How could something so obscure and downright gross sounding help your love life? Okay, you got me, it’s a metaphor. For the past few months I’ve been in a power struggle with my three year old. I am determined that she will take fish oil on a daily basis, if it is the last thing I do. So help me God. She has been equally determined that she will not take fish oil even if her life depends on it. This includes (but is not limited to) screaming, protesting, spitting it out, running away from me, and becoming physically violent when I attempt to give it to her. We were at an impasse.
And then suddenly it dawned on me–the only way she’s going to do what I want is if it is on her terms and fits her own desires. So I had to do some deductive reasoning. What does she love? What can she not get enough of? How can the taste be masked to the point that she doesn’t even recognize it as fish oil?
After hours of googling, reading Amazon reviews, and online shopping, I discovered a “Fish Oil Swirl” that is a Key Lime Flavor and many reviews stated that it had “absolutely NO fishy taste or aftertaste.” It was a good bit pricier than the other stuff (fish oil gummies, soft gels, and liquid concentrate), but it was my last resort. I ordered that sucker and when it arrived sure enough NO fishy taste or smell whatsoever. Eureka! Or so I thought…..
My daughter’s defiance, stubbornness and resistance persisted. Even though the stuff was delicious (truly, it tastes like a dessert), she refused to take it because of the texture (it’s a bit thick and labeled as a “smoothie.”). But I am not one to give up easily. As I was wracking my brain for another solution I was interrupted by “Popsicle, Poppppsicleee, Popsicleeee!!!!” as my daughter flung her body back and forth as she struggled unsuccessfully to open the freezer door. And like magic, there was the answer just waiting for me to stumble upon it. Fish oil popsicles: 10 % Fish oil swirl, 90% pink lemonade was the silver bullet.
That night after she went to sleep I got to work on them. And like magic, the next morning the fish oil popsicles were a hit! The best part is that we both got what we wanted and there is no more arguing. No more power struggle. No need to assert ourselves to no end. No need to push our own agenda at the expense of the other’s wants.
As I reflected on it afterward I realized what a parallel it is to finding compromise in romantic relationships. The process I used to come up with fish oil popsicles can be applied to impasses in your relationship. Here’s the breakdown:
Step 1- Define the issues. What is the problem or conflict? What is the goal or the outcome you’re hoping to get to? In my scenario I wanted my daughter to take fish oil. She wanted to not take fish oil.
Step 2- Cultivate an understanding for the other person and what’s motivating their stance. In my scenario it was likely a few things. A.) The taste and smell was kinda yuck. B.) She’s a toddler and loves nothing more than to assert her authority by flat out refusing to cooperate. C.) Also because she’s a toddler she’s often erratic, unpredictable and generally difficult (impossible) to reason with.
Step 3- Get creative and curious. Start asking questions. Pay attention to what’s important to the other person and strive to incorporate that into the possible solutions. In my scenario it required observation, because she wasn’t going be able to tell me what she wanted. I had to just pay attention to what she does love. What she can’t get enough of. What she never turns down. And then include what I wanted, but it also had to be measured. Too much fish oil might ruin the popsicle. So it required some tinkering of the amounts to find the perfect combo that we could both live with.
Step 4- Bring the other person into the process. People are much more likely to accept solutions that they feel like they have a part in creating. Nobody likes to be informed of what they’re going to do and everyone likes to be asked what they can offer to help solve a collective problem. In my scenario this was subtle but her part of the process was continuing to trust me and keep trying things I offered after various failed attempts with the yucky fish oil products.
Step 5- Hug on it. Just kidding. But it’s not a bad way to finish conflict. Who doesn’t like a quality cuddling sesh?
Next time there’s a topic where you are hell bent on having your way and your partner is not giving in or having any of it here are some things to think about:
-How can you use creativity to find a solution?
-What information do you know about your partner that can make it an easy “Yes”?
-Are you willing to let the other person appear to win a battle order to stop the war?
My daughter has no idea she’s actually getting fish oil. All she knows is that she gets more popsicles and I no longer try to force yucky fish oil on her. Go ahead and get crazy with the options, a creative solution that serves everyone can go along way for getting what you want and strengthening your relationship. What is the best creative solution you’ve ever come up with?
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