Michael is a huge fan of Real Madrid, so he obviously wants to watch the Champions League on TV when his team is playing. However, his wife hates football, so he hardly ever gets the chance.
When Real Madrid made it into the semi-finals, he asked his wife: “Darling, I know we had planned to spend the evening together, just you and me tonight, but do you think it would be ok if I watched the football?”
With this question, Michael has created a situation in which his wife can only ‘lose’.
Either she agrees, and he can watch his game. Or she insists on having their evening together as a couple, in which case Michael will stay in his role as a ‘victim’.
In his victim role, Michael’s thinking is: “as usual, she didn’t let me watch the game”, and he has ‘permission’ to be miserable, to feel like he is being unfairly treated and to demand some kind of recompense.
Either way, Michael ‘wins’.
A victim delegates decisions in order to remain a victim. Anyone can play the victim in any situation where there is a conflict of interest. This can be in all sorts of areas: finances, sex life, vacation choices, family planning and more. The pattern is always the same: you decide, and I am allowed to be upset and grumpy.
This victim mentality is quite subtle and often barely noticeable, but it appears in many relationships. Those who can spot this type of behaviour and manage their conflicts in a more healthy way will often find a ‘win-win’ solution whenever there is a clash of interests.
So, how can Michael handle the situation better?
In a nutshell: by not delegating decisions to his wife.
Instead, he would be better off sharing his needs and making positive suggestions.
For example: “Darling, I know we had planned to spend the evening together, just you and me, but I would like to watch football tonight because I’d really like to see my team play. Could we move our evening together to Friday? Would that be possible, or have you got another suggestion, so that we can do both this week – watch the game and spend an evening together?”
Moving to the next level in your relationship:
When or where am I behaving like a victim by delegating my decision-making responsibility? How could I phrase things better?
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