Sometimes couples become upset with each because their needs are not being met. However, often, the spouse has no idea what the other one needs. Learning how to clearly communicate your needs to your spouse can make a big difference to your marriage and your personal happiness.
Avoid Making Assumptions
Sadly, many people struggle to clearly express their needs to their spouse. Instead, they think “she should already know” or “I shouldn’t have to ask.” It’s important to remember that your spouse isn’t a mind reader. If you don’t ask, your spouse won’t know.
Don’t ever make assumptions that your spouse will just recognize what you need. Men and women think differently. It’s a proven fact that their brains work differently. These differences can make it difficult for your spouse to guess what you want or need. No matter how long you have been married, it’s unlikely your spouse will ever become proficient at guessing what you need.
Make Assertive Requests
Communicating your needs requires a willingness to be assertive. There’s nothing wrong with asking for something when you need it. Just be aware that your spouse has a right to say no.
If you don’t like the way your spouse is behaving, it’s okay to speak up. Use “I” messages to communicate how you feel and point out the specific behavior you dislike. Then clearly state what you want to see instead.
For example, if your spouse teases you in front of friends in a way that you don’t like, speak up assertively. Say something such as, “It really hurts my feelings when you make those comments. I don’t find them funny. Please stop teasing me like that.” It’s clear, to the point, and expresses the problem.
Don’t Make Too Many Demands
It’s important to remember not to depend on your spouse for everything. Make sure that you aren’t asking your spouse to do things that you can do on your own. This can include little things such as frequently saying, “Can you get me a glass of water?” or “Can you get my phone charger for me?” Constantly asking for things you don’t need can cause your spouse to grow resentful.
Also, remember that each demand you make of your spouse takes away the opportunity for your spouse to freely give you something. For example, if you tell your spouse you want him to start making dinner every night, it takes away the opportunity for him to do so out of his desire to please you. It can be less rewarding if he does so because you told him to.
It’s important to find a balance. You need to express your needs in a way that you are able to get your needs met. However, ask for too much and make too many demands and you’ll risk damaging the relationship.
Manage Your Reactions to the Response
When you make a request of your spouse, it is important to recognize your spouse has the right to say no. If your spouse doesn’t want to do what you are asking or feels he can’t meet your request, you have some decisions to make in how you respond.
If your spouse declines your request, take look at your reaction. Do you lash out? Do you nag or beg your spouse to change his mind? Do you complain? Or do you try to get even? Reactions such as these are likely to further damage the relationship.
If you are angry about your spouse’s refusal to your request, take time to calm down before you really respond. Once your calm, you may be better equipped to deal with the issue in a more rational way.
Talk to your spouse about your feelings once you feel calmer. Also consider meeting your own needs. For example, if you had requested that your spouse attend a meeting at school with you for your child and he refuses, consider finding another supportive person to attend with you.
Don’t let your spouse’s behaviors influence the likelihood that you will meet his needs. If your spouse declines a request from you, don’t try to get even by saying you won’t do something for him. For example, “Well you didn’t go with me when I asked you to, so now I’m not going to help you with that.” This type of response will cause damage to the relationship.
Work toward meeting your spouse’s needs. When your spouse can’t meet your needs, or doesn’t want to, consider meeting your own needs.
When your spouse does do what you’ve asked for, make sure to respond positively. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate his efforts. Compliment your spouse and discuss how your spouse’s behaviors were helpful to you. Remember to do nice things for your spouse without being asked as well. Extra chores, back rubs, and compliments are always appreciated whether your spouse asks for them or not!