80/20 Principle: Finding the Sweet Spot in your Partner

Do you believe you have “tried everything” and are still struggling to get the results you want from a distant or angry partner?

Most of my clients come seeking my help with this exact same complaint and I ask them if they have heard of the 80/20 principle.

The principle states that 80% of your results in your life only come from 20% of your inputs.

Did you mind just explode?

You too can utilize this simple and profound strategy to immediately start seeing results that add up fast! But how do you find the 20% that actually matters?

This is the tricky part. To illustrate this point I will use a case example.

I worked with a couple previously who was struggling with their marriage because the husband acted angry and hostile towards the 3 children. This in turn severely upset the wife who was considering leaving the husband.

Both parents had long working hours, their youngest daughter needed significant attention due to her age, and the husband was stressed because of a remodel that he was doing to the entire family home.

When I asked both of them what their 20% of their inputs were into their marriage, they began to identify the behaviors in which they themselves believed would make the other happy and less stressed. They not once ever analyzed the results that they were getting from their inputs.

The husband reported how he was trying to discipline the children to do their chores without having to be asked to decrease the amount of housework the mother had to do in order to reduce her stress. Quickly did he learn from his wife’s response that this was NOT anywhere close to her 20%!

The wife reported how she was trying to take care of the children and focus on keeping them out of the father’s ways, while he remodeled. She believed that the less the children bothered the father, the more he could accomplish with the renovation, and the less stressed he would feel. Quickly did she learn from her husband’s response that this was NOT anywhere close to his 20%!

I then worked with the couple on identifying the 20% their partner could begin to put into action to reach the goals the couple came into coaching with.

The husband reported how he wanted to spend more time alone with his wife because he believed she was always focusing on the children and always too tired to have sex due to the amount of housework she had to do. The husband reported that he wanted to begin to go out on a date night at least 1 night a week with his wife and that he wanted to spend time each day for at least 30 minutes alone talking with his wife, without any interruptions or distractions. The husband reported that this was the main reason he became so frustrated with the children and would be hostile towards them when they didn’t do their chores or interrupted them while they were talking.

The wife reported how she would gladly be able to do this with him if he would spend time picking up after himself when he is done a remodeling job. The wife also wanted him to start talking more calmly towards the children when they failed to remember to do their chores and start playing more with the children when he had time in the evening. The wife reported that it was difficult to become emotionally connected to the husband and initiate sex when he only interacted with their children in a hostile and angry manner.

Both agreed to each other’s terms and started to stick to these realistic expectations from each other. Within 2 weeks the husband and wife reported feeling like a light switch was turned on and they were actually getting the results that they had desired from one another for so long. 

Take a look at your 20% and identify whether your inputs are really the 20% your partner is looking for. The 20% is not what you believe it should be, but what you’re partner wants it to be. 

If you want your results from your partner, start giving them exactly what they want, regardless of whether you agree with them or not. 

If you don’t agree with them and are not willing to fulfill them, you may want to consider finding a new partner or being alone. This is selfishness in its simplest form.