One of the most challenging problems for most couples is what to do about issues that have been part of the relationship for many years. These can be small irritating behaviors like leaving the cap off the toothpaste, forgetting to take out the garbage, coming home late for dinner or annoying eating habits. These can also be potential deal breakers such as whether to have children, major sexual differences, or addictions.
Today, i will address the former. So what does your partner do that annoys you and no matter how many times you have addressed it there is no change or any shift in behavior is short-lived? These are often deeply ingrained habits or ways of viewing the world that do not easily yield to reasonable requests or angy outbursts.
Here is my approach to this difficult challenge:
1) Since it is impossible to change another person, start by altering your own behavior and attitudes.
A) Calm yourself down-Is this issue as important to your overall happiness and well being as you are making it?
B) Give your partner the benefit of the doubt-perhaps the behavior in question is really difficult to change even though it appears to be a no-brainer to you.
C) Try a more positive approach in your requests. Ask with an open heart.
D) Do not give up when change does not occur immediately or there are relapses.
E) Look for ways to create new structures(set the clock ahead for lateness) or rituals(share a cup of coffee or tea after the garbage is taken out) which will encourage shifts in behavior.
F) Always reinforce any movement in the direction you are seeking with sincere expressions of warmth and love.
G) Thank your partner for the effort even though you believe that what you are asking is very simple and should require a minimum of energy.
H) Do not make it about whether your partner loves you.
I) Maintain your sense of humor.
J) Do not demean your partner's attempt to change even if it is not exactly what you requested.
Next Week-Deal Breakers