Having spent many years working in customer service before starting my career as a therapist, I have long been aware of the idea of turning complaints into requests, or as it was usually put, into opportunities to build relationships. Essentially, by responding to a customer’s complaint with understanding and actively seeking out a solution you turn that interaction around. They go from having a negative experience to having one that they will be glad to report to their friends and family while singing your praises.
What does this have to do with relationships? I would argue that just as a complaint from a customer is actually a request in disguise, the same holds true for relationships. Whether the parties involved are friends, relatives, or lovers when someone is complaining about YOU what they are really doing is making a request. Of course, when someone is complaining about you the likelihood that you will hear their complaint as a request is pretty minimal. Instead, you’re more likely to feel attacked and either counterattack that person or retreat (physically or emotionally) to avoid their “attack”.
But, I hear you saying, she ALWAYS leaves her toenail clippings on the bathroom counter and she knows I hate that. Don’t I have the right to complain?! Well, sure. It’s perfectly understandable that we become irritated with others from time to time because of things they do that annoy us. But ask yourself this, do you want the person to know that you’re annoyed or do you want them to behave differently? If you want them to become recalcitrant and you want them to remind you about the things that you do which annoy them, then by all means complain away. If you want them to listen to what you’re saying and entertain your point of view, then you will fare much better making a request.
Does that mean I can never complain about anything, you might wonder? There’s a song from the 1960’s by The Byrds called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and it says that there is a time for everything. If your boss really got under your skin today and you would like to complain about it to your partner I think that is a wonderful idea. Relationships are supposed to be buffers from stress and one of the ways it works is your partner provides a safe place to share your frustration. However, if your partner does something that bothers you, instead of complaining, take a moment and rephrase the complaint in your mind as a request and then present the request to your partner. I think that you will find they are much more receptive to your request than they will be to a complaint. This doesn’t just apply to your partner however; this applies to anyone in your life that you have a relationship with.
What about on the other end of things? If your partner is complaining about something that you have done, can you pause and try to figure out what the request is behind their complaint? This can be a difficult task but doing so might stave off conflict and help build your relationship. First, you’ll need to ignore that gut reaction which tells you to point out what they have done that you don’t like, thereby launching your own complaint right back at them. Or maybe for you in that moment you just want to tune them out and get away from the situation. Either response does not address the underlying issue and leads your partner to feel that they have gone unheard. Instead, acknowledge what your partner has said by rephrasing and checking that you understand what they meant. Notice, you are not necessarily saying that you agree at this point, you are simply checking that you have understood. Next, ask your partner what they would like you to do differently. Again, repeat back to them what they have said and make sure that your understanding matches their intention. From here you can either agree to try and fill your partners request, or you can discuss your thoughts and feelings about the request if you do not fully agree. Whatever the outcome, I’m sure you can see how this will leave both people feeling much better than doing things the old way of complaining, having an argument, then not speaking about it until it comes up again as a complaint.
For more information about turning complaints into requests click here.
If you would like to work on improving your relationships give me a call at (706) 534-8558 or e-mail me at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com to discuss setting up an initial appointment.
We’ve all seen those “click bait” links on the side of an article, or as we’re scrolling through social media. There really is a “weird trick” that you can try if you want to improve the frequency of love making. This applies if you’re married or in a long-term relationship, if you’re a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple. I will say, because of social scripts that tell us how a man and woman are to behave in a heterosexual marriage, this may be more of an issue for those types of relationships. Hopefully you’ll understand once I reveal the “weird trick”.
So, what turns men and women in long term relationships off in the United States? Per a 2013 study “Both women (49 percent) and men (37 percent) say stress causes them to lose their desire for sex more than anything else. Other top distractors include exhaustion for women (46 percent) and having an argument with their spouse for men (29 percent). A third of women and a fifth of men say lack of romance is a factor, too.” Put a pin in that because we’re going to come back to it.
I have some GREAT news for you. Guys, do I have your attention? Ladies, you listen up too. Throw away that bottle of cologne with pheromones, you don’t need to buy two dozen roses, and don’t even think about that “aphrodisiac” you saw in the bathroom vending machine of the service station. You likely already have all the ingredients you need to brew up a homemade aphrodisiac. It can be sort of messy so guys you should probably put on some gloves, safety goggles could come in handy, and an apron wouldn’t hurt. Ladies, change into your most comfortable around the house clothes, maybe pour a glass of wine.
