SGR 006 | How to Get Your Partner to Say Yes
No two people are the same.
Your partner will NOT always agree with your needs, wants, ideas, desires, goals, and values!
(Frankly, that would make your relationship a bit boring anyway).
But, would you like to know how to get your partner to say “yes” more often?
You can achieve this by YOU saying “yes” more often.
Compromise - or getting to the mutual “yes” - is a couples’ skill that can take your relationship from good to great in no time. Unfortunately, most couples misunderstand what compromise really entails.
Compromise is NOT about getting your partner on your side.
When your goal is persuasion, you will inevitably butt heads and fail to reach a middle ground. This approach creates a focus on the differences between you, rather than areas of agreement. It allows for doubt, criticism, and frustration to creep in. You actually end up pushing each other to opposite ends of the spectrum - rather than meeting in the middle.
No wonder couples feel compromise doesn’t work.
Successful compromise happens when you:
- Start from a place of understanding
- Look for similarities in your thoughts, feelings, and needs
- Don’t focus on the differences
Effective compromise is about improving the quality of your relationship, not necessarily finding a clear-cut solution. (Remember: 69 percent of relationship issues are perpetual and won’t get resolved).
Not sure how to do this?
This week’s bonus, The Compromise Cheat Sheet, will guide you and your partner through this process step-by-step, so you can move from a stalemate to understanding, peace, and resolution.
Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:
- Compromise - 0:52
- Why do we need compromise? - 2:17
- Learning about each other - 5:55
- Understanding your partner - 8:37
- Finding common ground - 9:44
- Making a list of negotiables - 10:28
- Non-negotiables - 12:46
- Solvable and perpetual problems - 17:08
- Example of a solvable problem - 18:49
- Example of a perpetual problem - 21:26
- End goal - 24:40
- Meredith + Marina’s takeaways - 26:36
Meredith: Hey there and welcome to episode six of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad you can join us. I’m Meredith Silversmith, and this is Marina Voron, and we are really excited to bring you this episode on “How To You Get Your Partner to Say Yes?”. It’s a good one.
Meredith: Make sure you stay with us ‘til the end because we got a great bonus for you and we’ll tell you how to get it.
Marina: So, I think we all really would love it if our partner said yes to us a lot more.
Marina: Ah, so this is something I tell a lot of people, and it's always been a bit of an epiphany moment for them. But a big part of getting your partner to say yes is also saying yes yourself.
Meredith: Mmm! Yeah.
Marina: Ahm…so, John Gottman, we’ve mentioned him before, loved his research, has a really, really lovely quote that really encompasses this which is, "compromise with me like I’m someone that you love." So it’s about if you wanna hear yes from your partner, it’s also giving them a yes and getting to yes together because you love each other and you’re not battling it out. It’s not about the winner and the loser. It’s about getting to yes together so that you and your relationship wins.
Meredith: Yeah! I love that quote by John Gottman because it’s, it’s reminding you that in the moments when you don’t agree, you’re not enemies. Right? It doesn’t mean that you’re enemies that are, you know, against each other and trying to get to two different outcomes. It means, let’s join forces and let’s get to something that we’re both comfortable with.
Marina: Yeah! And I mean I’m sure you’ve seen this, I see this a lot. Like a lot of times, people are trying to get to the same endpoint. They just may see a little bit different paths there.
Meredith: Yeah! All the time.
Marina: But it becomes so adversarial, and people really dig their heels in, and it’s like to what end? You are trying to get to the same point. If you think of it more as a collaboration, more as to getting to yes, the impetus is really gonna get you there much quicker.
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely. You know something that I talk about as well with my couples is, why do we need to compromise? Right? Because a lot of them come in, in a way not wanting to. Compromise means, I’m gonna take a little bit from you, a little bit from me and I’m gonna put it together and to the gray area. But a lot of couples come in, and they want, “No! I want a hundred percent my way” or “A hundred percent, you know, my way” and that’s just not always possible. So why is this important? You know, one thing that I’ve always think of is you wanna do something that feels good to everybody. Compromise is about meeting in the middle, finding something that everyone’s a little bit okay with. Right? That’s kind of how I say it. You’re not a hundred percent happy all the time, but you could be pretty happy, and your partner could be pretty happy about this decision or that decision.
Marina: Yeah! And I think like that’s a really big one to realize that not one hundred percent happy is still a lot of happy. And also, a big thing is, and I think we can both relate to this cuz we’re both only children is, if you don’t agree, and you know for a long time I struggled with this. I was like, well, "if my partner doesn’t agree with me, they don’t wanna compromise with me, we’re never gonna get anywhere," but you’re two different people. You’re never gonna agree on everything.
