Walt and I have been conducting our 6-week Master Class, Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet. It’s all about getting clear on and committed to your goals, setting defined limits, establishing proven practices, taking consistent action, and continually reviewing what works, so you don’t give up when you hit the first speed bump along your path to glory. We got a great question last week: What do you do when your partner isn’t supportive of your goals?
We often talk about how difficult it would be if we weren’t on the same page, if we weren’t driving forward on some very similar goals. This isn’t our first rodeo; Walt and I have both been married before, so we get the resistance that can crop up when one threatens to upturn a partner’s applecart.
We’ve often commented, after attending a life-changing conference together, how difficult it would be for folks who were there without their partner to share their transformation, their shift in paradigm, and their new associated goals with the one left at home.
To someone who has no idea what you’re talking about, who is impatient for life to go back to the way it was pre-conference, talk of weekly family colonics, giving up coffee in favor of wheatgrass shots, or sharing your unearthed rage with your elderly parents, right away, sounds like some whacky Kool-aid drinking shit. Is it any wonder he/she lacks enthusiasm?
The same goes for folks who come back home after a major mountaineering expedition. Nothing is the same after the enormous effort, the near misses, the tight bonds formed with total strangers, the questioning of purpose; and the people waiting for your return tend to resent the attendant changes. Then they TOTALLY decompensate because, after accomplishing your disruptive goal, there you go talking about going back for more.
Change in one partner can be very threatening to the other. Human beings tend to like predictability. We like to know that we can switch on autopilot and go through our day without having to think too hard. We don’t want to change our diet, our attitude, or our routine. We don’t want to devote time, money, or energy to some activity or project we see no direct benefit from. In other words, we don’t want to have to try. At all.
I’ll give you an example. When I want to lose weight, Walt can get a little squirrely because he loves to go out to dinner with poor undisciplined me ALL THE FREAKING TIME. He’s really big into cocktail hour whenever we’re in Ireland, the culprit I hold responsible for my much larger butt. These two hallowed activities come under a direct threat when I start talking about actions I plan to take. The dude doesn’t want to eat leafy green vegetables at home 15 times a week, which is how things would go if I had it my way. (Not that I’m all-or-nothing, or anything.) Nor does he wish to replace the Brie and Argentine Malbec with carrot sticks and seltzer, which I think is a very reasonable compromise. Especially if we listen to relaxing music.
But here’s how I manage Walt’s squirrels: I sell the man on the benefits. What does he stand to gain if I follow a regimen and drop the lard? He gets to be around someone who isn’t tugging at her shirt because of the kitty belly. He gets to enjoy the stripper dresses he buys for me in bulk, the ones I can’t currently fit into. He is the DIRECT recipient of my body confidence in the bedroom, which is currently compromised by my intense prejudice against mirrors and light bulbs. Wink Wink.
We’re talking selling ice to very thirsty rich people, not eskimos.
The trick is to be really honest about your desires AND fears; yours, and your partners’.
This involves conversation. And the conversations aren’t always comfortable.
If you really want to accomplish something, and your partner doesn’t buy in, you’ve got the set up for two possible scenarios, neither of them good:
1. You don’t do what you most want to do and resent the ever-living crap out of your partner.
2. Your partner throws obstacles at you from right and left, either actively, or passive aggressively. Which leads to the same result: Resentment.
Your biggest weapon, if you want to call it that, is your WHY. If you’re not clear on your WHY, if you can’t lay out the benefits of accomplishing this goal, and the pain you stand to suffer if you don’t, your partner can’t be expected to understand, or to support you. You sound wobbly, half-hearted. Whimsical shit, particularly the inconvenient variety, is easy to dismiss with a wave.
Get clear. Come to the discussion table with your objectives, as well as the benefits, and be honest. Hit the objections head on, before they are ever broached by your dubious partner.
Coming from experience, here’s why you may throw up your hands and give in before you even begin. If your partner refuses to buy into your goals, to support you, it is quite possible that you’ve got the type of friction that can only be addressed in marriage counseling. And that can be an even scarier thing to face.