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Spouse Manipulating You?

Spouse Manipulating You?

Tips to Help You Deal -- and Beat -- Manipulation in your Marriage


    Drama is what people who lack substance use to manipulate others to get their way in the short run, but causes others to stop respecting them and avoid them in the long run. Whether it's in your marriage or after your divorce, that manipulation can certainly get your attention. So how do you deal with manipulative people?

Use the Principle of Fair and Reasonable.

Make a list of the manipulative people you know. They are the ones who will always become dramatic (or bombastic, sullen, belligerent, etc.) whenever they want to get their way or get out of doing something they don't want to do. With people you don't know, they are the ones that will cause you to have a knot in your stomach within minutes, if not seconds.

1. Don't interrupt them and let them "punch themselves out" verbally. This might take some time, but eventually they will stop talking.

2. Pause after they stop and say, "Hmm." This will communicate you're thinking about what they've said and considering it…and will make them feel anxious because they will sense that you're on to them. And say, "Hmm" in a way that begs the question from them, "What are you thinking about?"

3. In a measured, calm voice say, "I was just thinking about whether what you are asking is fair and reasonable to me, because if it is, I'll be happy to oblige. However even if it's not, I might still do it, but then of course it's a favor and you'll owe me one now or at a time of my choosing in the future."

4. Here's where it becomes fun. Watch them puff up, possibly have their neck veins turn red and eyes start popping as they indignantly retort: "Don't do me any favors!" and stomp out. 

5. To add icing on the cake you might say as they leave: "Well if it's important to you and you'd like to exchange favors in the future, feel free to talk with me again."

Not only will you feel triumphant after beating a manipulative person, you won't have to go out and have a smoke, eat something bad for you, or kick the dog that you usually do when such a person gets the better of you.

Mark Goulston, M.D., is a well-known psychiatrist, speaker, business trainer and coach as well as author of "Get Out of Your Own Way," "Just Listen," and "The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship."  He writes a regular column, "Getting through to Anybody," for divorce360. He can be reached at mgoulston@markgoulston.com.

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