What If My Spouse isn’t Interested
Creating a Happy Marriage with an Unwilling Partner
In the last installment of our e-course – What If My Spouse isn’t Interested- 6 Things You Can Do to Create a Happy Marriage with an Unwilling Partner, you learned the importance of mirroring. In this installment What If My Spouse isn’t Interested- 6 Things You Can to to Create a Happy Marriage with an Unwilling Partner, we will discuss the 5th thing you can do to create a happy marriage with an unwilling partner- keep the goal in mind.
Step #1 Keep the Goal in Mind
Keeping the goal in mind means that when you engage in relationship, you have a clear intention of what you want to accomplish. Do you want to connect or disconnect? Do you want a happy marriage? It seems obvious that of course you want a happy marriage but when you speak to your spouse what are the desired results? As you examine the intended results, you think about how you can achieve those results. Is yelling at your spouse going to bring you closer together and give you the happy marriage you want? Probably not, so it is important to act in a way that helps you achieve your goal of connection and having a happy marriage.
A Very important step for taking the steps necessary to create a Happy marriage:
Make Sure it is a Good Time to Talk
If you have decided that your goal is to connect then you must create a safe environment in which to share.This is accomplished by first making sure it is a good time to talk. Did you ever walk in the door hungry and tired from a long day of work, only to be greeted by your spouse’s grievances? Or maybe you were in the middle of writing an important email and your spouse interrupts you to talk about an issue? If we catch our spouse off-guard, we are not giving them a chance to show up with their best, attentive, and loving selves.
If you want your spouse to listen and hear your story and not be reactive you MUST make sure it is a good time to talk. In the case of a husband coming home from work wanting to complain to his wife about the house being in disarray, he would be setting her up for fight/flight mode by spontaneously “dumping”, expecting her to listen intently without responding. She will not appreciate being told what she did wrong or how much she frustrates him if she has not been asked if now is a good time to talk.
“Dumping” is threatening and will prevent your spouse from feeling safe enough to listen and being there for you. Ask yourself, “What is my intention for having this conversation?” Do you want your spouse to really hear you or do you just wish to hurt them or dump on them? The intention of any interchange, no matter how challenging the issue, is connection. Connection is one of the secrets to a happy marriage .
Making the Appointment for a Happy Marriage
So what do you do when you need to talk about something difficult with your spouse? You ask him/her: I would like to to share something with you/talk . . . is now a good time? I even have couples in their sessions make an appointment with their spouse,(while they’re sitting there) to talk about an important issue, even though the entire reason they showed up for the session was to do this work! Nevertheless, it trains them to show concern for the listener on the receiving end. It opens the receiver up to being available to enter the world of the other. When the person listening has advance notice prior to you sharing, he/she is more likely to hear you in a less defensive way.
Scheduling a Rain Check
What happens if now is not a good time? This is often actually a good thing. There is usually one spouse that is more impulsive and ready to unleash at a moment’s notice. If your spouse is unable to listen at this time, it will provide a chance for the intensity to abate. Once it is no longer as urgent, he/she can express the frustration in a more conscious and less reactive way. This is also beneficial for the listener because if now is not a good time, having just gotten home from work and hungry or are mentally and emotionally not able to listen, he/she will not be set up for an escalation of tension.
There is one caveat here. If a request for an appointment cannot be met immediately, it should be rescheduled, preferably within the next 24 hours, or as soon as possible thereafter. If one spouse constantly says it is a not a good time, the spouse who wants to talk will never have the chance to express his/her feelings and will feel unheard and resentful. An appropriate response would be: Now is not a good time and I really want to hear what you have to say. Could we talk later tonight when I get home? Scheduling within the next 24 hours shows that you are not pushing them off, and even though you may not really want to hear what your spouse has to say, you are giving them a time when you will be more available and feel safer. Once the appointment is made it shows the sender that you care and some of the steam will subside.
While all of this may sound too rigid, it allows you to keep your goal of connection in mind, conveys your intention to your spouse, and brings you closer to achieving your desired result!
Summary of what you learned in Lesson 5
- Always keep your goal in mind when engaging in relationship- if you want to connect act in a way that brings about that goal
- Make an appointment instead of dumping
- How to schedule an appointment
- If you aren’t emotionally or physically available, reschedule promptly
Looking forward to teaching you more about creating your ideal marriage in Installment #6 of Creating a Happy Marriage.