What Do You Do If Your Partner Screws Up?
How do you address your concerns and feelings in a empowering, clear way that can actually bring more trust and love to your connection?
Join Cathy Vartuli from http://TheIntimacyDojo.com and sex and relationship expert Reid Mihalko from http://ReidAboutSex.com for the answers to this and more!
Cathy: Welcome, everyone. This is Cathy Vartuli from http://TheIntimacyDojo.com, and this is Reid Mihalko from http://ReidAboutSex.com. We have another video where we talked about what to do if you screw up, and we’re asking now: What do you do if your partner screws up? How do you bring that up in an open way where they don’t feel defensive and they don’t shut down too much, and you still get to the other side of it?
Reid: Make sure you watch the first video because none of my jokes will make sense if you haven’t watched it! So what do you do if the other person screws up?
The first thing – and this is useful for any kind of scenario – is understanding that most people, including yourself, probably don’t handle new information well, or surprises really well right at first, especially around screwups. So when your partner or your friend or your boss, or whoever, when they screw up, the first thing is just to recognize that you’re probably not handling it well.
You’re like, “Wow – look at me, freaking out!” or “Look at me, feeling enraged!” or unfairly treated, or whatever that is. Get a lock on that, because that will often help you stay in your body and start to interrupt your pattern.
Cathy: Yeah, if you’re beating yourself up or blaming yourself or trying to shut it down, it’s going to come out sideways.
Reid: Yeah. So get a grip on that. The next thing to do is thank your partner for sharing or for telling you in the first place, because Lord knows how many people have had people not tell us things for months or weeks or whatever. Sometimes you can flip those two.
You know, when somebody gives you bad information, you immediately thank them. Because what it does is it gets you to use your brain a little bit. “Oh, wait…I’m thanking him for bringing us bad news. I’m not supposed to be so upset?”
And that’s really useful. So figure out which one works better for you and then stick to that routine. Because what you don’t want to do is flip out and basically take a bigger bucket of muck and toss it on the fan that is now spewing their shit!
The shit has hit the fan, and you’re going to be like, “Oh yeah? Well, here’s MY bucket…RAAARGHHH!” You don’t want to do that. So thank them and get a lock on yourself that you’re having an emotional reaction to new information. Breathe. And then what I do is, I try to get as clear as I can what my concerns are. What are my fears and concerns? What are my needs? And then, what is my request?
Reid: The other thing that does is, it keeps me in my “thinking head.” It’s not that you’re trying to shut down your emotive body and push that stuff down, but basically if you’re giving me bad information right now, it really helps me figure out, to assess the situation.
What are my concerns? What are my needs? What is my request? And then if it’s like, well, okay, I can wait a minute – if it’s not a life-or-death situation – then I can have my emotive freak-out or whatever I need to do, and then get back to the situation.
Cathy: But if you’re looking for solutions, your subconscious brain doesn’t feel so disempowered and frightened. Your solution, or your request, is “Are there things I could do differently in the future?” and you feel more empowered.
Reid: And some people don’t work well going into fix-it mode immediately, so that’s why I do “concerns, needs, then requests” rather than “we must fix this situation.” So once you figure out what your concerns or fears are, get a lock on that.
What your needs are, get a lock on that. And then you voice them. You can voice all three. So, in our example from the last video, bonehead me left our kid at the store and I can’t remember which store it was. I forgot my kid was with me, and I’m telling my partner I don’t have our kid. So if you did that to me, first I’d be like, “Okay,” [takes deep breath] and say “Thank you so much for telling me!”
Reid: [takes two deep breaths] “The fruit of my loins is somewhere in the city. [takes deep breath] Okay, what are my concerns? My son is already dead…”
Cathy: Yes, you’d be really frightened.
Reid: Yes. “…or mentally scarred, or being taken advantage of by some nefarious character. We will never find him or her. They will be mentally handicapped for the rest of their life by this traumatic experience. I will go to jail because I’m about to kill you for being such a bonehead, and I will never be able to trust you again.” Those are my concerns and fears. My needs is, I need you to find my freakin’ son. I need to feel like I am somehow taking action and empowered in the situation which I did not create. I eventually need to locate our child and make they’re well and then I need you to apologize and I need to know from you somehow I can count on you that this will not happen again. I need some sure of reassurance and that’s going to be up to you to figure that out. And then by vocalizing those things, now that I’ve got into my request, I might, “oh! So my request is, you’re going to apologize a lot to be later but we’re going to call 911 and trace your states, I wanted to see your receipts, I wanted to know which stores you’re at and we’re going to figure this out and I need let that to happen now.
Cathy: Yes. And if you’re on the receiving into that, if you could have space for them to feel and share what they want to feel without blaming or’you left him in the store last week and you’re aren’t perfect either, it’s crazy.
Reid: Oh yeah! Release out of the mall. You left it at the flea market.
Cathy: It’s really easy for us to get the blame and bring up things from 10 years ago and trying to justify when if you can just have space for the other person, it deescalates the situation and gets to resolution a lot faster.
Reid: Yup. There you go. Like go find my kid.