Meredith: Mhmm. Yeah!
Marina: It’s more like, you just need to agree enough.
Meredith: Right! Definitely! And not, not being able to agree on everything does not mean, you shouldn’t be together, you’re bad fit, you’re not soulmates, you’re not meant to be. Like all these. Things that are here, you’re not supposed to agree on everything. It’s not possible. You’re never gonna find that.
Marina: Never! And you’re two different people from two different backgrounds. Two very individual experiences. It’s impossible. And I think when people are really able to internalize, it’s impossible and this is not the mission. A great relationship is really not made up of two people that one hundred percent agree on everything. I kinda think that’d be really boring.
Meredith: Yeah! I’d imagine. I wouldn’t wanna date myself.
Marina: Yeah! I wouldn’t wanna date myself either. I think there’s so much that being able to compromise and come up with new solutions, and new ideas together. It’s so enriching to a relationship that you know; it’s such a misconception that you need to agree on everything. It’s totally okay not to, and it’s actually very enriching not to.
Meredith: Yeah! And I, I’ve seen that meaning you put on the disagreement affects how you handle it. So, if I believe that our disagreement means we shouldn’t be together? I’m gonna come in guns a blazing, get you over to my side because then I’m gonna feel more secure and I'm gonna feel like our relationship is okay versus if you’re hearing this right now and we’re saying it’s normal. It’s normal to disagree; it’s normal to have to compromise, it’s normal to have to find a way to meet in the middle, there’s much less, it feels like there’s less at stake when you get to that kind of conflict.
Marina: Yeah! I mean I almost equate that to when people turn into lawyers, not partners, and it’s more about arguing your side and bringing the other person over like almost fighting means necessary. And both people walk away from that feeling bad.
Meredith: Yeah! Yeah!
Marina: You know, your relationship is not made up of a courtroom and presenting your case.
Meredith: No, typically not.
Marina: So, another good reason to compromise is because, it’s really like, this may sound cheesy, but it’s a learning opportunity. It’s an opportunity when compromise goes well, it’s really an opportunity to learn about your partner. The more you learn about your partner, the more they learn about you, the closer and more connected you feel, and you become, and that’s really relationship enriching because if you take off that lawyer hat, and you’re able to say, “Well this is really important to me because...”, not like, “You have to come to my side and here are my arguing points and here’s my rebuttals to all your points and this is why I’m right and this is why you are wrong”. But you are able to say like, This is why this is important to me because, here is my internal world on it and here are my feelings on it”. You’re really teaching your partner about how you think, how you conceptualize things what’s important to you. You’re really letting them in. There’s a lot of vulnerability there.
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! That’s a really good point. You know I think, some people might be watching or listening and thinking, “Well, we can’t even get to that point. Like, we can’t even get to the point of talking about our feelings or our internal worlds because we just argue”. And, you know, I want you to know, that arguments stay arguments when your goal is to pull your partner to your side. If that’s your goal and that’s your target, like Marina described, like two lawyers building the case, you’re gonna stay in that argument because there is no room for compromise. So, what we want you to do is understand each other first. So, before you go in looking for a solution or resolution or winning, you know, the argument, we want you to go on with a mission of understanding each other. And, you know the best way to do this is to use the communication strategies that we shared in episode one. If you haven’t watched or listened, definitely go back because that’s a fundamental stuff. Uhmm.. Be an active listener. Using “I” statements. Speaking in ways that your partner will be able to hear you. That has to come first.
Marina: Yeah! Definitely! What I always tell my couples in session is, “Imagine you’re a kid back in elementary school and you have one of those word math problems. Imagine you only understood every other word, would you really be able to solve that problem?”.
Meredith: Probably not.
Marina: No! And compromise is feeling much so, about getting to “Yes”, about problem-solving and if you’re only understanding your part and not your partner’s, you’re only getting every other word of that math problem.
Meredith: Yeah! That makes sense.
Marina: So, it’s really important to build an understanding and understanding is, “I understand my side, and I understand your side.” So, episode one, really, really vital to build the foundation in order to do this and get out of that stuck feeling of like, “We argue all the time. We can’t even get to this point."
Meredith: Yeah! Definitely! Definitely!
