Independence. Tricky word in relationships, right? It can seem a bit selfish in a partnership to ask for your own way sometimes. Read on to learn how you and your partner can talk about your individual hopes and dreams and make them come true in a revolutionary new way!
It All Starts with a New Definition
So, am I really asking you to start a revolution? It sounds like a violent word, right? A warlike uprising is one meaning – especially in the context of our own fight for independence in the U.S. But in the context of happy relationships, we’re talking about starting a Love Revolution! That’s right. We’re talking about a revolutionary way of thinking about our independence in our most intimate relationship. Are you brave enough to lead a revolt? Here’s how. Who’s with me?
Webster defines revolution as “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something: a change of paradigm"
Step 1 – Surrender!
Surrender? I know it’s not what you expected but trust me on this. This first step in the revolution is to give up. When we stop trying to win over our partner by bullying or demanding our way, we actually gain ground in the revolution. It puts us in better strategic position to be heard and understood. From this vantage point, we won’t even need a megaphone for our partner to hear us. When we stop shouting we can more effectively talk about what we need, and set our partner up to take our side. Relationship experts Drs. John and Julie Gottman call this “yielding to win”.
Step 2 – Invite our Partner to Join the Revolution
Once we’ve laid down our weapons and exchanged them for conversation, what do we do now? Now we calmly and gently explain our needs to our partner and ask for what we want with love and understanding. We are asking for our partner to make room for our needs in a new way that may require some concession on their part. We’ll lovingly be patient with our partner while they adjust to our “ask” and we’ll listen to their side to understand the cost. It’s a summit of sorts. It takes time to adjust to this new way of working together so patience and empathy are the key.
Step 3 – Stay True to the Cause
Leaders in a revolt have a responsibility to stay the course. When we encounter resistance, it’s easy to give up, get angry and defensive, and retreat. It’s not easy leading our family to a new way of doing life together. So how do we stay true to the cause? We remain:
Clear and calm in our ask
Consistent in our own actions
Committed to moving forward
Our ask is always the same, we take responsibility for our part in meeting our own needs, and we take radical steps to move ourselves forward to live out our dreams.
Here’s How it Works
Mary wanted to take a vacation to see Niagara Falls. Her husband John saw such a trip as a waste of money and told Mary he didn’t want to go. Mary became angry, withdrew from John emotionally, and blamed him for her unhappiness.
Then Mary decided to start a Love Revolution! Mary told John she was going to Niagara Falls and that she would love for him to come with her. She set a date a year in advance and put the date on the family calendar. Every time John and Mary sat down to sync their calendars, she reminded John of the trip to Niagara Falls and every time John said they were not going. Mary said she understood John’s resistance, but it was important to her and she would be making the trip.
Mary knew she needed to fund the trip, so she took a part time job a few evenings a week working at a local retail store. She opened a savings account and deposited all her earnings into the account for the trip. When John told Mary he did not like her working at the store, she empathized with him, telling him she understood that it took her away from him, but that it was important to her to pay for her trip to Niagara Falls so she would be working until she saved up enough money.
Soon after, the air conditioner needed repair and John told Mary it was a good idea that she had been working so they had extra money for the repair. Mary calmly reminded John that the money was for her trip and that they would have to pay for the repair another way. John was angry at Mary. She told him she understood he was angry, but that she had repeatedly told him that she was working to pay for the trip and she was sorry that he was upset.
As the date for the trip arrived, Mary again invited John to come with her. When John saw how committed Mary was to the trip, and how hard she had worked to go, he took some money he had saved and gave it to Mary and started planning to go with her.
Mary’s dream to go to Niagara Falls came true, and she was able to spend it with John like she dreamed of from the beginning. And John began to understand Mary better as he enjoyed time with her on the trip. He also has a new respect for Mary and how dedicated she is to her dreams. He begins to dream his own dreams and partner with Mary to live them out. Their bucket list began to grow. It’s the start of a revolution!
So, that’s how you can lead a Love Revolution. It’s a radical way of making room for each other in a relationship. When we are willing to lead the way, it’s amazing how we can transform our relationship to something new and exciting.
Today’s the day for your Love Revolution. Who knows what new memories you’ll create on the way! Seize the day!
Dianne Presley, MSW, LCSW, BC-TMH
Owner/Founder Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC
Level 1 & 2 Trained Gottman Therapist