Make It Easy for Your Partner to Give You What You Want

On autopilot, we often make it hard for loved ones to give us what we want.

Posted Jul 26, 2020

When we protect vulnerabilities with self-obsession (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 desires or requests met. We're likely to make demands of our partners in total indifference, if not 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.

Couples seem to be asking for submission from their partners rather than the cooperation they really want. Submission creates resentment; cooperation fosters connection.

The following are bound to seem as though they require submission. Using them guarantees a success rate close to zero.

  • Entitlement (my right to have you do this is superior to your right not to do it)
  • Demands
  • Resentment
  • Anger
  • Sarcasm
  • Arrogance
  • Pettiness
  • Martyrdom
  • Psychoanalysis” (you’re like this because your mother looked at you crooked when you were a child)
  • Patronizing use of “communication skills”
  • “Diagnosis” (if you didn’t have a personality disorder, you’d do what I want).

Any of the above will elicit a defensive response and make it hard for your partner to do what you want.  


List what you would like to see more of in your partner's behavior. (Example: show more compassion, listen better, be more helpful, have more interest in sex.)

Describe how you make it difficult for your partner to give 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 longing for other forms of intimacy."
  • "I make it difficult for my partner to listen by talking at him/her, instead of having a conversation (interested in each other’s perspectives)."
  • "I make it difficult for my partner to be more helpful by criticizing what he/she does to help.”

Make It Easier to Get What You Want

To make it easier for my partner to ____________, I will ____________________.


  • "To make it easier for my partner to be more compassionate, I will try hard to understand and sympathize with his/her perspective, even if I disagree with it."
  • "To make it easier for my partner to listen better, I will be a better listener for my partner."
  • "To get my partner to help more, I will appreciate the help I get."

This approach will not guarantee cooperation, but it will raise the likelihood from zero to around 70%. You can certainly reduce the resentment, anger, and emotional pollution in your home by recognizing your own blind spots – things you inadvertently do to make it difficult for your partner to give you what you want.

Underlying all of this is the principle of emotion reciprocity, which holds that we’re likely to get back the emotions we put out, allowing for the brain’s natural bias to negative emotions.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Is it compassionate to accuse your partner of not being compassionate?
  • Is it affectionate to devalue your partner for not being affectionate?
  • Will my partner care about my perspective if I don’t care about my partner’s experience?

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