How do I tell my partner that our relationship is less than ideal, that they are doing some things that really bother me, even though they are not deal breakers?
I asked the person to tell me, to script it and here is the result- “You know how you have told me that you are not good in relationships? You need help learning how to be a better partner, that it does not come naturally. No one has volunteered to teach you and you feel the need to learn. It is now up to you, honey, to get the info. You need to teach yourself or get information that will help you be better in relationships.”
I asked the person to be more specific in prompting the partner. For example, John Gottman, PhD is the foremost researcher in relationships. He has multiple (free) YouTubes and has a website on which he sells a Weekend Couples Retreat (in a box). There are many hours of cutting edge research and information that is 100% relevant to their concerns. They could learn it in 14 hours or so, then practice it with the workbook provided and the decks of cards, they could get in more repeitions.
In essence, you take away the excuse that they do not know what to do.
Note: I have seen this backfire. They bought the product and started working on it and the partner said, “how come we have to do it your way?” Fair question.
“We don’t. What other options would you suggest?”
Would you believe that they chose to not go through that material, not find other info, not talk to friends about improving it and the relationship did not magically get better? (I apologize for the dripping sarcasm)
Relationships take work. Do the work. Show initiative. If you care about it, you demonstrate that by action, not just by words. Don’t tell her that you love her, show her. Do the work.