Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who Do You Own?

I imagine the immediate answer to this question is, "No one," as the idea of owning another person is repugnant.  But not so repugnant that it doesn't come up frequently in relationships.  Many couples practice ownership of their partner. That is, they think it's their right to tell their partner what do do.  Not suggest or discuss but  tell.  Wear this, eat that. Clean, repair, spend as I direct.  More subtly, the owner may give the partner life lessons such as how to respond in various situations, whom to chose as friends, what taste to acquire.  The owner may come off as bossy or quietly superior but the reasons for ownership usually are: I'm doing it for the other's own good. I love____and I know more about somethings than she does.  I'm not going to stand by and watch him destroy his life. My well being is affected by her behaviors so I have a right to try and change them.

 Everyone knows you can't fix another but if you practice ownership you are a fixer.  The fixer holds a superior position, the fixee inferior.  Demanding and blaming are actions of an owner.  Requesting and explaining are actions of a partner.   Trying to own your partner isn't  going to change anything.  Try giving up the idea and, most importantly, the feeling, that you own another and see if over time the dialog (also know as  fights) doesn't change. And remember, in this world you don't get everything you want.

Below is an excerpt from our new book  LIES, Chapter 20: Managing Dislike, p.76

People can destroy relationships because they must have their say.  Like all of us, they have heard the most common piece of relationship advice: you cannot change another.  Nevertheless, they cannot resist trying. Their partner is clearly in the wrong. Hurtful words are blurted out or a soft approach is tried. Either way it's criticism and if it happens often, the relationship will suffer.  The criticism rarely feels like it's for your own good or the good of the relationship.  It feels more like the critic is taking care of him/herself, unloading dislike in the name of being open and honest.  And while the critic may feel relief and self-righteous, the one criticized feels beaten up.

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