Being in control
Kevin: “Make sure you line up the glasses in the dishwasher. You get more in and save water!”
Darlene (Gritting her teeth): “I have more important things to think about than squeezing in every last dish!”
Kevin: “It just takes a second and the dishes get cleaner. Make sure the plates face the front of–”
Darlene (Stomps off)
The dishwasher loading then evolves into an emotional outburst. After Kevin and Darlene calm down, they may ask themselves, “What was that all about? Why did such a simple thing develop into a major conflict?”
The Road to Power Snuggling
What is happening with Kevin and Darlene is not uncommon. Each believes they are right and they are both correct because their goals are different. He tries to get the last fork in. She breathes a sigh of relief just to finish the job.
What is really occurring has nothing to do with dishwasher loading. It is a power struggle where neither wants to be controlled by the other. Kevin and Darlene are speaking to each other with the analytical part of their brain. However, it is their powerful emotional brain (housed in the brain’s limbic system) that says to them: “Uh-oh! This is dangerous! I am being controlled by my partner and my desires are completely ignored!”
Being in control is essential to everyone. We feel we lose part of ourselves when we are told how to do something that we know we can do.
What’s the solution?
First, Realize that this is a control issue, not an analytical problem.
Second, Acknowledge each other’s desires. For example:
– Darlene: Kevin I understand you want to save energy and have clean dishes.
– Kevin: I understand you have other things on your mind and putting in a few extra dishes is not important to you.
Third, Find a solution that allows both partners to stay in control. This might mean agreeing that the person loading does it their way. Frequently, the labor is divided so that one person cooks and the other washes the dishes.
Relationships are too valuable to destroy over dishwasher loading or many other “mole hills” that become mountains to climb.
Your weekly homework
With dishwasher loading or other similar chores, validate each other’s point of view. Then develop a plan that allows the person performing the chore to have full control carrying it out