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Is your spouse controlling or judgmental? Does your spouse keep score in your relationship?

I’m Rebecca Mullen, a relationship coach living in Western Colorado.

  1. Today I’ll introduce you to The Saboteur: the shadow side of The Partner
  2. You’ll understand why the Saboteur is controlling and critical
  3. And you’ll get a magic question that tames The Saboteur so it doesn’t take over your relationship.

Remember my marriage framework? It’s made up of The Friend, who provides companionship, the Lover who explores excitement, and The Partner who helps you get stuff done.


Identifying The Saboteur in your relationship

Pam and Lilah have an imbalance when it comes to the Partnership in their relationship.

In today’s story of a challenging partner relationship, do you relate more to Pam or to Lilah? Text me at 970-210-4480 and let me know.


Quiz: Who are you likely to be in your relationship?

Here’s a quick quiz to know if you’re more likely to become the Saboteur or if you’re a reluctant partner: When it comes to chores, you’re more likely to:

  1. Spend time searching through the text chain because you are ABSOLUTELY sure your spouse promised to pick up toilet paper last week and there’s no toilet paper now.
  2. Gather together a list, get busy working, and hand out assignments to anyone who’s not contributing.
  3. Wait to be told how you can help, then pitch in where you’re told.
  4. Announce you’re hungry in hopes your spouse has a dinner idea

If you answered 1 or 2 you’ll want to keep a lookout for the Saboteur shadow. If you answered 3  or 4 you’re in reluctant partner territory and you run the risk of taking your spouse for granted.


How Do You Tame the Saboteur?

Lilah gets defensive, “How was I supposed to know all of these chores had to get done?”

Pam puts down the stack of cushion covers, “Why do I have to be responsible for being the organizer, the planner, and the executer?”

This is the core impasse between a reluctant partner and a saboteur. You and your spouse don’t agree about what jobs are worthy of getting done.


The magical phrase that will help your relationship

If you’re like Pam and feel like you’re always the one working and never getting the help you need, here’s your magical phrase:  What’s happening in your mind right now? Tell me the whole story that I can’t see.

If you are more like Lilah, and you feel like there’s a secret list you can’t see, but you’re expected to do those chores or you’ll get the stink eye, your phrase is Tell me the whole story of ____. Then fill in the blank with the very specific moment at hand.


Why this helps

Lilah’s reluctant partner gets an education. Pam’s Saboteur is tamed.

Lilah sees how Pam’s love arrives in a river of details. Pam is freed from her list, and she’s able to let some items drop.

Try this habit: 

This week’s habit for your happily ever after is to discover if you are more a Pam or a Lilah. Do you tend more toward the Saboteur or the reluctant partner?

You’ll know to be wary of the Saboteur if you(r):

  • Tend to keep score about chores and tasks
  • Feel over-worked and/or under-appreciated
  • Spouse never helps and you have to do all the work

You might be a reluctant partner if you:

  • Can’t be bothered with the details of living: cleaning, meal-prep, shopping
  • Are always playing catch up: “Oh! There’s nothing to eat, I guess I’ll order a pizza.”

Try this date night discussion: 

This week use the magic phrase I wanna hear the whole story.

Conversations about chores can cause conflict. When you ask to hear the whole story and you’re truly curious, you diffuse that conflict.

Hold onto your magic phrase with the intention of listening to the entirety of your spouse’s whole story.

If you tend toward the Saboteur, your phrase is:

  • What’s happening right now in your mind? What’s your whole story that I can’t see?

If you tend toward the reluctant partner, your phrase is:

  • Tell me the whole story of ____ (then insert a specific moment of conflict).
  • Lilah asked, “Tell me the whole story of the mouse poop drawer.”

When you use this magic phrase—I wanna hear the whole story—you give your spouse room to be right. Room to want what they want.

Listen. Then listen longer.

Want to read a transcript of this podcast? 

Click here to go to my blog.

When does The Saboteur tend to show up in your relationship?  Text me today at 970-210-4480 and let me know.

Want to stop arguing and start connecting with your spouse? This FREE e-course will offer you habits to improve your marriage communication so you can smile more and fight less. Sign up to improve marriage communication.

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