“Do I say something or not?”
“How come I can’t decide if this is a big deal or not?”
“It seems small, but I’m really upset”
When you are upset about something your partner (or friend or family member) does, it can be helpful to “put it in a basket” as a way or guiding your decision about how to handle it.
BASKET 1… is a large basket with three things inside… the little stuff, the stuff you know they cannot change (and was there from the beginning), and the stuff that is not your business. The socks on the floor, the noise when they brush their teeth, the crumbs on the counter, the love handles, the smelly feet, their personal finances, their job, their body…all the stuff that we ignore because we want our little stuff ignored too. If we harped about basket one stuff all the time, we’d be constantly bickering.
BASKET 2… Is the stuff that’s big enough to talk about, but not big enough that you can tell someone what (or what not) to do. The stuff your partner does that affects you enough that you want to say something because you want them to know you and your sensitivities. When you address a basket 2 issue you are saying “I care about us enough to want to make this better”, and “I trust that you care enough to listen to this”. Basket 2 issues do not have to dissolve into an argument. They can be delivered simply and without a lot of words. Try “When you_________, I feel ________.” You are informing your partner about how their actions affect you. You are not blaming them for your emotions or criticizing them. Keep a calm voice and deliver the information clearly without a million words.
BASKET 3… This basket is where you put the big ticket items…the stuff you absolutely have to have in a relationship. When you don’t get these things, you can use strong language like “That’s not okay with me.” or “Don’t do that.” This is the only basket where you get to tell someone what to do. Save it for things like honesty, fidelity, respect. “Don’t lie to me” “I won’t talk to you if you disrespect me.”
Are you putting things in the wrong basket? If you are silent about basket 3 stuff, you are doing yourself a disservice. If you are ranting about basket 1 stuff, you are doing other people a disservice. Think about it.