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Save Your Marriage by Losing Some Emotional Weight

Today I will continue with my recipe for a happy marriage from part 2 in this series. Or you can click the link here to begin at – How to have a happy marriage – Part 1

Today we are continuing discussing the second ingredient in my recipe for a happy marriage, which was …

State what it is you want clearly and without too much emotion

After reading part 2 – I hope you have come up with an inspiring vision. So what’s next?

Avoid emotional manipulation

One of the biggest mistakes people make when asking for what they want is believing they need to put weight behind their request.

This may come across as threats or ultimatums such as “If you don’t ——- I am going to leave you.” Or even more extreme, “If you don’t —— I will kill you/myself.”

While these kind of threats may work short term, they will obviously breed a lot of resentment and won’t leave your partner feeling good about giving you what you want. Threats and ultimatums will always come back to haunt you in the end.

More gentle types of emotional manipulation (minus the ultimatums and threats), still add unattractive weight to a request.

This might sound something like, “I will be so lonely if you don’t come back soon”, or “Don’t you care how you are making me feel?”

More subtle? Certainly, but this kind of ‘weight’ can still act as a sledge hammer to the finer feelings between you and the person you love.

Moaning and groaning or using a grumpy or intimidating tone of voice will likewise add unnecessary and unflattering weight to your request, making it far less likely you will get what you want in the end …

People have enough trouble figuring out what they want – and how this will make them feel – let alone planning their time around making you happy.

People notice when a request is weighted with emotional manipulation and this will be likely to breed resentment rather than love.

Make it a statement not a request

Asking people to do things for us is necessary sometimes, but let’s face it, if you ask too often – it’s likely to become a drag. To strengthen your position, it is better if you can take a leadership role by stating what you want instead.

Making statements puts you in a much stronger position where you hold on to your power — while still leaving room for the other person to share their true feelings — without leaving your happiness in someone else’s hands.

“If you get that work you have been putting off out of the way, I would like it if tonight we could relax and have a bit of fun.”

“Let’s spend a few moments talking – I would like to get in sync with you before I make dinner and I start on my other chores for the night.”

Or the example from Part 1 in this series …

“Come now and put those books away for good – this is a new life we are beginning now. There’s a man arriving soon who’s going to help you find work to provide for us.”

This last phrase is a good example – because it is said without emotion manipulation and also contains a vision which has considered her husband’s challenges and self esteem. It is not a request she is waiting on him to give her an answer on – but something she has shown leadership in organising to make happen.

Because ultimately we must be working to give ourselves what we want, before we can expect anyone else to want to take part.

Okay so now let’s get back to why this is so challenging to do …

Why kids naturally whine and complain – or use an aggressive tone of voice to ask for what they want

As much as we may feel that adding weight to our requests gives us more power – it actually works the other way round. This is because adding weight to a request is really a sign the person asking is immature or feels weak.

Stating our wishes clearly requires us to stand our ground honestly (exposing vulnerability in the process) requiring maturity, courage and self respect. Because no matter how well we go about trying to make it happen, sometimes we will not get our way.

Being ready to state what we want openly and without any kind of coercion takes the courage to stand in front of our partner with an unguarded heart.

This is tough, but if we are ready to state what we want clearly (and stand up for our vision) – while still being ready to graciously accept that our partner may choose not to be involved – we are in a much better position to allow love and respect to begin growing in our life.

These examples below might better demonstrate the courage that I am talking about here …

“I want to work on improving our marriage and I really hope you will decide that you want that too.”

“I don’t like it when you talk to me that way and I want you to stop and really think about what you are saying before you speak to me again.”

Because when we state what we want clearly (while also being ready to graciously take no for an answer) without becoming emotional or otherwise trying to add weight to our request, something important shifts. Letting that pressure off avoids inviting resistance to our ideas. Then even if our partner disagrees at first, if we still continue working towards our goals, it gives time later for them to still perhaps come to see things the way we do.

