So you’re sitting there, perhaps at dinner, across from the person you were once so in love with you couldn’t think straight. Maybe he’s talking, maybe she’s eating. Maybe you are too.
But you’re not really enjoying your significant other’s company because there’s a soundtrack going on inside of your head. It goes something like this: I wish he would just X or I wish she would stop Y.
Although there’s something you really want, perhaps even need from your partner, you wouldn’t dare speak of it. No. No. No. Your lizard has convinced you to stay silent, no matter what the cost. And the cost is great. The cost is your happiness, and subsequently his as well. So you keep on keeping quiet.
Perhaps you stew in silence. Perhaps you make snide or passive-aggressive comments. Perhaps you complain to your friends-I wish she would just do X! or I wish he would just stop Y! Perhaps you pray that he’ll become psychic and learn to read your mind. It doesn’t really matter what you do. As long as you aren’t voicing your wants in your relationship, you’re putting up a huge wall between you and your S.O.
Here is the reality: Until you tell people what you would like from them, they will most likely continue to act in a way that is habitual for them. And the only thing that’s stopping you from voicing your wants in your relationship is your sneaky, little lizard. The funny thing is, the lizard’s got it all wrong (as you will realize it often does). Keeping your wants to yourself does not prevent bad things from happening-it almost guarantees that they will continue!
What you need is a plan. I’ve created one for you. Here is a very simple, three-step process to transforming your relationship:
Step 1: Ask yourself, “What do I want from my partner?” (Do you want him to make more of an effort to remember your anniversary? Would you like him to stop teasing you about your nail polish addiction in front of your friends?)
Step 2: Identify the lizard voice that is shrieking in fear at the thought of you voicing these wants. Pat your lizard on its head, give it a fly to eat and then tell it that your happiness is greater than its fear. (Repeat after me: Lizard, my happiness is greater than your fear).
Step 3: Risk openness by sharing your wants with your partner.
That’s right. You’ve got to risk being open with the person you love. And I say risk, because the truth is, people don’t always respond to our requests. Your partner may laugh at you, ignore your request or just stare off into space. Who knows? There’s no guarantee your request will be heeded. And that’s okay.
The power here lies in giving a voice to your own wants and being brave enough to silence the lizard so that you can speak them. The first time you do this, it’s terrifying. The second time, it’s pretty frightening. But after awhile, it becomes easier and easier to identify what you’d like from your partner and to state it.
It’s one of the most simple and most empowering tools I’ve ever tried. The best thing is that once I started using this three-step process in my marriage, my husband (the soft-spoken one in our relationship) started speaking up as well. I had no idea the small things he needed that would make him so much happier until he told me. Neither of us obliges every request from the other, but knowing we can voice them when they come up has created a lot more openness between us.
Try it out and see what happens. Isn’t it time you ran your relationship, instead of your lizard?