Save Your Marriage by Losing Some Emotional Weight
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