Corrina Gordon-Barnes answers the question of how to deal with frustration and irritation with your partner who’s not helping you with a new habit.
Q: I feel hurt and frustrated with my fiancé. I’m desperately trying to change a habit and get to bed earlier, but when I start making a move upstairs just before 10pm, he complains and looks grumpy.
This is a really difficult habit to change and I want him to support me. Right now, it feels like he’s working against me, not on my side. I want him to care about me enough to make it easier for me to make this change.
A: This is a really challenging situation. Changing a habit means moving beyond the status quo. This can take tremendous effort; it’s understandable to feel demoralised when your nearest and dearest seems to add yet more resistance to try and move beyond.
Habit change can feel nearly impossible – but there is a way to achieve what you’ve committed to and not carry resentment at your partner. Here’s how.
Consider WHY your fiancé complains.
Why doesn’t he want you to go bed at a healthy hour?
There’s a good chance it’s because he wants you to be near him – because he enjoys your company or likes physical closeness in the evenings.
See if you can find the positive intent behind his complaint.
Would you prefer the opposite – if he couldn’t care less whether you were with him or not?
Your ideal scenario is probably that your fiancé loves being near you and also wants to support your new habit so he would choose to come to bed early too.
While that scenario would be wonderful, when you’re thinking this way, you’re in a realm you have no control over.
You can’t make him think, feel or act differently – that’s all within his control.
Arguing mentally against what’s happening and fantasising about how he should be only causes you stress and frustration.
We are in our child-self when we argue against reality; seeing ourselves as a victim of someone else’s decisions is a disempowering place to live from.
The key is to accept reality because you can then communicate and make requests from that place. What’s the reality?
Your fiancé doesn’t want to go to bed yet and he’d prefer for you to be near him.
Once you’ve acknowledged this internally, you can then speak with him from this calm, adult-self foundation.
You might say something like:
“I’ve made a commitment to myself to get to bed by 10pm each night and my preference is that you come with me. I love chatting / snuggling / making love with you. I also get that you’re not tired yet and I’m really touched that you’d prefer me to be near you. If it doesn’t work for you to come to bed now, I understand that and I look forward to spending time with you again tomorrow.”
When you communicate in this way, you’re honouring your commitment to yourself.
From this foundation of standing up for yourself, you’re then inviting your beloved to join you in that commitment – but it’s a request, not a demand.
It’s a statement of your preference, not an insistence that he shows up a certain way. You’re not wrong in your preference – and nor is he, so when you speak with him, don’t make him wrong.
Look at it this way: Your fiancé represents the part within yourself that doesn’t want to change this habit.
You can come into intimacy with him by acknowledging this: “I really identify with that look of disapproval on your face.
There’s definitely a part of me that doesn’t want me to go to bed earlier!” This truth-telling creates connection and the feeling of being on the same team.
You can do this.
Recall the times when you’ve changed a habit without someone else’s support and shore up your self-belief with these memories.
Once you find confidence in yourself that you have what it takes to change this habit, you’re no longer feel dependent on support that’s outside your control – and then any support you do receive is a wonderful bonus.