What if They Have a 'Stubborn' Attitude?
If you are married to or in a relationship with a stubborn person, it can be very challenging, especially when
there is any type of serious conflict.
You probably find yourself wanting to pull your hair out or bang your head against the wall in frustration.
Stubborn people are pros at digging in their heels when we want them to do something or look at things from a
different perspective from their own.
Heaven help us if we want them to change...!!
If you're at your wits end with your stubborn partner, don't despair. There are ways to interact with him or her
that are effective and will make your relationship more harmonic as a result.
As you keep reading, always remember that no matter how stubborn your partner is or whether your partner refuses to listen, it takes two to
tango. Rather than expecting him or her to stop being stubborn or change, the onus is on you to change your
If you are ready and willing to do that (after all, pulling all your hair out is really not a good look for
you...right?) then keep reading!
1. Never get into a power struggle when dealing with a stubborn person or partner with bad attitude. This is the biggest mistake most
people make, and it inevitably makes things worse. It's like a tug of war - the harder you pull (or push), the
harder they pull (or push) back.
When you find yourself pushing (e.g. insisting, nagging, demanding, bullying, giving ultimatums, etc) you need
to catch yourself and step back. Otherwise they are just going to become more resistant than ever and things will
Also, you will end up drained and more frustrated than ever.
2. Find the common ground. Often, when couples get into conflict, they begin to polarize and rather than find
areas of agreement. Instead, consider your partner's perspective and look for those things (no matter how small!)
on which you agree.
When your partner realizes you are really trying to consider her perspective or opinion, she will likely begin
to lower their resistance. Then you can start to make progress!
3. Be honest without attacking or blaming. If you want your partner to change a behavior that feels
disrespectful to you, or that is potentially harmful to him, or that is hurting your relationship, be upfront about
For example, if your husband is smoking and you want him to quit because you are worried about his
health, rather than make attacking remarks such as "you know that's going to kill you!", frame it a different
Say something like, "I love you and want a long, happy life with you. I am scared I am going to lose you far too
soon if you continue smoking." Be sure you are sincere and calm. Expressing things in terms of how you feel ("I"
statements) takes away a sense of blaming, shaming, or attacking.
4. Back off and give your partner some space. After you have expressed how you feel, let it go for awhile. Let
it sink in for your partner. Constant badgering or harping just fuels their resistance, particularly if that's been
a pattern in your relationship.
5. Listen and ask questions. This is not easy when you are exasperated with your partner's stubbornness, but
it's one of the best ways to break through his resistance.
Good communication is especially crucial when dealing with stubborn people. Let your partner know that you
really want to understand his feelings and point of view, but you can't do that if he doesn't talk to you
Gently encourage him to talk and be sure to listen, not interrupt, and really try to understand his perspective.
Ask questions to get clarification and to show him that you are truly trying to understand.
Calmly ask that your partner listen to your
viewpoint as well, after he has shared his.
6. Don't be confrontational. The "safer" you make the conversation, the more likely your partner will be to open
up. If your partner anticipates or senses an antagonistic interaction, the walls will quickly go right back up.
7. If despite your best efforts nothing seems to work, consider couples therapy. Your relationship may have more
serious underlying issues getting in the way, or you may be dealing with someone whose stubbornness goes so deep
that professional help is necessary. If your partner won't go with you, go alone.
Always remember that the only person you can change is you. Trying to change someone else never works. But if
you make positive changes, they will almost always have a positive impact on your relationship!
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