Stop Expecting Them to “Get” It: Why Some Partnerships Fail

by Amy on February 9, 2017


“What’s on the agenda this weekend?” My husband asks.

I open up my planner. “Battle of the books in the early afternoon Saturday, then Jazmina’s Quinciniera in the eve. Then Sunday is Janina’s birthday party at the pool.”

“I’m not going to that,” He says.

“But…” I answer.

“I work all week and I don’t get a second of downtime!” He continues. “I’m not going!
“I don’t work?! Who do you think makes you dinner and does your laundry? Who organizes all this stuff, battle of the books, birthday parties?” I reply.

“Who pays the bills around here!” He retorts. “And how much tennis did you play yesterday?!”

And on and on we go… We have been fighting like this for years.

Doing the same thing over and over again…

Say it with me:

AND EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS.

Each of us expecting the other one will “get” what it is we really need.

I’m never going to say, “Babe, of course, skip the silly swim party! I would LOVE to take our three kids to the swimming pool party without you on Sunday.”

He’s never going to say, “hell yes, I’d love to take you all swimming with a pool full of little kids on my Sunday afternoon after a long work week.”

So we both go round and round in a futile attempt to get the other to bend by throwing our weight around:

It never works.

After years and years of this pattern, we had a breakthrough the other day.

“Let’s not do that anymore,” he said.

“Yeah, it never works.” I agree.

“We’ve been doing it for years.” He hugs me.

“I have a better idea,” I say as I hug him back.

“What?” He asks.

“Let’s just tell each other what we need.” I offer. “Like, if you need a break over the weekend just say so. I’m not going to act like I don’t want you to come with me but I’m going to respect that it’s something you need.” I say.

“Yeah, I respect you for all you do and I know you respect me too.” He says. “It doesn’t feel good to argue like that.”

Duh.

After twenty something years, we are FINALLY getting it.

We have a great partnership, me and Ron. But it’s not perfect. The problem we run up against is expecting the other to automatically understand what it is we need and give it to us.

When inevitably one of us fails to “get” what it is the other needs, we get mad and throwi out passive aggressive jabs about all the things we do that the other one *should* see and appreciate.

Can you relate?

How are you expecting other people to automatically know what you need? How are you punishing them for NOT behaving according to your script?

Bottom line:

Stop expecting people to know. Stop punishing them when they don’t. And START asking for what you need.

That is what we are learning. Better late than never, right? And, let me tell you something, it already feels a whole lot better.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsay Gomez February 10, 2017 at 1:41 am

Oh Amy, I love this post! YES, YES, YES!!! And you want to know why; because I learned this very lesson from you while we were working one-on-one.

I was having these very arguments with many people in my life at the time. And so, while in a situation with my husband that was heading towards our patented argument-territory, I said exactly what I was needing at the time. It was oddly, super uncomfortable, but I blurted out what I was thinking and asked for whatever it was I needed at the time, instead of assuming my mind could be read and then getting mad and blaming the other person about it. I recall I even felt like I should hide under a blanket as I said it. And his response was totally opposite of what I was anticipating. Instead he simply said, ‘yes! thank you for telling me.’

It’s not a perfect practice for us either, but by having open, honest communication, our relationship is much improved and more solid than it’s ever been in the 19 years we’ve known each other.

Reply

Amy February 10, 2017 at 4:31 am

Yes! You are so wise Lindsay. Lots more for me to learn in this department. So glad I have a great partner along the path.

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Jennifer February 10, 2017 at 1:50 am

I CAN relate!

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Amy February 10, 2017 at 4:27 am

🙂

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Sam February 10, 2017 at 3:20 am

This was a lesson I learned from my 19 year relationship with my ex-wife. Afterwards I decided that it was really important to make sure that I was always open and forward about my feelings and what I wanted in my relationships.

However, in my relationships since then, asserting my needs seems to always result in pushing us apart rather than bringing us together, they always seem to go down as an X in the “not-compatible” column. And no, I am not pushy or demanding about them, I always try to be gentle, accommodating and understanding while I am making my feelings and needs clear, but still most of the time it ends up being a disappointment to my partner. (Some examples: I want to invest in my music career instead of taking expensive holidays. I am not a pet person and definitely can’t stand pets inside the house.)

I’ve finally arrived at the point where I feel that my needs and having a partner are basically mutually exclusive. If there is some unicorn girl out there who would put all those things as ticks in the other column I sure as hell don’t know how to find her.

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Amy February 10, 2017 at 4:27 am

I hear you Sam. I’m no relationship expert by any stretch. My guess is some of it comes down to the question: What am I willing to compromise? What are my non-negotiables? If someone isn’t willing to be with you because you have non-negotiables, sounds like it might not be a fit. I still believe there is a unicorn girl out there for you though as long as you’re willing to give in from time to time. Thanks for your comment!

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Ladyannmarie February 17, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Awesome! I’m at the telling what I need. I’m just not getting it lol I’m ready to throw in the towel. It’s crazy how people who refuse to do the “work”, lose their minds when you quit!

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