Marina: Yeah! And I, I think another thing that goes with that is when we argue and when we are trying to compromise, but we are really trying to be lawyers and argue our case. What we focus on are the differences. "This is what I want, and this is what’s different in your argument." And when we focus on the differences, they get amplified, and it seems like, “Oh our stances are so so different, we’re so far apart, we’re never gonna meet in the middle because we’re so polarized." Right? And when you focus on differences, you really do polarize each other.
Marina: But what if you switch and you don’t focus on differences? You focus on what you actually have in common.
Meredith: That’s a different concept. That would be a different experience because, yeah. If I’m listening to my partner talk about all the things that they feel and they happen to be the exact opposite of what I feel. I’m not gonna feel very good, and I’m not gonna feel very connected, and I’m not gonna feel like, “This is gonna go anywhere.” So, yes, there are differences. We know that but channel your energy into finding what you have in common. Channel your energy into exploring your areas of flexibility, your areas that are negotiable. So, that’s really the core exercise when it comes to compromising is looking at your own areas of flexibility and areas that you would be negotiable on. Getting a really physical list because it’s hard to organize that in your mind so write it down. One of the things that you could be flexible with, your partner does the same, and then you come together. Focus there. “What’s on your list?”, “What’s on my list?”, “Where do we match up?”. And start from a place of similarity and a place of commonality.
Marina: Yeah. It’s almost like starting waving the white flag. It’s starting saying like, “I wanna get to yes. I wanna end up finding the things we have in common”. And I find when couples do this, they’re almost amazed at how much they have in common.
Meredith: Yeah. It’s usually a surprise.
Marina: It’s so wonderful to see when people are like, “Wow, we’re not as polar opposite as we thought. Yeah, we may have our own individual things here, but we’re really working towards the same thing. And because you’re willing to compromise and be flexible, I’m willing to compromise and be flexible”. So it’s really, really valuable. One thing I do see here, so you talked about making a list of your flexible areas. The areas you're negotiable on because it’s like you’re negotiating. You’re compromising. You should be really flexible. The more flexible you are, the better. People have their non-negotiables, and you’re allowed to, but I find people, especially people that have a long history of being lawyers, sometimes over-value their non-negotiables. And they say, “No, this is something I’m not willing to compromise on” and it’s like you see the defensiveness trickle in.
Meredith: Yeah. Rigidity.
Marina: And that rigidity trickling. By the way, defensiveness, we talked about it in episode four. Really, really important to go back to if you’re like, “Yeah, that’s probably me.” Go back and listen to that episode. But, a really important question to ask yourself here along with writing, write this out. “What makes my non-negotiable a true non-negotiable? Is it just that I’m really stuck in that defensive feeling? Why is this really a non-negotiable for me?”
Meredith: Right, I love that. And when you ask yourself, and I know I do this in session, and you do this in session. So someone has a really, really strong rigid non-negotiable item. You can say, “What makes that so important to you?”. And if the answer is, “Because it is!” or “Because it just is! What do you mean”, you know, we get this sort of blank, black and white “It’s yes because I said so” kind of answer, that’s a sign that maybe it’s not so important and maybe it’s more about like the defensiveness and the dynamic playing out. So you really wanna take that time out on your own. Again, you don’t wanna invest a lot of time and energy in writing a long list of non-negotiables, but you wanna jot down “What are my sticking points? What are the things that go against my values, my beliefs, my ethics, my comfort level?" Right? "What are the things that I just can’t bend on?”. Jot them down, but more importantly, consider why they are so important to you and really try to get to that core reason and like I said, it’s usually an ethics, beliefs, value or comfortability issue.
Marina: And you know what I’ve seen? I’ve seen a lot of times when people do this exercise, and they’re so open, and they go in with the intention of getting to “Yes,” like, their non-negotiables match up. Their non-negotiables are quite similar, and they become almost a little bit less non-negotiable because they live under the same umbrella.
Meredith: Yeah, definitely. And I think the other thing that can pop up which is a good thing to consider is when you are looking at the “Why,” typically, there’s some story in your history that ties into that. So whether it was your history growing up, your history in your previous relationship, your history of this relationship, there’s usually some past experience that you’ve had that has made this a sticky point for you. And to be able to identify that and to verbalize that to your partner can really help get things moving because then, you’re bringing understanding and empathy into the mix and that’s super helpful.
Marina: Mhmm. Yeah. So I think the writing part is really key here and I think the not being scared to ask yourself the questions and really evaluate your non-negotiables especially if you have more than two or three, I always say like really, really evaluate those non-negotiables. So after you write your own, the real value in this exercise comes from sitting together, you bring your list, and then you go through all your negotiables and non-negotiables and on a separate piece of paper, you write down everything you have in common.
