Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Why Ultimatums Don’t Work in Relationships'

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Yeah. Well...

I'll say this: I know people who are married now based on ultimatums that were given. And real talk, even if the woman thought it worked initially, it ended up backfiring on her because she had consequences she wasn't prepared for. As a direct result, the ultimatum that she presented ended up making her feel like she wasn't wanted enough to not have to threaten to leave in order to get married. Meanwhile, the husband is a bit resentful due to all of the pressure he was given. Plus, by giving into the marriage ultimatum, the wife tends to think that method still works. And anything (or one) under a lot of pressure tends to...pop, one way or another. At one point or another.

So yes, I agree with the author of this (S-C-A-P) piece that ultimately, ultimatums don't work. If you're tired of waiting (love *is* patient and patience completes things, right?-I Corinthians 13:4, James 1:4) or if you feel your relationship is stagnate, go to God for divine wisdom (James 1:5) about it first. You might be impatient (Ecclesiastes 3:11) or it might be time to do something different.

And the "different", for single women, may not be to move forward but...to move on.

Remember, actor Mark Ruffalo said that when it was time for him to get married, he ran to it. *Ran to it*. He wasn't pushed or pulled.

That said...

“If don’t ask me to marry you, then we need to break up.”

“If we don’t go to counseling, it’s over.”

“If you really loved me, you would…”

Ultimatums.

They give the person extending them a false sense of power. Why is it a false sense of power? Well, think about it. When you tell someone what he needs to do or say in order for you to be happy and have what you want, are you really the one with the power?

No.

You’ve basically handed over the power to have what you want to another person. You’ve made your happiness contingent upon the other person’s choice.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you’ve been dating someone for a long time and, while it’s all nice, the relationship clearly not going anywhere. If you know that in order for you to be happy, you want to be in a committed relationship that ultimately leads to marriage, then you are the one with a choice to make. Not him.  Now, you can definitely let him know that you would like to be married, but you wouldn’t tell him that if he wants to stay with you, he needs to want the same thing.

You’d simply say something like, “I’d really like to be married” – not “I’d really like to marry you” or “If you want to stay together, then I need to know that our relationship is leading to marriage.”

The last two statements make your choice hinge upon what he wants. Plus, if he did propose to you because you threatened to leave him, you’d never really know whether he would have chosen to ask you himself. Not because he was afraid of losing you, but because he couldn’t imagine spending the rest of his life without you!

In saying, “I’d like to be married,” you are owning your choice and your happiness.  The word “you” (meaning him) is not even in that statement, because this is your desire.

The same holds true if you’re in a relationship or marriage. Telling your boyfriend or husband what he needs to do in order for you to be happy is manipulative and inauthentic. It’s a way to separate yourself from your own desires so that you don’t have to be vulnerable and share what you want for yourself.

Saying “We need to go to counseling, or it’s over” rather than “I’d like to go to counseling” is more about instilling fear in the other person. It also sends the message that, unless the other person does something to “fix” or change himself, the relationship simply won’t work.   This message of “you need to change or be ‘fixed’” is what has most men resist the idea in the first place.  Who the heck wants to go sit in an office with a stranger for an hour and listen to all of the things they’re doing wrong?

Saying “We need to go to counseling” also keeps you from committing to make the changes you can make that would make a difference in the relationship, because you’re hinging your willingness to change on his.

So, rather than throwing around ultimatums and giving away your power, own you power.

Look within and ask yourself what it is that you want. What is it that would make you happy? What have you been settling for and not willing to stand for?  Where have you been making another person responsible for your own happiness?

Once you’ve identified those things, then create a simple statement that expresses what you want. Begin it with “I want…,” and make sure the words “you,” “we,” and “us” are nowhere in your statement.

Simply own your desire and embrace the power you have to create what you want in your life and in love!


Good stuff. Pass it on. ;-)

Luxuriant,

SRW

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