There are times in your life when you’re on a passionate journey to uplevel your life, when you suddenly realise that your partner is being left behind. No matter how hard you’d like to ignore it, they are just not in the same space as us. What can you do if you’re making big changes in your parenting approach, your health or your routines but your partner just isn’t? The truth is you really cannot change anyone else, you have to make the change yourself. In today’s episode, I’m showing you three steps to take back control when you’re afraid your partner won’t step up.
What You’ll Discover in this Episode:
- How to communicate so that what you’re saying sinks in.
- What to focus on first.
- When to step in.
This dilemma is exactly what one of my clients has recently been through and, to be honest, she is not alone! I have caught myself yearning to point my finger and expect my partner to change. Instead, I take these three steps because they work. It’s time to step up!
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Two highly influential individuals mentioned: Marshall Rosenberg and Byron Katie.
- For free support in your upleveling journey join my Facebook group Expats on Purpose.
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour, this is Sundae Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-oriented coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations and I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition
So, I was looking at something on Facebook and suddenly a message popped up. A message that I’ll share with you and I have a hunch that it might sound familiar.
“Hey Sundae, I’ve been thinking a lot about your video and upleveling my life, you know getting clear on my priorities. I have a question for you. How do we align our priorities with our husbands?
Probably not the right way to phrase it, but in my life, I’ve been working really hard to connect differently to my kids. I’ve changed my communication style and working differently with them and then always seeking opportunities to engage with them. But despite my best courageous conversations, you know using the tools that you sent me, thank you Sundae, my husband just won’t step up.
On the weekends, he lives by his phone iPad or the TV you can’t step away from devices part of it is because pressure of work, but I really feel the biggest part is actually habit. I can’t discuss it with him without it escalating. He feels like I’m criticizing. In in the meantime, it’s the kids that miss out. So what do you do? I know I’m not the only one. What can we do about spouses that just aren’t connected or visible with the kids let alone our relationships? What can we do?”
I looked at the screen and thought man I know this is hard.
I sent her a message. I’m going to share much of that message with you today because I get it. If this sounds familiar maybe it’s not about your kids, maybe it’s something else. But I know it’s hard. You feel like you’re making huge changes in your life. Maybe it’s with your health or your business or your family and you’re all motivated but then you have this huge downslide because you’re frustrated that your partner isn’t onboard. They’re not stepping up in their lives and you feel like you’re moving forward and they’re behind almost dragging you down. You want to grab them and shake them and say “Don’t you see what you’re missing? Wake up!”
I get it!
When we’re making changes in our life that impact our entire system with our families or partners maybe our team, whatever it is, we want other people to change with us because we see how good it is. But the truth is you can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. At the same time. It doesn’t mean that you have to accept everything.
In today’s podcast it’s all about how you can speak up so others are stepping up to help meet your needs or to understand what’s important to you. So I’m going to share three steps for what you can do when you’re with your partner who won’t step up. And this might be your romantic partner, this could be a business partner, this could even be one of your family members because we are in partnership with people that we love, the people that we work with, with people that we depend upon. So this isn’t just a spouse thing, the same steps can work with other relationships.
All right, I’ll dive right in using the example from the person who wrote to me but you’ll see that the same steps can be used for whatever is on your mind.
Step 1: When your partner won’t step up – make the impact transparent. Make the impact transparent.
So with my client that wrote in to me I shared a worksheet from Marshall Rosenberg that talks about nonviolent communication, and I will make sure I include that in the show notes so that you are on the same page as I am. But what it basically does is makes the impact on you transparent. So just basically you start by saying “Hey I notice that I am on a huge kick to make changes in my life with the girls” let’s say “and I’ve really up levelled the way I communicate with them and how I’m taking care of myself. So I have more patience, at the same time I’ve also noticed that when you come home from work you go straight to your phone or the TV and the girls don’t get a lot of attention from you. So I’m guessing that you’re tired and that you wanted to decompress. What can we do as a family so that you can decompress and we can also make time and energy as a family?”
So you’ll see the details in the notes for now, violent communication but what I basically did is: what I noticed how I feel, the impact on me, and then the request that you make to them.
This is helping your partner understand the impact on the family, in a way that is loving and non-threatening. So make the impact transparent.
Step 2: Get creative.
Essentially what you’re saying is “hey I see that you’ve needs, right you’re exhausted, let’s meet them”, and you’re saying “’I’ve got needs too let’s meet them em”. So now you can make that impact transparent and you share what needs you have. So in this case her need is to have support in the way she’s creating a more connected family and one of her needs is also to have a happy husband whose having his needs met. So you sit together and you say “okay, now that we know this is what we mean together how do we how do we do both at the same time?” Most people fight over strategy and not needs, like “nobody would fight that you shouldn’t relax but we fight like why are you watching TV? You should be outside playing soccer with the girls”, right we don’t fight about needs. No one would argue with the fact that you need to decompress after work but we do fight about strategy. So that helps keep your needs in the center. Maybe this person’s needs is to really live in alignment with the type of mother that she wants to be. That’s important to her that she is living in the way that she wants to lead her girls, nobody would argue in that case. But how can you make that happen? So number two is get creative.
Step 3: This is where it gets tough for some people, is – put the ball in their court.
Byron Katie has a very simple explanation of what you need to do in terms of putting the ball in their court, she says there’s three types of business and you need to ask whose business you’re in:
There’s your business which means your needs, your emotions, your priorities.
There’s their business, that means how they get their needs met, what their emotions are what they think.
And then there’s God’s business, and in the spirit that Byron Katie means God’s business, might be like you know, is there going to be a typhoon? How long will I live? Will something that’s totally out of my control really happen? That’s God’s business.
