How do you handle a bossy partner?

Who’s telling who what to do in this coupling?

Exercise more. Lower your voice. Spend more time with me. Everybody wants to tell you what to do — especially the person you are with. We have even read about Brad Pitt’s concern that Angelina Jolie isn’t eating enough. Does he get on her case at home? In a restaurant, does he turn into a bossy spouse? If your spouse or partner does, how can you stop the demands from making you feel like you are being controlled?

There are lots of things we are comfortable doing that  irritate our significant other, who has no qualms about voicing his or her frustrations. When your partner tells you what to do, the knee-jerk reaction is to get defensive. Faced with a mandate, you might either fight back or just shut down, keeping your anger on a low flame. Sometimes, the demands can even prompt you to do the opposite as a protest against being bossed around. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The next time your partner gives you an order — slow down when you drive, stop drinking soda, don’t smoke, be more affectionate — instead of feeling immediately angry and walking away, initiate a conversation. Ask why your loved one is concerned. What is your partner most worried about? Once he or she can share concerns about your driving speed (it’s for your safety), smoking habit (it’s for your health) or how much time you can give to the relationship (your partner wants to feel special), then you will be able to hear the love instead of the contempt that comes across in the bossy demands. With that, you might feel motivated to work together and even deal with some of the behaviors that may be causing you potential harm. If you are aware of the issues, explain that you understand and are already working on them.

So often we don’t hear our loved one’s real worries and needs because their concern comes through as criticism. The next time your partner tells you to do something, ask why he or she cares instead of tuning out and dismissing the comment. Instead of causing a fight, it might be an opportunity to better understand how much you are loved.

– Relationship expert Dr. Jane Greer is the creator of “Shrink Wrap” – national commentary on what we can learn from celebrity relationships – and host of “Let’s Talk Sex” at Healthylife.net. Her book, “What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship,” is available nationwide.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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