For many of us, it’s hard to know what we want, let alone express it to our life partner. If we are brave enough to actually tell our partner our preference/desire/fantasy, it can feel crushing when this is not met with immediate and enthusiastic acceptance.
Yet, the truth is we are always attracted to someone who is different from us. An inevitable result is that our partner will see things differently, will have different preferences, and organise their priorities in ways that are alien to us. This creates conflict. It doesn’t mean there is anything going wrong.
This is where we need to be persistent. To hold on to what we think, want, or feel and keep treating it as important and worthwhile. Yet, just to make the business of relationship even more challenging, we have to, AT THE SAME TIME, treat our partner’s perspective as being of interest and value. To be open to them and how they feel and see things.
If you fall into the trap of trying to tell your partner they are wrong because they are different, you undermine your credibility and invite defensiveness.
If you fall into the trap of appeasement, of giving in for the sake of peace, you abandon your self and set the seeds of resentment and frustation.
If your idea is a good one then your job is to persuade your partner of its merits. You will have to “sell” them the idea in a way that shows you are open to them. Talk in terms that have meaning for them, that fit with their view of the world. Successful persuasion involves a lot of empathy and, frequently, knowledge of what is important to the other person, of their world view.
In order to be persuasive, you may need to persist past your partner’s initial self-protective reflexes, past their misunderstandings of what you meant, and past their fears of losing out or surrendering their power.
You are likely to have to reach deep into yourself to understand and explain why this issue is important to you or why it is in their interest to do it your way. This is why conflict, done well, is often a road to deepening intimacy.
If you are genuinely open to listening to your partner and how it is for them and what they want, you may find yourself looking for solutions that are different from those you first thought of. Creative solutions that give you both what you are seeking – the wonderful “win-win” position that is quite outside the box but works well for you both.
It can happen but, in my experience, it takes persistance, persuasion and openness to create those magical moments of successful resolution.