Do the words “I want” work for you? If the answer to that is “yes, I get what I want“ then you have failed the Aunty Thankful test. If your answer is “no, I don’t get what I want” then you have also failed the Aunty Thankful test. If your answer is “sometimes I get my way, others I don’t” then, well you can probably guess, you have failed the Aunty Thankful test.
You see my little princesses, the Aunty Thankful approach to saying “I want” is that my heart is not really that attached to the result. I am saying what I want to ensure I have expressed myself, because I do not want to be powerless. I have told my husband what I want so that he knows what want, which helps him know how to make me happy – everything is out in the open and no mind reading is required. Finally I have opened the door to negotiation, he knows what I want but doesn’t want to meet my desires exactly – is there a compromise?
It is empowering to express your desires in an open and honest way and surrendered to leave the outcome to your husband and intelligent to compromise. Your relationship gets better, unless….
Well unless you are determined to get your own way, but are using the words “I want…” to disguise it. “I want you to take me to the ballet, I just loved dancing when I was a little girl!” versus “I want you to take me to the ballet, the tickets are on the shelf by the front door”. If you are trying to cover your usual controlling behaviour with a veneer of surrendering then your relationship will be exactly the same.
Or perhaps you are using the words “I want” the same way a toddler says “I want a chocolate”, you follow up with a tantrum when the answer is “NO!”. I don’t mean that you scream and cry on the kitchen floor, maybe you sulk instead. You say “I want to visit Mum with you, she says she is lonely and I miss her” to which he replies “sorry darling, but I already have plans for the next few nights” and that’s it – the dark cloud descends and you pout, suddenly you just can’t be nice to him and your relationship is sliding downhill.
And a final word of warning. You are within your rights to take ownership of some decisions and if you have already mentally taken ownership of something then don’t go through the whole “I want” palava. For example when my kids were little I took ownership of their bedtimes. Over the age of six my children were more flexible, but before then a late bedtime meant tantrums and tears for the whole of the following day. Tantrums and tears I alone had to manage and cope with. “It is time for him to go to bed now, give daddy a goodnight kiss and off we go!” was superior at this point to “I want to put Johnny in bed now, can I take him please?” (a no answer would have me fuming). Personally I take ownership of decisions where my own long term happiness and lifestyle are being dictated – hiring a cleaning lady, owning a car, home-schooling the kids – all big decisions that will change my life completely but don‘t infringe on the rights of anyone else.
So now if I ask “Do the words ‘I want’ work for you?” you can reply “of course they do, they have opened a whole new door of communication, I can voice my desires and my husband doesn’t feel controlled, he knows what I want and the door of negotiation is opened.” Whether you get what you want is not really such a big deal compared to that is it?