Meredith: Yeah. Mhmm.
Marina: And, you know what that does? Makes you feel like you’re on the same page. It really makes you feel like you’re on the same page and like you’re negotiating and compromising and getting to “Yes” with the person you love, not an adversary.
Meredith: Yeah. And I think what’s really key there, you’re starting with your non-negotiables, right? You’re doing the work on your own independently, you’re meeting together, you’re starting with the areas you have in common, then you’re touching briefly on your non-negotiables, but the point is to invest your time and energy in the shared, agreed upon areas and expand them. “How can we expand on this? How could we get creative with this? How can we make this happen or meet both of our needs here?”. I mean, something that’s sort of exciting is we’ve made this really easy for you because we’ve created a really great document to compromise cheat sheet that lists all of this out, so you don’t have to remember and write down what we’re saying right now. You can just download the sheet and then have it ready to go when this comes up because it will come up. It’s gonna come up.
Marina: It should come up!
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely. So that’s a good piece as well. I think it’s important to talk about the different types of problems that people try to handle with compromise because we touched on this with previous episodes but there are solvable problems, and there are perpetual problems. So solvable problems are typically short-term concrete problems where there’s a yes or no answer, there’s a solution, there’s a resolution of something very tangible that can be fixed or changed versus perpetual problems that are more of a mismatch in beliefs, ethics, values, needs, comfortability and it’s something that’s gonna play out over and over with the course of your relationship. I think we’ve mentioned the statistic before, but it still creeps me out every time I say it. 69% of problems in relationships are perpetual. 69% will never get solved.
Marina: And, you know what? I used to really have a hard time internalizing that, and now I see it more as you’re embracing two different people’s uniqueness. And the question that comes up for me is, do we overvalue solving every problem?
Meredith: Maybe, maybe. But I think it’s good to know because again, coming back to the point, don’t go into the conversation expecting to find a solution. Don’t expect a right or wrong or a resolution or a simple fix, expect dialogue and understanding. So, you know, let’s give an example. What would be a solvable problem that could be handled with the compromise procedure that we've been talking about?
Marina: Well, I can give an example from my own life. So, you know, George and I are house-hunting and prior to, we sat, and we did exactly this because you know, we come from very different backgrounds. We come from different kind of growing up and type of experiences so I knew that there would be really core areas that would be different for us in terms of what we were looking for in buying a home and, you know, George tends to be the frugal one and I’m the more kind of frivolous one so there would be some differences in budget and some differences in what we see and areas, so we really sat down and did this and we talked about the kind of feeling we want to create in a home, the kind of area we want to be in, the kind of budget we want to be, what were our negotiables and what were our non-negotiables. And we got to “Yes”! We really honed in on what the budget should be, what areas we want to look at, what type of places we wanna look at, what our non-negotiables were, and the funny thing is I went into like I really had to check my defensiveness because I had some non-negotiables that I really evaluated and were really non-negotiables for me and I was like, “Ugh, I don’t know how George is gonna react to this”, but he actually had the same non-negotiables.
Meredith: Oh wow!
Marina: And I was like, “Ugh, this is so nice!”, you know? And my non-negotiables were I wanted a place with a dishwasher and ensuite laundry because as you know, we don’t have laundry even in our building right now so…
Meredith: That's tough.
Marina: So yeah. It was so effective, and it took maybe 30 mins/35 mins doing it together. It probably took me 20 mins to answer my own questions, and it was just such a helpful, quick, easy, solvable discussion and we got our template, and we actually presented it to our broker and, you know, it was just such a smooth process.
Meredith: That’s awesome! That’s a good one. So a story of success.
Marina: Yes, a story… yes.
