In our society, it’s often okay to have needs but not to have wants. People choose not to voice their wants for a lot of reasons. I often meet people who are fearful of sharing wants because they do not want to impose a change on their partner. If a person spends enough time in a relationship without voicing what they want, resentment can build. Before you know it, it’s been years of not getting what you want out of your relationship and you have no idea how you got there. Here are some quick tips that can help you begin striving for more out of your relationships.
It is vitally important that when trying to strive for the best, that you figure out what you expect from others. There’s a fine line between actions that you’ll accept from others, and actions you are not willing to accept. In order to strive for more, reevaluate your expectations. In a marriage, there are often unspoken expectations that are the source of routine conflict. In order to figure out how to solve the conflict, you have to first figure out why the conflict exists in the first place. I expect my partner to not look at their phone during dinner. Why is that? That shows me that they are interested in me. I expect my partner to give me compliments. Why? It lets me know they still desire me. Spend time by yourself, thinking about what you are willing to accept and what you’d like to change.
After you discover what your expectations are, fill your partner in. Use an “I” statement to help communicate your desires. For example, “I feel important when you put your phone down when I begin speaking to you. When I feel important, I want to spend more time with you.” Enlist your partner in trying to kickstart your exercise goal, “I want to be more active but I want an accountability partner. Can we start going on walks together every night?” This helps your partner know what you are actually wanting!
Do you ever find yourself with an upset partner and have no idea what you did? Are you ever upset because your partner couldn’t read your mind? I often challenge couples to reveal their assumptions of what the other person is thinking and feeling. Couples often find that their assumptions about their partners are wrong. Shocker! You’d be surprised at how often you can be wrong about what is going on with your partner. Spend time everyday checking in with your partner. “Hey, how are you really doing today? Is there anything I could do to make your day better?” It’s often scarier to voice your wants out of the blue. People tend to voice their wants when an opportunity is presented to them.
Through the course of a relationship, it can be easy to get distracted with daily stresses and forget that life is supposed to be fun. How has your idea of fun changed over time? Have you forgotten about a hobby that you used to love? Spend time coming up with new ideas for you and your partner to do together. Set up a date night or a mini-vacation with your partner. Surprise them with a pre-planned date or agree to take turns planning dates. Schedule your fun time! If it’s on the schedule you’re more likely to follow through!
If you find it difficult to communicate expectations with your partner and want more out of your relationship, we can help. Feel free to call us at (616) 929-0248 or check out our website and other counselor blogs.