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Sometimes (let’s admit it – most of the time) our partner does something that we take issue with. Very often I hear the following behavior being addressed in couples counseling:
– “He always has the last word”
– “She manages my time with ‘honey do list’”
– “My wife is a nag”
– “My husband never hears what I have to say”
– “My girlfriend criticizes how I act, look, eat, etc.”
– “My boyfriend walks on eggshells around me and tries too hard to please me”
Natural reaction is to either ignore the behavior until one can’t stand it any longer and an explosion occurs or talk about it head on which usually causes the other person to become defensive. There is another option…TOMATO.
Choose a moment with your significant other when both of you are in a good place and are open to hearing one another. Make an “I statement” about a behaviour that you take issue with. For example, “I feel shut down when arguing if you insist on having the last word”. Your partner will be more receptive to hear you out and be open to coming up with solutions. This is when you ask if your partner is open to you bringing his/her awareness to the situation when you feel shut down. Come up with a secret odd word (tomato) that can be used at these moments. This will add humor and diffuse the situation while still bringing his/her attention to the matter.
Try this option next time you feel frustrated with your partner and see if calling out tomato will garner better results. This soft subtle approach will make you both feel like you’re part of one team as a opposed to adversarial opponents. Have fun coming up with your secret word.