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Do you feel torn between meeting your own needs and those of your spouse, family members, or friends? When there are conflicting desires in a relationship—especially a marriage, it can be difficult to know how to resolve that conflict without stirring up resentful feelings. This article offers relationship advice on how to get the love and respect you want and still be able to consider everyone’s needs.  

In order to experience the love and respect you want it’s important that you know how to balance everyone’s needs. So before going any further, it's essential that you become clear about what it is that you need and value most. It’s very difficult to come up with ways to experience what you want in your life without understanding what’s important to you.

There are many different understandings we teach that can support you in creating a better relationship.  We’d like to start by offering suggestions that you can apply immediately, and that almost always begins by looking inward.

As an example, let's explore a scenario that was brought up by a student of ours: She told us that her spouse likes to spend time with his friends, sometimes too much in her opinion, and this makes her feel unimportant, over looked, misunderstood, disconnected and usually very resentful.

In our courses we teach that we are left powerless when we believe someone else can make us feel certain ways: unimportant, overlooked, misunderstood.... Whenever we do this we actually hand all our control over to them, and then how else would we feel but resentful?  

We teach that it’s impossible for anyone else to make us feel any particular way. It is OUR thinking about the situation that causes our pain.  

We‘re guessing that when this woman's husband spends time with his friends she ends up thinking things such as, “He cares more about his friend than he does about me.” “If he really cared about me he would spend more time with me.”  Or any number of other such painful thoughts. Do any of these statements sound familiar? If so... you can start shifting from pain to power by understanding that it’s your thinking about the situation that’s causing you to feel bad and not your spouse's behavior.  

The first step is being able to disconnect from the idea that your spouse is causing your pain. Then you can figure out what you “do want” in a given situation and start working towards creating satisfying outcomes. When you‘re able to do this you can begin looking at these situations as an opportunity to explore ways to meet everyone’s needs.

Going back to our student's example, she said: “My husband likes to spend time with the boys, sometimes too much.” You can see how “too much” time with the boys doesn’t tell her husband what she “does want," it only tells him what she doesn't like.  Here’s a story (you may have heard it) about a woman who told her husband that he was spending too much time at the office. So guess what he did... he joined a bowling league.  

If you are in a similar situation, are you clear about how much time you would like to spend with your spouse?  Do you know what you would like to do together that would be satisfying and build the quality of connection you want? We suggest you get very clear about what you “do want” in relation to spending time with them.

There are many skills, tools, and understandings we teach that can support you in creating the kind of relationship you want. Many more than we can go into here.  We also believe that words can only give you an intellectual understanding, but it is experiential learning and practice that shifts behavior and habitual reactions.  

We want to leave you with a couple of things to practice:

1.Each time you notice yourself feeling uncomfortable, stop as soon as you can and identify the thoughts that are causing your discomfort. Then ask yourself, “Do I want to have this kind of thinking guide my actions?” Then notice what occurs to you differently.

2.Listen for times you hear yourself saying things such as “I don’t want, I don’t like, I wish you wouldn’t, would you stop...” or any other “don’t want” statements. As soon as possible, stop and write down what you “do want” in the situation.

We believe these practices will not only help you experience more peace and harmony in your life, they will also support a desire for predictability and may therefore give you more comfort and stability. Life is way more predictable when you are the one in control of how you feel.

As we said before, the first place to start in a challenging situation is to look inside and see what part you are playing. Once you start cleaning up your internal environment it’s much easier to start negotiating outcomes that will satisfy everyone involved.  

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If you found this article helpful, you may want to learn more about this and other [Link Removed] 

This series offers relationship advice for your marital problems, free from bias and judgment.


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