Now listen up because here’s the “one weird trick”. Guys, I want you to go into the kitchen and run a sinkful of HOT, soapy water. Pay attention because this next step is key! You have a sinkful of hot, soapy water? Grab a sponge, a brush, or some similar cleaning implement and I want you to wash the dishes. Bonus points for drying them and putting them away. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? The next step is important too. I want you to grab a broom or a vacuum cleaner and clean the floor. If you’re up for a challenge and you really want to seal the deal throw some laundry on before you start the dishes. Are you getting turned on yet guys? No? That’s okay, you’re not supposed to be aroused by cleaning the house. But your partner? Well she might want to rip that apron right off you.
According to numerous studies cited by AARP.ORG, the more housework men do the more sex they have. And that’s the “one weird trick”. Remember earlier we learned that stress and exhaustion are major turn offs for women. By pitching in and taking on some of those household chores you are allowing your partner to relax. If you have children and you help with the kids she may have time to switch from mom mode to sexy wife mode (as opposed to bathing the kids, putting them to bed, and then being expected to immediately feel like having sex). Further, it shows her that you respect her and appreciate her.
We’re asking men to pitch in and do some of the household chores. What about women, what role can you play in this? Speak up and let your partner know what you need help with. There is a video on social media about the “magic table” that takes care of things whenever this husband leaves his things there. He leaves dirty dishes and they “magically” take themselves into the kitchen and get washed. The basket of laundry he left on the table? It “magically” folded itself and puts itself away. The video is jesting about it but I suspect many men take for granted what the women in their lives do for them and the whole household. Women, don’t let them take you for granted.
Of course, all of this centers around good communication, whether that means letting your spouse know that you would like to have sex more often, or you would like to come home and prop your feet up while someone else cooks dinner. Then, if your request is met, show appreciation and gratitude so that your partner is encouraged to keep doing it.
Want to know how your sex life is going? Fill out this quiz and ask your partner to fill it out separately. Then call me to set up an appointment if you have some issues you’d like to work on.
Aaron Kirkwood, LAMFT
(706) 534 – 8558
We at Counseling Associates for Well-being value our ability to provide a much needed service to the individuals in our community. Part of that commitment includes offering reduced fee services. I wanted to take some time to let people know that this is an option and what it means.
- Who qualifies for reduced fee services? There is not strict requirement for reduced fee services. We offer a reduced fee to those that have a financial need, and cannot pay the regular full fee. We do not ask for proof of income or some similar qualifier. This is a confidential determination made between client and therapist.
- What is the reduced fee? There is not one set reduced fee. Rather, an agreement is reached between client and therapist about what is affordable to the client but fair to the therapist.
- Do I get the same services as everyone else? Absolutely! You will see your therapist for a full 1-hour session just like anyone else. Your level of care will be on par with clients who pay using private insurance or who pay the full fee.
- If I have insurance can I still see a therapist for a reduced fee? There are various reasons that people with health insurance choose not to use it to pay for services. Some people have a very high deductible and would have to pay full fee until that deductible is met. If your deductible is $10,000 you’re unlikely to meet that deductible until the 6th Tuesday in Neveruary. Health insurance providers require a diagnosis in order to pay for services and some people prefer not to have a diagnosis on their permanent health record. If, for any reason, you choose not to use your health insurance and cannot afford to pay full fee for services you are welcome to make use of our reduced fee services. Health insurance may not cover your issue if you’re looking for couples or family counseling anyway. We are happy to offer those services, in addition to individual therapy, at a reduced fee as well.
- Who would I see in your practice? Currently I have spaces available for clients who need a reduced fee. Please view my information on our website or at Psychology Today to see if you feel that my services would be a good match for you.
If you’ve been feeling that therapy would be beneficial for you but weren’t sure you could afford it, please give me a call today. If you know someone who might benefit from seeing a therapist but may not be able to pay a full fee for services, please pass along my information. You can reach me by phone at (706) 534 – 8558 or e-mail me at Aaron@ca4wellbeing.com