Giving or receiving an “Ultimatum”? Things to consider…

What is an “ultimatum” exactly?

In any form of relationship, including a marriage, living apart together LAT, open relationship, long distance relationships, etc…there are moments when you reach an impasse. A standstill. This state might be alright for one, but not for the other. In order to break the stalemate, an ultimatum can come into play. In layman’s terms, and in the context of this article, an ultimatum is given when a partner confronts the other with a question that needs to be answered -or else- there will be consequences.

Why would some give their partner an ultimatum?

Usually you don’t handout ultimatums just like that. In fact, most relationships never go through an episode involving an ultimatum. An ultimatum is usually given when someone in a relationship has been wanting or expecting something from the other for a reasonably extended period of time, but they don’t get it, but more importantly: they have lost hope they will.

When someone issues out an ultimatum, they have already considered you saying “no”….and they are OK with it

The ultimatum creates a defining point. The person facing the ultimatum has to either answer the question, carry out an action, complete a promise, etc. or face the consequences. In many cases where the ultimatum includes marriage, having a family, or moving to another location, the fate of the entire relationship might hang on one response: yes or no.

For the one receiving the ultimatum

When you face an ultimatum from your partner, it could feel lice an ice cold kick in the chest. It can be shocking and disconcerting. But as bad as you feel, it’s very likely that you will feel much worse as you begin to wrap your head around the situation. One of the main points that you will need to consider, is that when someone issues out an ultimatum, they have already considered you saying “no”….and they are OK with it. Whatever the reason that inspired them to give you such a notice, it’s big enough for them to put the stability or existence of the relationship on the line.

…consider options other than “yes” or “no”. An ultimatum can also be the start of a negotiation…

Having said that, if you would accept this method for your partner to get what they want…what happens next time they want something? Is this the first of many ultimatums to come? It’s important to discuss if this is the new normal, or was this an action that was specific to a unique set of circumstances?

For the one issuing out the ultimatum

Extremely likely that your relationship will never be the same. Also very likely that that is exactly what you were looking for in the first place. For most partners it is a shock to get an ultimatum. This is usually by an extensive talk explaining the details of why the other feels this way…and these can be very very hard to digest.

It’s also very likely you have never given your partner an ultimatum before, so it wouldn’t be unusual that things get unusual. Expect a bit more of the unexpected when it comes to reactions, this position is also new for them.

Very important to consider options other than “yes” or “no”. An ultimatum can also be the start of a negotiation that gets close to a solution for more agreeable terms for all parties. Talk, talk, and talk as much as you can, as long as you keep talking, you stay in position to find a solution.

Some articles you might like: