Want an authentic relationship full of truth and humor? Read on…

My husband Murray and I both listened to the call of our Muses eight years ago and quit our secure jobs to follow our dreams. I had two children in college and a tenured job with a school district, but I knew my body and soul needed me to jump off the cliff of security into self-employment. I left monthly salary, paid health care, and regular retirement deposits and traded them for the chance to discover and embrace my magnificence. Murray left his job as an occupational therapist at a hospital to work on a contract with a school district that is renewed yearly.

Living in integrity also means being clear about asking for what we want. As I’ve said, if we make an agreement, we must keep it. But if we want something from someone, integrity demands that we speak up. We need to make a specific, concrete request and then be ready to graciously accept “no” for an answer. Our communication is clear, our behavior is in alignment with our words and the resonance feels absolutely terrific.

“Is there a request hidden in there somewhere?”

This is what Murray said to me after I spent several minutes complaining about something he had done. I didn’t know I was complaining, mind you. I thought I was displaying my knowledge of how right I was. Murray should change, based on my sharing. That was what I thought, anyway.

When Murray asked if I had a request, he immediately shifted me out of my complaining, problem-keeping mode and shifted me to a problem-solving mode.

“Oh,” I said, rather meekly, “I do have a request.”

Problem solved. Fight avoided. Murray is a genius again. Requests are different from complaints. A complaint gives the illusion of power, but making a request is powerful. Complaints feel good like eating too much ice cream: it feels good at the time but then leads to an upset stomach. Complaining gives us a surge of sweet adrenaline but creates relationship hangovers and only helps us keep our problems.

Requests, on the other hand, are clean and clear. “Will you do this for me by this date?” is a question that can be answered with either a yes or no, or it can be renegotiated.

Example: Complaint: “Murray,” (said with a slight whine), “this door sticks and has stuck for the six years we have lived here.”

Murray, helping me to move out of complaining and into problem solving: “Quit your bitching.”

Oops! That was Murray making the problem worse. Here is Murray problem solving: “Is there a request buried in there somewhere, darling, my most beloved?”

Me, returning to sanity: “Yes, dearest one. This door has been driving me nuts for years. I don’t know why I never thought to ask you to fix it or to have you help me fix it myself. Would you fix it or help me fix it?”

“Sure, you gorgeous thing. When would you like to get together and fix this door?”

“How about right now, my knight in shining armor? You know how I love ‘no waiting.’”

Instead of engaging in whining and name-calling, we have solved a problem, had a few laughs, and I have learned how to be more powerful in this world and how to use a new tool! Hooray!

Author's Bio: 

Vicki Hannah Lein is a counselor, singer/songwriter, speaker, and life coach. For a free sample of her song “Sorry Doesn’t Work Here Anymore” and the introduction to her new book Woman with a Voice, visit her web site: www.stepintoyourgreatness.us.