What if They Don’t Want To?

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When people approach me to do coaching (or come to a workshop) because they want a more satisfying partnership relationship, one of the first concerns I hear is, “What if my partner won’t come?”  

My answer has always been, “It isn’t necessary.”  Creating a satisfying relationship —if you want one, is your job.”  That response is usually met with disbelief, and the relationship remains the same.

I’d like to elucidate the reasons my opinion remains the same.  If you want to change the relationship you are in, all that is required is self-awareness, communication skills, empathy, with a bit of trust and courage mixed in.  

Often because we are so deeply immersed in the belief that the other person is the cause of our distress and we want to hold them responsible, we forget how much power we actually have in our own lives.   It is the flip side of “happily ever after”, meaning we think the other person is responsible for our happiness.  In both cases we are falsely handing over our autonomy and power to another —and it isn’t theirs to accept.


If you are in a relationship that you are not enjoying, it is imperative for you to understand what needs you are attempting to meet from being in that relationship, which needs are being met and which ones are not.  No one else is required to be present to make that self-inquiry.  

Once you gather that information you will be able to make decisions and choices that serve you in getting those needs met more effectively.  As you likely know if you read my blogs, these are called strategies.  

Your strategies may, indeed, include making requests of your significant other.  Likely they do.  Also likely I would hear in a coaching situation or class, that you have asked many times, over and over and they are just not responding.

Okay, my first two thoughts when I hear this are…

1.  I am guessing you haven’t really asked in a way that offers a choice for your partner to say yes or no.  And if they replied with a no, they have become the problem.  Which begins the ongoing battle of trying to get your partner to do what you want.  You ask nicely (hah!), make demands, cry, yell, get quiet, get resigned and ultimately resentful.  

2.  If your partner doesn’t want to contribute to your life in a way that you find delightful, so much so that you are unsatisfied with your relationship, why are you still in it?

I ask this question because I actually want to hear the answer.  I actually want you to know the answer.  If you want to have a super-satisfying relationship it requires a bit of courage to ask yourself this question.  For a great many reasons, becoming responsible for our own happiness tends to freak us out.  It seems just so much easier to insist the other person change their ways.

It just usually doesn’t work out.  

If you are less than happy and your ‘other person’ doesn’t want to come to coaching, go to a workshop, read a book with you, is satisfied with how things are going and ultimately doesn’t want to contribute to your life in ways that feel good, then you have some choices to make.  Possibly difficult ones. 

One more thing —and you might actually like reading this!  There is much (very much) you can do on your own that might make (some of) the shifts you are hoping for inside your relationship without your partner’s specific participation.  Relax!  Before you say, “Why do I have to be the one to….(fill in the blank)?”, remember you are the one that wants the relationship to be better, and that is why.  

This is where trust comes in.  Do you trust yourself enough to make the choices that you think will lead to a more satisfying life and/or relationship? That’s the actual work, and while it might be easier if your partner person would just do all the things you hope for, if they aren’t it is important to accept what is so, feel your feelings about the situation, and then choose confidently what other, strategies might be more effective in manifesting more of what you want.