You have probably heard the expression, “what part of no do you not understand?” Saying “no” oftentimes is not easy for various reasons. Or, receiving a “no” from another may not be easy to digest. The focus in this writing is the “power of no” in a romantic relationship. This can be a complicated utterance, oftentimes messed up by a couple communicating poorly.

This topic comes up often in couple counseling. One person wants to do something while the partner does not. How to resolve this difference of direction? 

The deciding communication can begin with each person stating how much each wants to do, or not to do, a particular thing. Let me use a simple example. Billy Bob and Sue Ellen have been invited to a party. Sue Ellen is excited about it and wants to go. Billy Bob says he doesn’t like those folks and doesn’t want to go. How to solve the dilemma?

The first determination is how adamant each person is with his or her desire. Perhaps there is room for compromise. Billy Bob may agree to go if certain conditions are met, i.e. come home at a certain time. If not, I am saying the “power of no” should prevail. Billy Bob should not cave and be forced to go. If Sue Ellen feels strongly about going, she should go. 

This is a rather benign example. It can get much more serious with more complex examples such as financial expenditures, where to live, discipline and education of kids, extended family interaction, etc… .

The bottom line here is that your right and power to say, “no” in matters relating to decisions affecting both of you needs to be respected. No one can control or compel the other to do something you really don’t want to do.

However, if you are in a relationship where there are a lot of “nos” there is a problem inherent in the relationship. A compatible life style, focusing on the “we” as a couple, should have few circumstances where a strong “no” needs to be stated.

Bottom line is that each person needs to know what he or she wants and have the courage and opportunity to voice that opinion. The right to say “no” should be each person’s right. Hopefully, Respected Reader, you have many more “yeses” shared than the dividing “nos”! 

Dr. Stathas can be reached at 706-473-1780. Email: jstathas13@gmail.com. Website: drstathas.googlepages.com. Blog: drstathas.com. Book: “A Successful Life — Guaranteed!” at Amazon

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