How to ask your spouse for a change in behavior.

If there is a behavior that your spouse does that you find frustrating you may ask for them to change that behavior. You can ask, and of course, it is up to them to decide to work on that.

How you ask can make all the difference. Your relationship up to that point matters. If you have a close and loving relationship of doing for each other, then asking may be easier. If you have been complaining and criticizing a lot recently, it may not yet be the time for such a behavior change request.

Choose one behavior you want changed. Not all of your change requests are equal. Some are very important to you, some less so. If you make a litany of requests, your spouse won’t know which you really want and which are hopes or dreams. And they may tune them all out as ‘noise’.

It may be worthwhile to see if there is a common thread to your list of requests. Arguing with family members and taking risks with large amounts of money may both be examples of impulsivity.

Some wording you might use in this request:
-“Can I share something that has been on my mind?” –> Asking permission sets a more relaxed tone.
-“When you do [X], I feel [your emotion].” –> Using “I statements” helps you take responsibility for your feelings rather than blaming and criticizing. Include your underlying need in this statement.
– “I want [the new behavior].” –> Phrase your request in positive words. Be specific – what it is that you do want, rather than what you want to stop happening. Be reasonable; only request something that is actually doable.

FOR MORE about behavior change requests: https://www.adaiad.org/slatkin-change

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