I talked to Alice and Paul by Skype. Alice was obviously agitated as she complained that Paul wasn’t listening to her.
“How so?” I asked.
“I read in one of the Real Love books about something called a loving request,” Alice said, “and I learned that I have a right to make one. So I made a loving request of Paul, and he’s not listening.”
What Alice meant by “not listening,” of course, was that Paul wasn’t complying with her request. If he wasn’t DOING what she wanted, he wasn’t listening. She explained that for years—from long before their marriage to the present—Paul had gone out once a month to eat and have a couple of drinks with a small group of his friends. Increasingly she had become frustrated about his being gone, and she was “requesting” that he stop this activity and instead stay home with her.
Alice then meticulously explained why Paul should agree with her request: She had made so many sacrifices for him, husbands should put their wives first, and he simply SHOULD do this for her. She stated her position to me again and again, as though each repetition increased the righteous force of her request.
I finally interrupted, saying, “Alice, dear, although you SAY you’re making a request, you’re not. You’re making a demand.”
“How can you say that?”
“First, when he refuses your ‘request,’ you’re angry. That’s absolute proof that you’re not making a true request. Second, you don’t just ASK for what you want. No, you PROVE—with long and repeated arguments—how your ‘request’ is not only reasonable, but that any sensible person couldn’t possibly refuse you. Third—and possibly most important—your tone is completely incompatible with a genuine request.”
“But what if he keeps drinking with his friends?”
“He might. But you don’t get to control that. You want to control it, which proves again that you’re not making a request.”
“So a husband can drink all he wants? Even if his wife hates it?”
“Sure, and if he drinks enough, his wife might be smart not to stay living with him. But let’s look at his drinking. How often does he go out drinking?”
“Probably once a month,” she said.
“And when he’s home, does he spend time with you? Care about you?”
“Since doing Real Love, he’s actually doing pretty well with that.”
“So he’s loving you better—he’s giving you what you really want—but you’re complaining about something he does just once in a while that you don’t especially like? You might be complaining a lot about a small thing. What do you think?”
Love people. Accept them. You can always make genuine requests, but if you become insistent, you’ll eliminate the love, which is what you really want.
Find genuine happiness now and forever.
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