I love the Starbucks app. Now I have a relationship with Starbucks where they know what I want and need, without me having to ask for it. I just show up at the store, i say hi to somebody behind the counter, and they have my drink all ready.
Too bad marriage isn’t like this. We have to ask for what we want, to get what we want.
We sometimes expect our spouses to read our minds, but they don’t have that superpower. That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good news: We can do something about it, and get our wants and needs met in our relationship.
In order To avoid criticism and blame in your marriage, talk about your feelings using I statements (“I feel…”) and express a positive need (“I need…”).
If need works for you, that’s cool. I’m not actually a fan of the word need, and prefer want. I want this, I want that, seems more like a request than a demand. But sometimes we “need” to make a demand, put a line in the sand, set a boundary. That’s ok too.
This means saying what you want or need, not what you don’t need.
I could use your support
I don’t need you to tell me what to do.
Hear the difference?
People don’t usually think about what they need when they’re upset. Instead they think about what their partner should stop doing wrong.
Within every negative feeling there is a longing, a desire, and, because of that, there is a recipe for success. The positive need is about highlighting ways in which your partner can show up for you, but they could use some help, or they’d be doing it. This is also showing that you’re giving them the benefit of the doubt.
There’s a saying in Al Anon-“They’re not doing it to you, they’re just doing it.” We need to teach people how to treat us, and ask for what we want.
So ask yourself: What is one thing I want from my partner, that I can ask for?
Couples Counseling Mountainside
Chuck Beardsley, LCSW is a level-3 Gottman couples counselor, and is a level 3 Relational Life Counselor. Chuck utilizes Mindfulness, ACT, and other contemplative practices in his work with individuals and couples.
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