By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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An American myth is that you can't ask our partner to change. Perhaps what is more accurate, is that you can't be anyone but yourselves. And you can ask for change from your partner that is for the GOOD OF THE RELATIONSHIP. You have to be very careful because it can be difficult at times to know what's good for the relationship vs. what I want.
The other factor that makes this tricky is that you have to accept your partner "as is." When you do, you both have the ability to grow and change because you are accepted.
The risk of course, is that you are vulnerable in asking for what you need, and your partner may say no. However, he or she may say yes.
For example, asking your partner to spend 20 minutes debriefing and connecting each day (as Dr. John Gottman recommends) is clearly good for the relationship. Your goal in this specific activity is to listen well, be emotionally present for your partner, and respond in a way that meets your partner's need (i.e., listen quietly and nod, say "mmhmm" a few times, or ask questions if that's what s/he prefers).
Asking your partner to cut out an activity that nurtures the soul in some way (even if it's football), isn't necessarily good for the relationship.
Think about your request: is there an underlying issue you're trying to get at? If so, be transparent and state that instead: it will build trust with your partner. Is your request a backwards way of saying a "you" statement (you never pay attention to me, you never leave me alone)?
Be clean and clear in your request. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Breathe, and go slowly in your conversation.
You may or may not get your request granted. Experiment. Experiment more than once; you can be in a certain mood in one moment, and feel differently later.
My motto is "If you don't ask, they can't say yes!"