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The Pushover Initiative
Does your spouse’s lack of initiative bowl you over? Dr. K’s got some quick-fix tips.

If your spouse doesn't show enough initiative, Dr. K's got answers.

My wife and I have a good 50/50 relationship. The problem is that she's pretty laid back and usually needs a push from me before she tackles her half. How can I get her to show more initiative?

I can imagine how you may be annoyed with your wife because in your relationship, her lack of initiative ends up requiring you to carryout a lot of extra responsibility.

This reminds me of a client who expressed a very similar situation regarding her husband. She vented her resentment for a long time about always being the one to do everything and how she was tired of it. I listened, empathized and then asked, "When you first met, what was it that attracted you to him?"

"He was so laid back," she replied. That’s all I needed to hear.

I’m really glad hitchedmag.com readers have expressed interest about this matter because it helps to bring out some very important points couples need to be aware of. For instance, when you first meet someone, you are drawn to certain traits. But in every trait, there’s an upside and a downside. The downside of being laid back is that the person isn’t likely to take initiative.

Please note that whatever traits a person has—those traits will be exhibited right in the beginning. And, who that person is will not change. If someone comes into the house and throws their jacket on the chair, they’re not going to become a "neat freak" down the road. The only thing that will change is more of the trait will be displayed as the person feels more comfortable.

You don’t necessarily pick these traits up in the beginning partly because you’re so enamored with someone, you only see the positive side of the trait. But as they get to feel more comfortable and as you get to know them better, the filtering lenses of emotion aren’t quite as blurred and the downside is seen more clearly.

Here are some other examples: A man meets a woman who is so caring—six months later he protests that she’s too motherly. On the flip side, the romantic suitor whom merely tells her to be ready at 8:00 o’clock and recommends appropriate attire tickles a woman. It’s not too long before "romantic" is seen as "controlling!"

So, what do you do since you’re past the initial stages of the relationship where you’re all "googly-eyed" over your mate?
  1. Apply the quick little trick I did with my client and remember what first drew you to your partner to help you look at the positive. Remember what you valued in them.
  2. It’s really important to think about the whole of your partner. In other words, don’t just focus on one aspect of their personality, but all of who they are so you can appreciate them.
  3. Think in terms of the two of you together. My guess is that, as a team, you create a good balance for one another. Perhaps you’re wife being laid back counterbalances a strong trait in you.
The key to a good relationship is respecting one another. So, respect your differences and sprinkle it with appreciation and you will certainly be starting the New Year off right!

Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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