The Secret To Getting What You Want In Your Relationships

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If you and your partner could both get what you wanted and needed out of your relationship, what positive impacts would that bring?

What if I told you that you could get more of what you want in your relationship by altering one communication habit?

Before we begin, I’m going to stress that altering your bad habit isn’t going to be easy. It takes a major behavior change and enough discipline to follow through even during the toughest situations. But if you have the motivation to learn and master the technique, it will make your life and your relationship exponentially better.

First, we must ask the question, what is the basis for getting what we want?

If your partner was doing everything right and everything you desired, you’d be getting what you wanted, right?

When your partner does something you don’t particularly care for, the goal is to communicate and persuade them to change. This is where the old process is replaced by the new process and getting what you want in your relationship is achieved.

The old process looks like this:

Undesired action > Complaint > Partner’s Defense > Fight (or flight-by-withdrawal in passive aggressive partner)

But what if I told you that the process could like this:

Undesired action > [Secret] > Partner Changes

What a difference! Let’s talk about how to make it happen.

The Secret

Let’s look at the technique that never fails to poison the old process.

Undesired action > Complaint > Partner’s Defense > Fight (or flight).

It’s important to analyze how your communication is coming across and what avenues for change it is affording your partner.

How could your partner possibly change if you don’t give them an avenue to?

Complaint communicates the problem, but it doesn’t offer a solution. On top of that, it puts your partner on defense right off the bat. That’s why the next step in the old process is “Partner’s Defense.” Each time you start communication with a complaint, you can expect your partner to continue communication with a defense.

The secret to getting what you want is as simple as shifting from complaint, to request. Let’s take a look at our new process:

Undesired action > Request > [Healthy] Partner Changes (or compromises).

Is it really that simple? No. The process is, but execution is not.

Let’s take a look at what both processes look like in real life.

Old Process

Wife: “How could you pay those bills late? Now we’re going to have to pay late fees! This is the second time this has happened; you can’t keep screwing this up!”

Husband: “I was at work, then I was helping a friend, then I came home and started cleaning because that’s what you wanted me to do. I can’t do everything around here! What were you doing all day?”

Undesired action > Complaint > Partner’s Defense > Fight (or flight).

New Process

Wife: “Honey, it’s really important to me that the bills be paid on time. When you show me that you are responsible with our finances, I feel really great about our future. Are you willing to put paying the bills on time ahead of some of the other things on your schedule?”

The husband now has a choice and doesn’t have to defend himself about not paying the bills on time this month. Of course, he could always choose to get defensive, but the point is that you gave him a blatant opportunity to repair the problem. If he doesn’t take it, you probably have larger issues on your hands.

Why It Works

If you were training a dog to lay down, would you guide it into position and then reward it, or would you shout commands at it and then smack it across the face until it figured out what to do?

If you complain after the fact and don’t properly communicate your desires, you’re simply smacking your partner across the face wondering why he’s not performing the way you want him to. He never has an avenue to change. Instead, he is only guided into defending himself.

Shifting from complaint to request says “If you did more of this positive thing, I’d be a lot happier.” Whereas complaint says, “I would have been happy, but I’m not, because you’re an idiot.”

Whether you feel that or not, that’s what your partner hears. So which one do you think is going to promote change?

In other words, when you complain, what avenues does it give your partner? They can apologize, or they can get defensive. Owning failure goes against most people’s natural tendencies. In order to get what you want, it’s important to make it easy for your partner to own their failure (in private if possible). That’s the key.

How to Execute

Instead of focusing on the past and the negative action, focus on the present/future and positive solution. In short, don’t complain, request!

It’s going to be uncomfortable to ask for what you want at first. You have own the fact that you have wants and needs, you set yourself up for possible rejection, and you risk finding out that your partner may not care about your wants and needs as much as you previously thought.

At the same time, we need to live in reality. We can’t lie to ourselves and ignore what’s really going on.

One of the great paradoxes of intimacy is that in order to have a healthy, passionate relationship, you must be willing to risk it.

~ Terrence Real

Execution takes discipline and courage, but with practice it becomes instinct.

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Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life’s challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular “Ole Joe” who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.

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