It’s an evolutionary trait that we think getting what we want happens when we complain, cry, yell or throw adult-sized tantrums. It started when you were a baby; you had needs so you cried. Someone rushed to feed, change, snuggle or dote on you, hopefully. If you don’t get attention right away, you cried louder. Wailing babies inspire action. And the meeting of your needs made you feel loved and cared for.–Fast-forward. As an adult, you are still crying for what you want. Only you’re not screaming for someone to change your diaper, instead you are screaming for your partner to meet the needs you have in your relationship.
–Your subconscious mind still thinks that the way to get what you want is to scream about it.
–So you argue, you yell, you raise your voice, roll your eyes and demand what you know is fair and right for your partner to do for you.–And nothing changes.–So you yell louder, you fight meaner. Things get ugly and neither of you wants to be around each other. After all, its the same fight, new flavor. Or maybe it’s already drove a wedge between you and now this story reminds you of your ex.–Stop arguing. Next time, here’s what to do instead:–
Ask for what you want, explicitly.
Mind-reading is part of that childhood way of relating. It’s how we expect someone to meet our needs before we have words to express what we need. Yet so often, we think our partners should know us well enough to know what we want without having been asked or shared with at all. Newsflash: unless your partner is a psychic or a magician, they probably don’t know what you want, no matter how long you’ve been together. So instead of hinting at what you want, then getting really upset when it doesn’t happen, make it a point to clearly communicate what you need.
–Be okay with “no”. Ask questions to understand.
Just because you ask for what you want, doesn’t mean it’s automatically yours. Recognize that your partner has needs and expectations of their own, and a good reason for responding as they have. You both do. And releasing any expectation that you have to “win” the argument or get your way, releases the distress from the situation. To better understand your partner, ask them questions to understand their point of view.–
Suggest solutions rather than strike back.
What about when your partner nags or grouches at you? Isn’t it only fair for you to grouch back (after all, they started it) and engage in verbal combat? Actually, this elevates the problem, and usually nothing gets resolved. Fight or flight mechanisms in the brain kick in and one person either storms off or both end up with fuming tempers and hurt feelings. Instead, speak in a neutral tone and attempt to offer solutions that solve your partner’s frustration. The collaboration will calm their system and open up conversation for both of you to co-create the enjoyable solution to the original concern.