Train your partner to be perfect, just like you! A therapist's perspective

Author: Canadian Living


Train your partner to be perfect, just like you! A therapist's perspective

From folding clothes to cutting grass, arguments between couples can arise over the “right” way to do things with one person claiming authority. On the one hand, it is natural to want our partner to do things like us because our way is comfortable and makes sense to us. On the other hand, a constant demand for doing things our way can lead to resentment, conflict, and unwillingness by our partner to do any task. 

Individuals who have lived alone for periods of time and have established ways of doing things may be more susceptible to the tendency to train and more resistant to being trained. Likewise, those with rigid ideas for how things should be done may fall prey to wanting their partner to do things like them. 

We aren't clones
As the title implies, the desire to train your partner to be perfect is more about wanting them to be like you and do things your way. But we are not clones of each other. That would make for a boring relationship! 

It is important to recognize that different ways of doing things are not wrong, just different. It is equally important to recognize that our partner’s way of doing things makes sense to them. The old saying, “not seeing the forest for the trees” applies to this situation. Couples can become so embroiled in the small details of the everyday they risk ignoring larger and more important issues such as parenting and money management.

Are you a power player?
The first step in dealing with this problem is to ask yourself why you want your partner to do things your way. What is behind this need? Often it is about power and control in the relationship. Once you recognize this is what you are dealing with, you need to cease micromanaging your partner and allow them the room to accomplish the task their way. This involves a shift from power and control to cooperation and collaboration.

Page 1 of 2Negotiate finishing tasks
Couples then need to negotiate completion of tasks. This may mean separating ownership of chores and giving your partner the freedom to complete the chore minus the “helpful” suggestions. 

But do not be fooled – learning to bite your tongue takes time and can be hard on your tongue!  Along with negotiation comes compromise. If you request a task be completed in a certain manner from your partner, be open to accepting their suggestions for you.

Here are 5 tips to stop yourself from "training"

1. Recognize the little voice in your head which says “they are not doing it right.”

2. Shift youself from the need to power and control to cooperation and collaboration.  

3. Do not lose sight of the big picture – there are more important things in your relationship than folding clothes the right way.

4. Focus more on the fact that your partner is willing to help instead of how they help.

5. Remember that too much training on your part may lead to you doing most of the work!

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Lea Tufford, M.A. is a registered marriage and family therapist who maintains a private practice in Georgetown, Ontario.


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Train your partner to be perfect, just like you! A therapist's perspective