Seven Tips on Dealing with an Uncooperative Spouse
This article offers advice on how to best cope when your spouse is always uncooperative.
Uncooperative people are everywhere. They are found in the workplace, the neighborhood, and sometimes inside the house that you live in. When the uncooperative person is your spouse, it can amplify the difficulty and multiple the chances of a bad outcome. A lack of cooperation in a spouse is usually how they work to control you. Learning to deal with an uncooperative spouse may not always be possible, but here is a list of seven considerations that should help most situations.
Use a reward system.
Getting cooperation from a spouse may turn out to be a matter of training. This may sound a little manipulative, but uncooperative spouses are usually great manipulators themselves. Everyone has something that hits their hot button. In a marriage, most partners know at least a few things that their spouse really enjoys or wants. Use it to help the person want to cooperate in order to receive the reward. It is best to use this sparingly. Intermittent rewards create the strongest and most enduring conditioned responses. Rewards should always be given after the desired behavior is completed.
Avoid automatically giving in.
It is always tempting just to give in and not push for a desired outcome. Appeasement seldom works in the long run. You will find yourself becoming frustrated because you never get to do what you want to do. You always go along with your spouse and endure the outcome. Stand your ground if you truly believe that you are not being unreasonable in your desires. You may not get what you want, but neither will your spouse. This method is painful until it starts to dawn on your spouse that you are not going to relent like you always have before. Generally, the end more than justifies the means in this case.
Always offer alternatives.
Prepare a list of choices that you find acceptable. Compel your spouse to choose something from the list. The truly uncooperative response will be to say, “You pick, and I’ll go along.” You may recognize this phrase from some previous choice that you have made and regretted. Make your spouse choose. The person may be picking the “lesser of two evils,” but it will be his or her choice. Later if complaints come rolling in, you have the ground to stand on that it was their choice not yours.
Seek the spouse’s input before making plans.
Ask your spouse to give input on future plans. This may be anything from what to eat to choices about child rearing. Keep coming back to this until the input is given. Be prepared to find it rough going at the beginning. It is hard to be uncooperative if it is your idea. So, your spouse will fight against helping make plans. Often this is so you can be chastised later if the plans do not go well. If you receive no input, do not make any plans. If this is coupled with your reward system, you should see more satisfying results a little quicker.
Be willing to go alone.
This one is tough. The reason that you are bothered by the lack of spousal cooperation is linked to the idea that you want companionship. Going alone can seem like an unwanted choice to you. This can backfire if your spouse prefers being alone to having your company. You need to examine the outcome of this method carefully when evaluating the future of your relationship. However, if your relationship is fairly sound, leaving your spouse behind may be motivation enough to get him or her to cooperate in the future.
Find alternative assistance.
Recruit others to help you with projects that your spouse refuses to do. Like going alone, you may need to prove to your spouse that you can do it with or without their help. The choice is theirs. Most of the time, something between feeling left out and guilt will get your spouse moving in the right direction. Most people prefer not to feel unneeded in a relationship.
Ultimatums are the tool most employed by the person with the weaker position. Drawing a line and tempting someone to cross it is a sure way to escalate conflict. The problem with ultimatums is that they do not work for long. You may get it to work a time or two, but eventually, your spouse will call your bluff. If you threaten to leave or do something else awful if you do not get your way, be prepared to follow through because after a few ultimatums, you will have to make good on your threat.
Ultimatums leave no room for choices or compromise. They are the dead end streets of relationships. If you choose to use them, be ready to be disappointed.