Yesterday I advised staying away from the question “You want to…?” or “What do you want…?” Instead, honestly state what you want: “I want to…” This is the beginning of a Partnership agreement discussion. As long as both partners come from what they honestly want, then a loving negotiation can take place (See The Question That Kills Relationships Part I).
But there is even more going on underneath these questions that kill relationships. It has to do with responsibility. We can either come from “I want..” or “You want..”, and then add in “I’m responsible” or “You’re responsible.” From this, there are four ways to approach a planning conversation, and only the fourth one is Partnership.
1) You Want + I’m Responsible.
If we ask the other person what they want and then make ourselves responsible for the outcome, then we give up our power to them. This is common for people who are not secure. They are dependent on the other person and so take responsibility for what the other one wants so as to be indispensable to them. Not a satisfying or healthy way to be in relationship.
2) I Want + You’re Responsible.
The opposite is true as well for killing relationships. Say for example, I speak from what I want, yet make the other person responsible for making it happen. If they accept this responsibility, now I have control over them because I have the power to accept or reject their effort. This kind of manipulation happens all of the time in relationships and we don’t even realize that it’s manipulation. A common phrase I’ve heard is, “They’re supposed to make me happy.” In other words they are saying, ‘I want to be happy, but my significant other is responsible for making me happy.’ But if this person is never happy, than their significant other ends up feeling like a failure in the relationship, which always diminishes their connection.
3) You Want + You’re Responsible.
In this scenario, we are completely off-loading our power in making plans for our life. We do this because it’s easier to not think about what we want. That way, we don’t have to put any effort into our life. At the same time, we have to accept whatever we get. When we do this, we kill our own dreams and deprive the world of our unique talents and gifts.
4) I Want + I’m Responsible.
This is the beginning of a Partnership conversation! Partnership is when Partner 1 in a relationship expresses their want or need to Partner 2. Then Partner 1 asks Partner 2 what they need to make it happen. Whatever Partner 2 needs, Partner 1 takes responsibility for giving it to them. Then Partner 2 has everything they need to fulfill Partner 1’s want. What I have discovered is that most of the time, Partner 2 is willing and capable to give whatever is needed. (See Diagram Below)
An Example of an Agreement Conversation:
Recently, Sarah and I had a morning meeting to attend in the morning. We had done our usual morning routine, including exercise, and were about to start our morning mediation. I said to Sarah, “I want to do a guided meditation.” She said, “Ok.” Then I proceeded to make that happen because it is now my responsibility. Then Sarah said, “Wait, I need extra time to get ready this morning, otherwise I will not set myself up to win for the meeting.”
Since we practice Partnership, Sarah remembered that if she needed extra time, it was her responsibility to ask for it. And since I wanted to do the meditation with her, we needed to come up with a solution since that’s what I wanted. So I suggest, “Let’s get ready now for the meeting and do the meditation when we get back.” She said, “Sounds good.” From this simple and quick interchange, we both got what we needed and wanted, and were very fulfilled and satisfied. It feels empowering when we create what we want through Partnership!
Here’s another example of an Agreement Conversation:
The other night, Sarah was preparing to make mushroom tacos for dinner. I caught myself about to ask her a relationship killing question, “Do you want me to help you?” Instead, I stopped myself, then stated, “I want to help you. What would be the best thing I can do for you?” Sarah easily fulfilled my request by having me prepare the garlic, onions and ginger. It is so empowering to go through life stating what we want!
Start Working on Your Agreements!
Have a conversation with your romantic partner about changing the way you make plans so that the both of you come from I Want + I’m Responsible. It sounds easy, but like I said yesterday, the other way is a bad habit, and bad habits are often hard to break. Support each other in coming from I Want + I’m Responsible. It will always work to deepen your connection and love for each other. It always does for us! And remember, in a true Partnership, everything is negotiable.
Thank you so much for reading!
Love, Chris Enni – Partnership and Love
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