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While reading Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages, I made an amazing discovery albeit was buried under the traditional relationship jargon we are so accustomed too.
There is a distinct difference between requests and demands in relationships. Let me illustrate this point …
Wife: I’ve been telling you for weeks to fix that door. Are you ever going to fix it?
Husband: *looks around for the children in the room* Who are you talking to like that? I’m not one of the kids (or employees or workers or students)! I told you I would get to it.
Now surely you can imagine where the rest of this conversation goes…
Let’s change the script a bit and see if things change.
Wife: Honey, can you please make sure the door gets fixed soon? I am concerned that someone may get hurt because of it.
Husband: I’m sorry babe! I’ve been so pre-occupied with other things around the house, I completely forgot about the door. I’ll take care of it today.
These two scenarios illustrate the difference between requests (scenario #2) and demands (scenario #1). As people, we are blessed with the freedom of choice. Every day we wake up, we have the choice to do or not do everything in our life. A relationship is no different. It is simply two people choosing to love one another. When a person removes the freedom of choice, especially in relationships, it is expected their mate’s defenses will rise.
A simple request made to your mate is akin to offering them guidance on how to love and please you. They have the choice to oblige your request and experience the joy of seeing you happily satisfied. On the other hand, a demand is giving your mate an ultimatum. ‘Either you do what I’m telling you or you’re going to feel my wrath’. Not cool!
- Think before you speak. The old adage is true. Taking a few extra seconds to choose words can save hours of arguments and bickering.
- Watch your tone. My mother used to always tell me, “It’s not what you say but how you say it.” Anything said with a sarcastic or condescending tone instantly stings. The conversation just turned into a battlefield. Be careful!
- Pay attention and listen. When you truly hear and understand your spouse or significant other then you can actually respond appropriately.
- Don’t take EVERYTHING personal. This statement is directed at mostly the women. Sometimes men genuinely have a bad day at work and it has NOTHING to do with you. Assess the situation and use the previous three tips to determine if you are over reacting. If you are, step back and remind yourself ‘it’s not all about you.’
Until next time,
Have you learned what a difference requests and demands make in your relationship?