Okay, I'm going to play devil's advocate. What if he does say it's all about you? Planning for the worst sometimes makes me able to relax a little because I have a plan for worst case scenario, even I don't think it's likely. My mom thinks this is daft, but it really helps me.
If I were in that situation then I would want to tell him how it makes me feel. How would you feel? Backed into a corner? Frustrated? Blamed? Try to tell him honestly without accusing him, using "I" statement about you, and then guide him into a more productive way of talking with you, telling him you value his opinion and want to hear him but how he's phrasing it makes you anxious. It would help if he only used "I" statements about himself, such as "I feel frustrated when I see dust bunnies rolling around under the bureau." Nothing about you to begin with.
Then ask for a plan. How would it be if he could have everything just as he honestly wants it without regard for your desires? Write it out together if necessary. Don't say anything no matter how crazy it is - just write. Then write out what you would honestly like if it were just you. Stop him if he protests - no apologies for each of you. Ask for more time to think about it if you are really bowled over or need time to think (but agree when you'll come back). Then, when you and he have a blue print of what you each want, you can come together and work out compromises. Be realistic. If he has never vacuumed the living room though you've asked him to help a thousand times, ask him what is behind him not thinking he needs to do his share, or what he would be willing to do in return for your continuing to do it. Decide if you like what he's offering if you go that road - make it fun, make it worthwhile(dance lessons? dinner? Hold him to it)! Go through each thing on the list and decide which things are most important to you, and go back and forth choosing one from each list each time - flip a coin for who goes first if you need to. Even if you don't follow this all the way to the end, it will be useful in taking the focus off what one partner is or isn't doing, and on what you both can do to make things better.
If there is anything he can do to get what he wants (which is after all what this is about, since it seems like you may be happy with things as they are) I imagine he should want to do his best. If you feel comfortable and valued, he only stands to gain.
If you know how to handle it if he does the worst thing you think he could, then if he is gentler, you can feel a little gratitude that he took the time to be kind. Thank him. If you can find a way to look at this with love in your heart (after all we cared enough to marry them!), then working on a solution that pleases you both will only make you stronger.
Don't be afraid. You are not as powerless as you may feel!
Edited by: ADRIENNE502002 at: 4/27/2009 (22:14)
If you really want to be happy, nobody can stop you.
Sister Mary Tricky
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