I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we feel guilty. We want to be liked. We’ve heard words like anal-retentive and nit-picking and we think we should just accept our partner for who they are, no holds barred, and accept this as a sign of compatibility, of whether or not we are compatible. We want to be the bigger person. We’ve forgotten how to ask for what we need and we’ve forgotten how to say no. We become so consumed with concepts like “letting go” and “non-attachment,” which are very zen-like ideas but they don’t address cooperation in a relationship. It is okay to expect our partner to meet us half way.
And, the way we communicate is key. Many of us have never been taught to say, No, or we don't feel comfortable saying no. We think this somehow makes us mean, rigid, or bad. We have yet to learn to verbalize our feelings in an honest and sincere manner. It is important to establish boundaries and limits, and to be okay with saying no. It is also important to recognize that our feelings, wants, needs and desires are okay. Somewhere along the way, someone taught us they weren't. We need to undo this and remember that our needs matter.
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And most of all, it is important to recognize the power we convey, and the respect we glean when speak clearly and positively. If we come from a place of not complaining, anger and accusation, but instead with genuine tenderness about our own feelings, ourselves and the things we need that would make us feel a little bit better, that would make our life a little easier, that would let us know that our partner cares and wants to meet us half way, we might be surprised at how much our partner might actually hear us and respond in jest. Be careful of punishing, blaming or trying to incite guilt, pointing the finger, and all around acting from a place of anger.
Basically, wait until you are not angry, upset or frustrated. Acting from a place of emotion is the worst and often ineffective. Once you are calm, this may even be a day later, you can talk to your partner about what happened. For example, “I got in the shower today and there were no clean towels. This was very disappointing for me. It felt like you were not thinking about me.” Own your feelings and express them calmly. “It would be great if we can come up with a plan so this doesn’t happen again.” You get the picture, don’t blame, own your feelings and address it with cooperative language. You and your partner are a team.
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