After years of working with couples, I am still amazed at how very hard we make it for our partners to give us what we want. When we protect our vulnerabilities with self-obsession, usually in the form of entitlement, resentment, anger, superiority, or self-righteousness, our perspectives become narrow, rigid, and devaluing of others. The motivation then is more to punish than to get the original desire met. We'll make demands on our partners without regard of their likely reaction and in total rejection of their perspectives and vulnerabilities. In other words, we'll make it as hard as possible for our partners to do what we would like them to do.
Here's an exercise to gauge the extent to which you make it hard for your partner to do what you want. First, list what you would like to see more of in your partner's behavior, e. g., show more compassion, listen better, be more helpful, have more interest in sex.
Write how you make it difficult for your partner to show you more of what you would like. Examples:
"I make it difficult for my partner to be more compassionate by my lack of sympathy for why he/she is not compassionate at the moment."
"I make it difficult for my partner to be more interested in sex by constantly complaining and ignoring his/her needs for intimacy."
"I make it difficult for my partner to listen by talking at him/her, instead of having a conversation (a give and take of information of mutual interest)."
"I make it difficult for my partner to be more helpful by criticizing what he/she does when trying to be helpful."
Now think of how you could make it easier to get what you want.
To make it easier for my partner to____________, I will____________________
Example: "To make my partner more compassionate, I will try hard to understand and sympathize with his/her perspective, even if I disagree with it."
"To make my partner listen better I will listen better to him/her."
"To get my partner help more, I will appreciate his/her effort."
This approach will not guarantee that your partner will cooperate with you, but it will greatly raise the likelihood. You can certainly reduce the resentment, anger, and emotional pollution in your home by recognizing your own blind spots and respecting your partner's vulnerabilities.
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