Throughout your marriage, you will have many requests for your partner. To do the dishes more often, to spend more time planning dates, to pay more attention to you when you are telling a story.
These requests aren’t unreasonable, and they should be validated by your partner. Unfortunately, it is all to easy for requests to end up feeling like “nagging” — especially if you make them when feeling stressed or frustrated. Worse, once you fall into this pattern, it can be hard for your partner to listen to any of your requests.
Use these tips to change the way you approach requests and create a more productive conversation that is based on solutions, not nit-picking or airing out frustrations.
Make Requests with a Calm Tone
As we mentioned earlier, stress and frustration can turn a simple request into an annoying “nag.”
If you are feeling stressed or angry at your partner, it might not be a great time to make a request. Take some time to cool down before approaching them.
Build Them Up Rather Than Tearing Them Down
Here’s the difference between a nag and request. A nag sounds like this: “You never listen to me!” A request sounds like this: “Sometimes, I get the sense that you are more focused on your phone than on my story. This hurts me because I want to share my day with you. Can we start turning our phones off when we eat dinner together?”
In short, a “nag” feels like an accusation or a critique. The request, in contrast, avoids shame and blame and offers a solution to the problem. Eliminate accusatory tones from your language to create a more positive discussion.
Don’t Assume That Your Partner Is A Mind-Reader
After a long commute from work, coming home to a huge stack of dishes really stresses you out. But does your partner know this? Not necessarily.
When you make requests, be open about your feelings and why certain actions make you feel a certain way. This explanation may give them more motivation to create a couple’s answer to the issue or take on certain requests.
Talk to a Relationship Counselor
These tips are often easier said than done. If you need help working through a specific request or would like more tools to help you make more positive requests, seek out either Tim Higdon or Norene Gonsiewski, both seasoned and expert relationship counselors. A third party can help both parties hear, validate, and empathize with their partner to build a productive and positive discussion.