If I say to my son (as I sometimes do), “You are not going out until I see your bed made and all those clothes off your floor!” In an angry tone of voice, he will do it – but grudgingly – and he will then probably avoid me for most of the day. If instead I say “I would like to see your bed made and the clothes off your floor before you go out,” while still being friendly and asking whether he got a good night sleep etc. he may not do it, but later when he comes home and I say “I haven’t liked looking at that mess all day – I hope you are going to clean it up before you go out again.” He is much more likely to say something like, “Oh yeah sorry I forgot”, and then not only do it – but do it with his heart in the right place.

Now I know this may sound naive if you are living in a house where aggression and manipulation have become standard practice – but the change has to start somewhere and where will that be if it isn’t you?

Conversely, if you are wanting someone who is abusing you to stop crossing your boundaries this is a different matter altogether. In that case you not only need to state what you want to see happen – but you also need real consequences (that will follow) if the abuse does not end. Still, adding emotional weight or threats to your request won’t work in this situation either. In this case instead we have a rule which is one warning and then action. You can read more about this in Back From The Looking Glass and The Love Safety Net Workbook. We never suggest setting boundaries with words or requests.

Save Marriage? Avoid Divorce?

Clear requests offered without weight are the corner stone of emotional health.

So what is your vision for your marriage in the future? What do you believe will make you both happy long term? The marriage help we offer is not based on gimmicks or emotional manipulation. Instead we offer habits and skills for you to learn and adopt that have been proven by years of research to build deep and lasting relationships based on rapport and respect.

Learning to state what you want clearly is also the foundation work in healing a person’s codependence.

If you regularly feel neglected, lonely and desperate for affection, without knowing how to attract love and respect into your life, my short ebook, 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence will help you learn better habits that will help heal your marriage and your life.

Part 4 – Healing the Heartless Giant

 

Kim Cooper

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. love your advice Kim – this is what I need – those are clearly next steps when things already improved – work on the fine lines of our requests. 🙂

  2. I am really enjoying this series! You just don’t know how helpful your site has been to my relationship. We have been together 14 years, oh how I wish I had found your site years ago! We both have 2 children each from prior marriages and they had to endure his narcissism and my codependence issues. Reading all your articles has changed our relationship for the better in fact we are getting married this November. You were right about so many things, his tendencies reveals itself when he drinks and we were trapped in a never-ending cycle. His abuse was emotional and verbal. He did become physical once, 8 years into the relationship three full slaps across the face puncturing my eardrum and breaking my nose. I stayed, I didn’t report it. I just felt so trapped where was I going to go we were living paycheck to paycheck and I had two children to support. I thought I was doing the right thing because he had just started a new job and couldn’t afford to lose it. Boy I have learned here that I was way off base I should have reported it and protected myself. We continued in our cycle nothing else physical and we even separated for about a year three years ago. We got back together only things were a little different because he new from the separation that I could stand on my own. I could manage my finances, my own apartment and car payment. Things started off good and then it started again now because “I didn’t need him or you think you can take on the world” it had gotten to the point that I would move out of our bedroom for weeks at a time. One day I was talking someone and they mentioned narcissism so I got online and started reading then found this site. BLESSING! The hardest thing to do is not argue but its made a huge difference and he did grab me by the hair once and I did not hesitate to call the police. He was shocked but he knows I’ll do it. Of course he didn’t apologize in fact didn’t mention the incident for a few weeks after something like “yeah, you called the police for grabbing your hair” so I turned to him looked him and said “you are not allowed to assault me.”

    Now everything is much better we have a healthy relationship and he has become even more loving then I thought possible. It is a lot of work but the rewards have been magnificent. Little by little he has been opening up and trying to share things that I did not know and he expresses his feelings easier and more often then before. I’m so happy I did not give up! I cannot thank you enough Kim!

  3. Another great article in this series and wish I had this advice when my boys were young. Look forward to more of your inspiration and wisdom being shared here. Thank you for the hard work you put into creating these amazing posts!

  4. Dear Kim,
    After I give my self a few minutes away from other tasks, and read your blog, I am always so happy that I did! Your advise always gets me back on track – focusing my energy in a positive direction.

    Thank you – thank you – thank you!!!

  5. I was so surprised when someone pointed out to me that when I appealed with emotion in my voice to my partner it was probably being received as aggressive communication. This person helped me understand that even though my intention and attitude wasn’t aggressive that it would be received as such by my partner who who already felt afraid and defensive. It was a great lesson!

