One of my recent podcasts, Get Visible in Your Relationship, talked about what to do when what you want and need is different from what your partner needs and wants.
Being visible is my way of describing how you can communicate with your partner about something you anticipate, correctly or incorrectly, won’t go over well. It is a way of bringing up these sensitive topics in a way that feels safe for you to say, safe for your partner to hear, safe for your relationship, and then finally feels safe for you to stand inside the outcome.
I encourage you to listen to the podcast if you haven’t already. Being visible is an important relationship skill to develop.
Today I want to talk about what happens when you make a need or want visible, and your partner says no. I cover this in great detail in today’s podcast. This short post is an excerpt, if you will, of what you can do in a situation where your partner has declined to meet your need or want.
So You Took the Scary Leap of Acknowledging What You Want is Different from Your Partner
Let’s say you share a difference that is really bothering you, and as a result your partner feels strongly in a different direction.
Ask your Self, what do I do when my partner does not agree with me, or does not want what I have explained I need?
- I take it personally
- I feel hurt and withdraw adding to a disconnection
- I strongly maybe even loudly defend what I want
- I defend to myself why it is a good idea
- I take no for the answer instead of indicating I need more conversation
Instead of selecting any of these options, first take time to calm down. Read this post to learn how you can bring calm back into your body when you need it.
Now it is time to stand with your partner to look at this difference. Because there is a difference you’ll need a framework to make this conversation constructive. This will keep you both focused on resolution and not blame. Here are some tips on problem solving that you can adapt to make your own framework.
Five Tips for Problem-Solving in a Relationship
- Take good care of your own mental health. Navigating differences in a relationship takes energy. Cultivate your own calm, compassion, curiosity, and courage for your Self, and you’ll have it in reserve to bring to your partner, as well.
- Stay focused on the problem; don’t get distracted. Disagreement is not conflict unless you make it that way. Be respectful and use socially acceptable skills. If you throw mud you’ll only obscure the problem, making it harder to see and resolve.
- Remain curious toward your partner and toward the difference. Think of yourself like a detective. Detectives gather all the information and ask lots of questions. Try to understand yourself and your partner, and how you both drew your conclusions. Remaining curious will keep your emotions to the side of you, not in charge of and leading you.
- Be clear and friendly in your communication. Try horizontal listening. Read up on the techniques of nonviolent communication. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and be curious. Remember having knowledge and options is empowering.
- Appreciate what you’re both doing right now. You are both showing up with each other – being visible – in an intimate way. You are expressing a difference and wanting to be with the other to solve it. Not just fighting to get your own way. You are finding new solutions together and refusing to stay stuck. Good for the both of you!
What if You Need a Little More Help?
If you and your partner are new to this and need some guidance getting this off the ground, you’re not alone! That’s why I offer IFS counseling sessions for couples. It couldn’t be easier to meet up with me since I’m offering sessions virtually. Click here to learn more about how counseling via video conference is a great way to get started better relating.
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“ber-antem” by Flickr user Dimak Fakhruddin is licensed under CC BY 2.0.