Todd and Casey were building an addition to their house. Todd was content with the house as it was, but Casey insisted they needed an addition. Unfortunately, the contractor they chose was unscrupulous; he took the money but never finished the project. Previously, Casey tried to start a business. They sank valuable savings into the business, but it never lifted off the ground. Todd shared other similar stories and was tired of going along with it.

Todd felt railroaded by his wife—she would use anything in her power to get what she wanted. Todd acknowledged that he could be indecisive, but he felt Casey would sell him a bill of goods and force her way. Todd’s previous attempts at stopping this pattern were unsuccessful and now they were in a relationship and financial mess.

Todd was concerned that this was Casey’s personality, and she would be unable to change. I told them behavior can change but personality is enduring. I explained that her forceful behavior was the problem. She wasn’t respecting Todd’s position. By insisting on her point of view she may have won the battle but she was losing the relationship. The idea of losing the relationship was agonizing to Casey.

Casey agreed to work on her ability to listen and create solutions that addressed both of their needs. Todd had difficulty asserting himself, but was relatively content with what he had, and was hoping Casey could count her blessings as well. Casey agreed that the focus would be on their partnership rather than winning any argument about a project she wanted.