The million dollar question that every relationship coach is confronted with: "How do you 'enroll' your partner to 'do the work' with you and be excited about growing in the relationship?"
The Motivation to Do the Work
I recently stumbled upon a Facebook post by Ken Blackman that beautifully summed up a completely different vantage point. The usual positions are acknowledgement of how difficult it is, tactical solutions or finger pointing that it’s not your job to get someone else to grow.
Ken begins by asking the following questions:
1. What’s motivating this?
2. What are the outcomes or changes you are hoping to see as a result of this “growth” and “doing the work”?
3. Will the relationship and/or their life be concretely better—for THEM—if they do?
4. In what ways, specifically?
5. Is that on their want list?
6. How strongly?
7. Enough to give up what they currently have to have it?
Once you’re clear about those answers you can be more realistic about whether your desire for them to ‘do the work’ is really about you or not.
Is this “work” about what you yearn for in a partner, your needs, your boundaries and your requirements in a partner? And, there is nothing wrong if you answered yes to all of those questions. However, try reframing your request to your partner about enrolling to do the work within those parameters by making it about you and not them.
Timing Your Request
After you have a more honest framing around what is motivating you to do some work with your partner, then comes timing your request. Often we tell and not ask our partners what we’d like them to do and sometimes it's in stressful contexts. Before approaching your partner ask yourself this question: Are you and your partner feeling centered - ie feeling balanced and not emotionally triggered? If the answer is no, until you both are.
Also with our partners we often take consent for granted. Let your partner know you have something you’d like to talk to them about that feels important to you. Follow that with asking them if now is a good time to talk about it. If it is not, then make a commitment with each other to speak about it at another designated time. By doing this simple thing you are far more likely to be heard by your partner, which will help with the success of your request landing.
Wanting to grow in your relationship with your partner is a beautiful thing. Whether your partner is willing to do the work or not, this should not prevent you from pursuing personal growth. Remember that when you do your own work and make changes to yourself you create new ripples of possibility for you both.
The Relationship Dojo - Courses for Couples, Blue Belt begins April, 15th. We’ll begin by taking a deep dive into the essentials of connection, communication and coming together. Click here to discover more.
Written by Jamie Lynn, Relationship & Intimacy Coach, Founder of Academy for Intimacy