Why Ultimatums Don’t Work

If you’ve ever run up against an ultimatum in a dispute with your partner you know that it’s a no- win situation. Either you do things their way or suffer the consequences. To give in means you lose your ability to take a stand, and if you do push back, you risk losing it all. In some cases it’s a matter of pride, and to give in means to give away your standing as an equal partner in the relationship. Either way, it’s not a healthy dynamic. 

Instead of putting your partner in a position where they have no choice, it’s far better to cultivate the art of compromise. Give each other room to express yourselves, and look at options to solve your issues that satisfy you both and put yourselves on the same side instead of locking horns in opposition. 

When you have deep love and respect for one another there is no need for ultimatums that will drive a wedge between you. “My way or the highway” can only end badly for you both. So throw away that line of thinking and instead of positioning yourselves on opposite sides of a question, move over to your partner side; try to see things from their point of view, listen to what they have to say about it and try to find a way to common ground. Don’t forget, this is the person you want to spend your life with. They need to feel secure that their happiness is just as important as yours. 

When you eliminate ultimatums and cultivate compromise, maintaining a loving relationship is easier to keep long term. 


About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.