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When You Can't Say Yes to Your Husband or Wife

Sometimes, what your mate proposes just doesn't work for you. It seems too risky or scary or it asks too much of you. You can't say yes.

Ron wants his wife Ronee to see the Grand Canyon with him. He thinks they should fly out there this summer. She would love to see it, but she's terrified of flying. She says not this year. She wants to make Ron happy, and it makes her feel lousy to say no.

Nan wants her wife, Lynn to pay all the bills. Lynn thinks it's a really bad idea for one spouse to handle all the finances, because she knows all too well that emergencies happen. So she won't agree with Nan on this one, even though she adores Nan and wants her to be happy.

Jen wants a new sofa. Zach wants to hang onto the money, because their SUV is wearing out. Zach kicks himself for not making enough money to be able to buy Jen the sofa she wants. He knows how much the appearance of the living room means to her, and it kills him to tell her he's just too uncomfortable with the risk.

Been there? You just know you must say no, but at the same time you wish you could give your mate a big, enthusiastic yes and put a bow on it to boot? It turns out you don't have to say no. Try this:

"I want you to have that. However, I can't do what you're asking of me. Help me figure out how else to make sure you get what you want."

Is this possible? It most definitely is.

Ron and Ronee needed to do a lot to make it happen, but they both took off enough time from work to drive to the Grand Canyon.

Nan and Lynn decided to alternate paying the bills every 6 months, and they traded vegetables from their garden for assistance from a local MBA student when it was Nan's turn.

After talking about it, Jen admitted she wanted a better sofa now for a party they were planning. However, they would not be home much for a few months after that, so she and Zach rented a gorgeous sofa for the party. It was a display piece at a local furniture store feeling the pinch of the recession. They were happy to deliver it and pick it up a week later for a small price.

When we're asked for something we just don't feel we can do or give, it's an awful feeling, a my needs versus my spouse's needs emotional tug-of-war. Saying no feels awful. Playing the martyr or being the doormat feels awful. But saying "I want you to have that" feels terrific.

If you have found a way to say yes to your husband or wife without compromising your own values or needs, please share it with us with a comment.

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The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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