I know when my son was about four years old I was already worried about when he’s 16, that’s the kind of Mom I am, I’m going to worry 12 years in advance. The future is not my business in that sense because that was causing stress.
So here we go. Put the ball in their court, is giving back into your business and letting them take care of theirs. So he for example is super stressed at work. He needs to think of strategies to decompress that are in alignment with the needs of the whole family and while you as a partner might be there to brainstorm strategies how you can could co-create this, essentially it’s his job to manage his stress. And if he needs something, like if he needs a buffer in his day between work and family life, then he can ask for that. I have an article about creating a buffer in your day and why that’s important for your life, and I’ll also include it in the show notes for you. So that’s the ball in his court. He needs to think about “hey my stress is impacting the family, what can I do?” So they have less of an impact on them but still meet my needs to decompress.
So, we have said first make the impact transparent, second get creative and third put the ball in their court, and then you let them go. You have an agreement, you talk about the strategies, you make an experiment to see how it goes, and if you feel weeks down the road you’re not seeing results then you just go back to number one and you share the impact. “Hey hon a couple of weeks ago we talked about some strategies that you’re going to use to decompress after work. You said you were going to take 10 minutes to go for a walk around the block before into the house. But I noticed that you didn’t, that you went straight from the car into the house and I also notice that you continued to go straight to the TV instead of playing soccer with the girls like you promised. Obviously you need some support because that strategy is not working for you. I’m feeling a little bit pessimistic that this is actually going to work, and I do want to believe in you. So what can we do to tweak this plan so that you go back and you don’t give up.?” Because essentially you teach people how to treat you and if you let it go too long then things backslide into exactly where they started.
We’ve looked at this one, two, three, four. This specific situation when your partner brings the stress from work home and you want to make a change in that. I actually have an article I’ve written exactly about that what to do when your partner has a high pressure job and that is impacting your home life. I will also include that in the show notes for you.
But maybe it’s something else that’s important to you maybe what you’re working on up leveling is your health. One of my clients was on a fast track to up leveling her life. We were seeing really cool things happening in coaching and she got stuck, because with her partner what they did was Netflix and wine and that wasn’t in alignment anymore with the way she was up leveling her health, so the conversation with her partner went like this. “Hey honey I’ve noticed that I’m really really committed to making long term changes in my health, how I’m eating, how much I want to move and I feel really excited about this, at the same time I feel kind of conflicted because one of the things that we do to spend time together is hang out watch netflix and drink wine, which I love but I’m conflicted because I value my health and this isn’t in alignment with how I want to spend my evenings, and I still want to be connected to you. Would you be willing to brainstorm with me how we can make a small change? Maybe we can pick one night where we do Netflix and wine and the other nights we go for a walk before sunset?” So she was able to use this process with her partner to raise awareness about the changes that she’s making in her life to up level and ask her partner to get on board in a way that felt was in alignment with that individual as well. You can’t make your partner go on a health kick either but what happened, which is really sweet in this story, is her partner did get on board and did start walking with her and when they had broken the routine then he started stepping up in his own life which isn’t the point.
Actually the point is you step up in your life and you get your needs met and you find a way that everybody gets their needs met and then you see what happens. Right, you have to let go of the outcome and in this case the outcome was really positive which happens most of the time. Maybe what you’re trying to up level is your connection with your partner. Maybe you feel like there’s some distance that’s come between you.
One of my clients had a situation similar to this where she raised the awareness to her partner, and it went something like this “Hey honey I noticed when you come home from work that we don’t really talk a lot, you know I make dinner and you set the table and I feel like you know the newspaper is more important than me. We don’t have eye contact, you don’t ask me questions about my day and it makes me feel kind of sad because I really love to share about my life with you and I’d love to hear what’s planned your life, and I also really value being important to you, I value our connection. What I think about it, I have a hunch that we just have to create a routine where we can connect in a way that outside distractions don’t interrupt. Would you be willing to schedule a date night like once a month so we can at least connect Ben?”
That conversation turned out really well, they found out that it was their routine that was in the way and not their relationship. She was cooking and he’s not a cook, he set the table and while she was still cooking he sat down and read the paper. Simple, it wasn’t about them, it was about the structure and the habit in a creative.
So whatever it is, you can apply these three steps to take back control when what you’re thinking is that your partner won’t step up, number one make the impact transparent to get creative and three put the ball in their court and repeat as necessary.
I get it, I get it these situations, it is so easy, I don’t know how many times I have wanted to point the finger at my partner and say “you change.’’ I’m literally pointing my arm into the air right now because that’s how bad I wanted to do it! I feel so much better when I can look at the one that I love and say you do the right thing, but you’re in this for the long haul, and we know that you teach people how to treat you. So here’s the thing. When what we thought was we wanted our partner to step up is actually an invitation for you to step up for you to learn what you need and how you can get those needs met by yourself for yourself and in partnership with the people that are important to you. So you’re the one levelling up for your relationship and for yourself and that is worth stepping up for!
You’ve been listening to the Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Bean. Thank you for listening, I hope you’ve been enjoying the new format of the podcast that you can see on the blog. Now you can either listen and if that isn’t what you want to do you can download the transcript or scroll through to reach it on my site. So if you’re a avid podcast listener and you love my content but you know your friends are more readers then let them know about this shift in format for Expat Happy Hour, because the more people who know about this, the more changes in lives that we can impact together. All right so if you’re one of those listeners please leave a comment on the blog post or write a review and in iTunes so we can get the message out to more.
All right. Love you guys. Thanks for listening.
I’m going to leave you with an anonymous quote “level up so no one can leave you hanging.”