Create the Relationship You Want
By Betsey McGuire
In your love relationship, what is it exactly that you envision for yourself? Not the physical 'looks' of your mate, but what is the interaction you wish for, the treatment you desire, the way to negotiate the outcome of disagreements, the quiet times, the way you want to 'be' with him?
To create this relationship you want, without giving up an ounce of being yourself, see your goal and work backwards from there in order to achieve the desired results. If you are in an argument, say a very big one, see if you can take a minute to mentally go inside yourself. Check to see if you can answer the question, "What do I actually want here?" You have to be simple and unemotional in your real answer to yourself. Unhelpful answers like, "I want to win!" or "I want to squash him under my heel like a bug," or "I don't know why he won't be nice to me?" do not work and they do not count. Those are statements that don't produce results and they are self-indulgent.
The kind of internal thought process I'm talking about here might go something like this: "What do I really want here?" Answer, "I want peace," or "I want to stop talking about this," or "I just want us to be happy together."
Perhaps you're still answering the "what do I want" question with answers like, "I want him to stay home with me and order pizza and watch movies, instead of going out to fulfill his agenda!" Just imagine the whine already inserted in that sentence cuz I can hear it as I type it. This is a situation in which the end result involves only you and how you feel, not a compromise on the part of your partner (although sometimes that's a happy side effect).
So, say you "just want peace." Now ask yourself, "Am I ready to just have peace and to let go of my own agenda here?" To take the ego out of it, the 'win.' If the answer is yes, then ask, "What's the quickest way to get to that?" And do it. If it means simply going to bed or removing yourself from the company of the other person, just say in a neutral tone that that is what you want, "Y'know, I am all worked up about this right now and it doesn't need to be all tense like this. I love you, but I need a break. I just want peace! I'm gonna (go to bed) (take a walk) (go to Jen's) for a little while. You go ahead and ________ and it's just fine. I'm not mad, I just want to get over it and move on." Keep it short, sweet (must be said as nicely as possible while still being authentic), and then act.
If you can do this honestly with yourself, you will feel:
- Better about yourself (I am not controlling, I can let go, I can compromise, I can give to others without making them feel crummy about receiving)
- More in control. Weird, but giving up control of your own volition creates a surge of personal power. It's not giving up control if you choose to do it happily.
- Wiser, smarter, nicer, happier, more loving, and more lovable.
Hold up your hands, palm against palm, and push them against each other. Now stop pushing with one hand. The other hand falls down. Imagine you and your partner are the palms and you are the one that stops pushing. The argument just collapses. Of course, there will be plenty of times when you're completely justified in your anger and you just can't (or don't want to) reel yourself in. No one can just be Zen-like all the time. I'm just saying that if you can create a moment of mental clarity in the midst of a fog of frustration or anger, you can step away from the whole thing and just kind of say, either to yourself, or to him too, "Y'know, I am stepping away from this. I feel all nasty and ugly and tense, and I don't want to feel that way, I don't want to be that way." If you do it FOR YOU, in order for you to feel good, it works.
If you envision for yourself a loving, considerate, relationship between equals, then ask yourself how to get that with this one you love? If YOU act in that manner, that's halfway to your goal, now it's up to him to provide the other portion the formula. If you push and bulldoze your way through to get what YOU want, that doesn't leave much room for the other person to be loving, considerate, and kind. It creates a "Well, what about me and what I want?" feeling - a feeling of, "I'd better grab what I want right now because otherwise he'll take it and there won't be any left for me!"
I'm thinking more of jockeying for time for special interests right now (I want to take a long bike ride, so I'm gonna say so right now before he can mention the tee time I know he wants to make, then I will win). So, you mention the ride you want to take, he counters with the tee time he's been looking forward to. You can say something along the lines of, "Well, maybe you can go when I get back," knowing that the later in the day he goes out, the worse his chances will be to accomplish his goal. OR you could think, "Hmmmm, maybe I can stay here, bite the bullet, and take the kids on errands for a few hours, then by the time he gets back, I will really appreciate that time on the bike... and I can miss the whiny afternoon time!" and say, "Can I go out when you get back?" Of course, he'll be feeling so pleased that there's not a power struggle that will ruin both of your times spent on your special thing, that he should step right up and say, "Sure, of course," and pay you back for being so big about it by returning right on time.
Sometimes, most of the time, if you can be the giving one first, you will get what you ultimately need and get it with a smile from the one who's giving it. Next time around, when you mention your need to get out, he should remember how giving you were about that tee time, how you put off your agenda simply because you could and perhaps he'll be eager to give you back some of the generosity you gave him.
Many times when I've used the bulldoze method to get what I want when I want it and how I want it, the method I've used to get my way has sucked all the enjoyment right out of the activity OR I spend a lot of the time watching the clock because I feel guilty about "winning." Loosen up, let go, be someone you'd like to hang around or be in love with. Be lovable. Do something nice for no reason. Make something nice happen instead of waiting for something nice to happen. Make something nice happen for someone else. Nice is nicer when it's done for others. It just feels better for YOU, and that's what we mostly want, to just feel good, to feel loved, to feel accepted, to feel like we belong. So go ahead and give of yourself and your heart and give someone what they want, you'll reap the benefits right along side of the recipient.
Betsy is 43 years old, working on her masters in mental health counseling.