    Armed with alternative super-duper-calm ways to communicate I set out to rectify that aspect of our relationship. It has truly helped me regardless of the outcome of each situation. I feel stronger and braver. I feel more in control of myself. I feel happy many times because I am not giving my power away.

    I haven’t seen incredible changes in my partner’s responses, however, but there has been slight improvement overall. I realise this is a multi-faceted complicated situation that needs effort on many levels. I do find it frustrating that my boundaries still get crossed but I have found through your articles and encouragement and other helpful relationship advice the tools which are helping me to improve my contribution to our relationship.

    I have developed my own unique strategy for accountability that is not as scary as telling the police because for me that would literally tear our lives to shreds. I have considered that long and hard and discussed our situation with a couple of professionals who have advised against this course of action.

    My acquiring support from my community has so far involved authority figures of a different kind that my husband respects–our counsellor, our business board, selected family members, a neighbour. If I find myself in a situation where I do need to take consequences to them or further than them I have their support and so I feel secure and safe. And I might add, edified and affirmed, as they all responded favourably. I have represented myself strongly and submitted my courses of action to them with the big decisions. And I occasionally report to them a quick non-needy update. I am very happy so far with how this is working out.

    In addition, he had a truly natural consequence recently of facing up to his own public failure where he let a colleague and community group down. The colleague treated him kindly but has been keeping him accountable. Baby steps in vulnerability and honesty. This is good.

    Thank you for these articles!

  6. I will add that I am not in physical danger. And that I have informed health professionals so that there is something on file should it be needed in the future. And I have been checked out psychologically and cleared as fine but with strict instructions to take good care of myself. And that I have made myself acquainted with local police and my legal options should things not improve or digress. I know who to call. I know where to go. I know how to harness the help I need should I need it.

    Thank you for your excellent advice. What I really like about your approach is your compassion for the troubled individual causing the hoo-ha as well as your solid sensible advice for taking responsibility for our own emotional growth when we are on the receiving end. As well as a safe place to think through the issues at hand.

  7. Kim,

    I think you give a lot of good advice and seem very knowledgeable. I personally have learned a lot from the information you have put out there. I am currently struggling with my significant other. It seems when I express how I feel he likes to start a fight and kick me out of the house. We are apart right now and have been for a week. (no we are not married) I have talked to him and firmly told him that he will never kick me out again. He didn’t say anything to that. He isn’t asking me over and we are not doing anything together? I have given him space and I have told him exactly how I feel, respectfully and straightforward. He says I’m not happy. I’m happy with me and my family. The stressful part of my life is learning new skills to make this work with him (I’m 50). Yes, at times I am emotional, but I think I have come a long way in the past few years. Not only do I have his personality to deal with but also a controlling ex. She has three exes and a total of four children. She is with a new boyfriend of one plus years, but isn’t happy with anything she has in life either. So she likes to control Jeff, flirt and text. I have let a lot of that go too. It gets overwhelming at times. I am currently working in your workbook, which has a lot of good advice and teachings. I have asked him where we go from here and he doesn’t know. He seems like he doesn’t want to make this work, which is fine, I would like him to tell me that then, not play games. So, what can we do to move forward. Do you have any advice to get this back on track or should I take it as he wants to move on? PS: is there anyway to get a straight answer from him? Thank you…..

    1. Hi Dee – As hard as it is right now you really need to use magic scissors and get on with your own life and goals and try and get back in touch with your own happiness. As it is you are leaving all of the power over your future relationship in his hands and up to him to make a decision. As it stands right now it doesn’t sound like you have enough trust built between you for that to happen. So I suggest you take some time out for yourself and start loving yourself the way you would like him to love you! When things calm down in a few days it will be easier to make decisions on what comes next.

  8. Hi Kim,

    Thanks for this, it makes a lot of sense. Previously I haven’t been able to relate to many of your articles, as it turned out that the person I was in a relationship with was a sociopath, not just a narcissist. And that’s a whole different ball game to the scenarios you have been writing for, because sociopaths don’t care about love and acceptance and only see others as playthings. They couldn’t really care if you exist or not, let alone what you feel or think you deserve or need. So until now I haven’t really found your articles helpful, but this one really applies to all relationships.

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