself out there and take a chance.