Dealing With a Difficult Partner



I often get calls asking me “my wife / my husband”, boy friend / girlfriend is a very difficult person to live with: “What should I Do?” or “My husband / my wife are really a difficult person they really need therapy, how can I get them into see you?”

 By the way, even if your partner is really not difficult generally, there are certainly times when they can be difficult. 

 Let’s assume your partner is always leaves clothes around and it’s driving you crazy.  Your partner’s response is either to say you are making too big a deal of it or to ignore you.

The first step is to be specific and limited about what you are asking for:

 I would really like it if you picked up your clothes, at night from the living room floor.

The second step – find out what will motivate your partner.

I would really like it if you picked up your clothes from the living room, what would you like in return?

Note #1: People are more likely to be responsive if they feel there is something in it for them.

 Note #2 – Yelling at someone or berating them only causes friction and usually doesn’t get cooperation.

Step #3A.  If the person does what’s agreed on.

Re enforce.

If the person does respond, then not only give them what you have agreed on, but let them know how much you appreciate what they have done.

Step #3B.  If the person does not do what’s agreed on.

You might let them know you are upset or disappointed. Ask them: Why weren’t you able to do put the clothes away?

Note: Resist the tendency to criticize them.

With your partner’s consent, talk about what stopped them from doing what they had promised and work at finding a way to dealing with that block.

This three step approach may not always work, but it is a start. Sometimes there are deeper issues behind resistance to cooperate and this: One, Two, Three approach may not work, but it is a strategy worth trying.

Good luck and let me know how things work out.

Dr. Marty

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