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Healthy Assertiveness in a Relationship

What is Healthy Assertiveness in a Relationship

In healthy relationships, couples genuinely acknowledge their partner’s wants, thoughts, and feelings. And this is only possible with healthy assertiveness. Dr. Hawkins elaborates on what healthy assertiveness in a relationship means and how to apply it.

What is Healthy Assertiveness in a Relationship

A healthy assertiveness in a relationship can often be a confusing and misunderstood concept. It’s easy to misconstrue assertiveness as demanding your way or bulldozing over others. On the contrary, healthy assertiveness is a delicate balance that involves understanding and respecting both your own needs and the needs of your partner. In this article, we’ll explore what healthy assertiveness means in a relationship and how it can lead to win-win solutions.

The Misconceptions

Before delving into the essence of healthy assertiveness, let’s clear up some common misconceptions:

  1. Not Pushing Your Way Through Things: Healthy assertiveness is not about stubbornly pushing your agenda onto your partner. It’s not a battle of wills where one person dominates the other.
  2. Not Always Capitulating: Conversely, it’s not about always giving in to your partner’s wishes without voicing your own thoughts and feelings. Suppressing your needs can lead to resentment and frustration.

Understanding Healthy Assertiveness in a Relationship

To understand healthy assertiveness, let’s turn to Dr. David Hawkins, Director of the Marriage Recovery Center, who provides valuable insights on the subject.

1. It’s Not Passive: Passive behavior might seem like the easy route, but it’s not a sustainable approach in a relationship. Suppressing your thoughts and feelings can only lead to passive-aggressive behavior down the line.

2. It’s Not Aggressive: On the flip side, healthy assertiveness is not aggression. It doesn’t involve overpowering or dominating your partner. Instead, it seeks a harmonious balance.

3. It’s About Preferences: A key aspect of healthy assertiveness is recognizing that both you and your partner have preferences. It’s not about dictating what should be done but acknowledging what you want and what your partner wants.

The “I Want – They Want” Ratio

Healthy assertiveness can be summed up as the “I want – They want” ratio. It’s about maintaining awareness of your preferences and your partner’s preferences.

  • Your Preferences: Be conscious of what you want and need in the relationship. Don’t shy away from expressing your thoughts and desires.
  • Their Preferences: Equally important is understanding what your partner wants and needs. Empathy and active listening play a crucial role in this.

From this point of equality, you can begin to negotiate, compromise, and find common ground. It’s a collaborative process where both parties work together to create solutions that benefit everyone involved.

A Win-Win Approach

Healthy assertiveness leads to win-win solutions. Instead of a zero-sum game where one person’s gain is another’s loss, both partners emerge from the interaction feeling valued and understood.

The process involves:

  1. Self-Awareness: Know what you want, and be willing to express it honestly and respectfully.
  2. Empathy: Understand your partner’s perspective and what they want.
  3. Negotiation: Find compromises and make concessions where necessary, keeping both parties’ preferences in mind.
  4. Equality: Approach discussions as equals, valuing each other’s input and feelings.

In the end, healthy assertiveness enriches the relationship, fostering a sense of cooperation and mutual respect. It’s not about overpowering or submitting but about finding harmony between your needs and your partner’s needs.

In conclusion, healthy assertiveness is the bridge between expressing your desires and respecting your partner’s wishes. It’s a journey toward understanding, compromise, and mutual growth in your relationship. So, the next time you encounter a disagreement with your partner, remember the “I want – They want” ratio, and strive for solutions that work for both of you.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: What is the Cost of Avoiding Conflict in a Relationship?

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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