How do you go about getting what you want and need from a relationship?
By stating what you need, not what you think the other person must change or do.
When you are clear about what you need, this keeps the other person from feeling attacked. And giving consideration to the timing of a discussion can create the best possibility for a win-win negotiation. (Do you want to discuss finances while you’re hangry?)
I am talking mostly about the serious stuff here, not the everyday rough spots. But make no mistake, stating what you need even in the smallest of instances can keep you from having big blow ups. “Honey, I need you to keep the kitchen counter clear while I am making our dinner” vs either passive-aggressively stewing over the new mess, or sharply rebuking your partner: “You always dump your dishes right in the middle of my cooking area!”
If you have an ultimatum to present, then offer it in gentle clear terms without requiring an immediate response. (Please understand that I am not referring to imminent danger situations, particularly with children.) And you best be ready to stand by your needs if they are serious, for if you are not, that will be a sure path to long term dissatisfaction, likely for you both.
The Ask Amy column had a beautiful example of this last week from a woman who wished to marry her longtime boyfriend. She told him she would like to be engaged within a year and then just dropped the subject. No comparisons to others, no demanding, just a gentle statement of her need, which of course carried the implication that she would likely move on if he did not ask her to marry him. And this worked for them both, as they reported being happily married for 28 years.
Think of any time you heard a demand, or a “you never” or “you always”, and picture your gut response.
Pick your time carefully for the best response. Do nothing in haste. Ditch the harsh start ups. Ultimatums gently stated or presented in a way that don’t feel like ultimatums produce better results, allowing the person to choose whether or not to comply with your request.
You are more likely to get what you want in a relationship by stating what you need, not what you think the other person must change or do.