Relationship Advice Tips by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Like the berries and flowers relationships can look good but feel thorny when you are not in synch with one another!
photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Remember what it’s like when you keep asking your loved ones to be on time, to call you if they are going to be late, or just communicate about what their movements are going to be?
Do you end up dismissing each other and ending up in a tense atmosphere, each waiting for the other to make the first move to connect again?
Perhaps you have tried bargaining, seduction, providing incentives, anything and everything to get you both on the same page.
Have you given an ultimatum in total exasperation?
Research indicates that the emotions of fear and guilt dictate how you bargain and make offers European Journal of Social Psychology, 2010.
Ian’s mother promised to refrain from badmouthing his father and stepmother if he let her come to his house for Friday night dinner with his family. She wanted to be a part of her son’s life and maintain her connection with the grandchildren. She also wanted to get them to take her side and punish Ian’s father for his philandering behavior. She bargained with her son, willing to give up something very important to her – her anger and bitterness about her husband leaving her for his mistress whom he later married.
Fear drives you to offer incentives and be seductive
Ian’s mother acted out of fear of being rejected. It worked for a while until she couldn’t keep her bile and hatred quiet anymore. What she really wanted was to get Ian to feel sorry for her, shun his father and make her feel vindicated.
Bargains made out of fear are short lived.
They don’t last because like Ian’s mother the motives are self-serving. She didn’t really care about Ian’s feelings or concerns. She only agreed to give him what he wanted to get back into his family life and find a way of injecting her bitterness into their lives in the hope of turning them against Ian’s father.
Guilt may spur you to make a deal to get you off the hook, but only till the next time you are back on an even bigger hook!
Bobby offered to take Violet away on an Alaskan cruise after she threatened to leave him. He worked all the time as an ER doctor and appeared to be glad to get calls at all hours of the day and night, 365 days a year. He was riddled with guilt, but just couldn’t change his way of life. He bought the tickets, went shopping for the trip and made some time to watch DVD’s of the trip they were about to take.
Violet was appeased for a while. She felt that he cared enough to make an effort to be with her, away from the hospital. The trip was fun and the couple recaptured their romance and intimacy. But as soon as they returned, Bobby reverted to his old self- a doctor first, last and always – husband and lover in bursts when he fitted it in!
Guilt makes you forfeit something precious in order to keep the relationship going
If you bargain like Bobby out of guilt, the deal works for a limited time. As soon as the guilt is appeased things go back to the way they were. Tensions arise again until the guilt builds up into the next cycle of appeasement, relief and guilt again.
Bobby’s motives were self-serving. He wanted to get himself off the hook, not prove to Violet that she was important. He wanted to calm her down just enough to keep the status quo, rather than care for her in ways that she needed and deserved.
Bobby allowed his stress to build up. Violet’s stress went up and down like a yo-yo not knowing when to believe and trust in her husband.
The whole relationship was based on short term fixes, aiming to get rid of bad feelings for the moment. The result was long term stress and big huge tears in the relationship that may get bigger.
How to bargain and compromise in ways that last
So next time you bargain with your loved ones or they bargain with you, make sure you are fully in touch with the true motives on each side. Talk about what you both truly want without mistrusting your loved ones from the get go. Try to understand what your loved ones need and want, and share your needs. That’s when true and lasting compromises can be forged.
Be like the guava, remove your outer protective skin and share your true self!
photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have while reading the article or implementing the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.