Meredith: So, if I’m thinking about a perpetual problem, I would say the one that feels most perpetual right now is both Tom, and I work a lot. We work a lot. I work a lot; he works a lot. He works in Manhattan, so he’s commuting. I work a lot between doing this and talking to you guys and seeing my clients and rewriting, and there’s a lot of things going on, so that would be our perpetual problem, right? I would frame that as we both work a lot. We have busy, hectic schedules and how do we navigate the responsibilities of life? Right? How do we navigate division of labor, maintaining our home, taking care of our pets, all of those fun things that come with being adults and being married and having a home? So, the perpetual problem is I’m not stopping working, right? I’m not gonna stop working tomorrow so that I can do more laundry or do more dishes and Tom’s not gonna stop working, so that’s going to remain the same throughout our life. So how do we navigate that? You know, so really, for us, that was about talking through it in a constructive way, getting to the understanding piece, right? Me really hearing what his schedule was like and what his energy levels were like and what was important to him, what were his non-negotiables, you know? One of his non-negotiables is “I have to exercise five days a week. I have to. That’s how I feel good”. Okay, so that hour is definitely blocked off and one of my non-negotiables is I have to food shop in a real store with real food, you know, I’m a whole foods girl. I know, you’re a whole food girl as well but you know, I can’t run down the block to stop and shop. I have to go to whole foods. It’s important to me to eat organic. Like there’s certain things, well, that’s a time and labor to do that. So there’s certain things that was important to each of us so sort of accepting that, accepting that he’s gonna spend an hour a day exercising, accepting that I’m gonna make this production trip to whole foods once a week at least. And, okay, so we accept, we respect that. We don’t necessarily see eye to eye but how do we then divide and conquer the rest of the stuff. So rather getting angry at, you know, “You didn’t do this, you didn’t do that,” no. We’re accepting, and we’re understanding, and we’re navigating the fact that we both have busy hectic schedules. We both have things that are important to us and with the flexible time that’s left, we accomplish the rest. So, I think that probably a lot of people experience a similar challenge.
Marina: Yeah! And it’s not a problem that’s necessarily gonna go away, but it sounds like you have learned to live with it and you have compromised to a point that it’s not really, it’s more of a problem hypothetically than it is on a day to day basis in terms of impacting your life and not feeling good.
Meredith: Yeah, at this point, absolutely.
Marina: Yeah and I think that’s really the goal with perpetual problems is improving the quality of life as opposed to looking for a solution.
Meredith: Right, exactly.
Marina: So the goal there is to compromise to a better state of being, not necessarily to problem-solving because it’s not necessarily about problem-solving but you guys had this issue and it felt bad, and the issue is still there, it no longer feels bad. The quality of life improved. The problem’s still there, but it’s not necessarily any longer a problem.
Meredith: Right. Exactly! So it’s successful as well.
Marina: Mhmm! So really, the goal there wasn’t to solve it. It was to move from this gridlock of like, “Oh, we’re both busy. We’re both not gonna quit our jobs to be homemakers”.
Marina: It was more like, “Let’s dialogue about this. Let’s learn about each other, get closer and compromise to a point like where it feels good and our non-negotiables are kind of really being acknowledged, and we learn about each other, and we learn about what each of us values while living our life”.
Meredith: Yeah. That’s the goal. That’s definitely the goal. And I mean, look. We don’t want you to just listen to this and then go do whatever else you’re doing in your day. We want you to really integrate it into your relationship, so we did create that compromise cheat sheet that we mentioned earlier. We strongly encourage you to download it. It’s step-by-step. It guides you through it. You could use it all the time if you have to. So you could get that over at our website at www.simplygreatrelationships.com/006download. So that’s the best place to get it, and we wanna know what you think of it also. So I’ll be curious to know how it works for you.
Marina: Yeah. Was it helpful? Did it feel different? Was it nice to not be a lawyer?
Meredith: That’s a big change.
Marina: Yeah. So, let’s talk about takeaways.
Meredith: Mmm. Takeaway from today. I would say, honestly hearing from you that you and George, like you, were going to make a really big decision that not necessarily, you don’t have to be in disagreement to apply this. That’s, I guess, my takeaway that if you’re going into a big life decision or just something where there’s the potential that, “Hmm, we may not see eye to eye.” You can really set it up for success by going through this process from the beginning. You don’t have to have an argument to get to the point of compromise.
Marina: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really, really good point that compromise is not always about post-argument. It’s about big life decisions where you need to compromise, and it’s like a little preventative medicine almost to be able to do that. My big takeaway is, I mean, I love this one. It’s that the majority of problems are perpetual and that it’s about it’s improving quality of life and not seeing them necessarily as such big and impactful problems as opposed to looking for this specific well written out solution.
Meredith: Yeah, definitely.
Marina: That most problems aren’t gonna go away, but that’s fine. So, I’d say some good takeaways today. So, that’s all for today. We hope you take these tips and you start using them right away. We’d love for you to continue the conversation with us in our Facebook group. We will be hooking you up with tips, tricks; we’re doing live streams exclusively for our group members to continue the conversation if you have any questions for us. You can find our group at www.facebook.com/groups/simplygreatrelationships or click on the link on our website www.simplygreatrelationships.com because we’d love to continue the conversation with you.
Meredith: Definitely. So until next time! We’ll see you!
Marina & Meredith: Bye!