How you communicate your message makes a big difference. Communicating clearly and offering solutions is much more likely to elicit a positive response from your partner. Learning how to communicate what you can do, not what you cannot, is likely to be much more helpful in your marriage.
Serena and Roy often argued about how to spend their time. Serena worked from home but felt as though Roy treated her more like she didn’t work at all. One day Roy asked her to run a few errands for him and she responded by saying, “I don’t have time for all these things. Don’t you know I have a lot of work to do?” This led to an argument between them about who has more to do and the problem was left unresolved.
Serena could have offered what she could do. An example may be, “I can use my one hour lunch break to run a few errands. Give me a list of which ones are most important and I’ll see what I can do.” Roy would have been able to decide what was most important and it would be his responsibility to decide how to get other things done. It may have avoided an argument and instead led to a discussion where they could problem-solve together.
If you cannot meet your partner’s requests or do not want to, simply decide what it is that you can do and make this clear. Leave out your complaints and personal attacks. Instead, focus on a solution.
This may require you to censor yourself if your immediate reaction usually leads to explaining why you can’t do something. When your partner asks you to do something, take a deep breath and stop and think prior to speaking. There may be times that you have to tell your partner to give you a few minutes to think about it before you have an answer. Perhaps you need to check your schedule, view the budget, or determine your options. Taking time to think is much better than offering a negative response that is likely to lead to a disagreement.