It’s the 21st century, you’re married and live in the Bay Area. Life is busy and super expensive and therefore stressful. Could you benefit from a tip to make marriage easier?
Are you effective in your interpersonal relationships? If you answer “yes”, I will guess that you have learned to ask for what you want, and do it directly enough. If you do it in some relationships, such as at work, can you do it in your marriage?
Partners who ask for what they want experience decreased resentment and fewer hurt feelings. Let’s take an example:
Bill and Sandy argue a lot. The arguments go nowhere and are not resolved. After 4 years of marriage and a child, they are ready to call it quits. They tell me that they do ask for what they want, but in my office, they only blame and accuse each other.
Bill says “I’m sick of this. I come home and she dumps on me. I’m a good person. Why should I have to put up with this?”
What does Bill want? What is he asking for?
Sandy says “He’s just mad because we have so much to do. We have jobs, a house and a baby! What does he expect from me? He never helps me, he just goes online and disappears!”
What does Sandy want? What is she asking for?
Bill and Sandy resent each other and the situation they are in. Along the way, both have experienced hurt feelings. They don’t talk or act in ways that result in either one feeling loved, wanted and valued.
What if Bill said this instead: “Sandy, you are a great Mom, and I know you also work really hard at your job. We could not live in this house and have the lifestyle that we do without the contribution you make, and I appreciate that. I’m feeling a bit lonely these days. Could I ask you for something that would make me feel good? I would like it if when I come home, you give me a hug and a kiss. Would you be willing to do that?
What if Sandy said instead: “Bill, you are a great Dad. Our baby is so excited to see you because you play with her so well. I know you are tired at the end of the day because you also try to do such a good job at work. We live in this neighborhood and are able to take nice vacations because you are so responsible, and I appreciate that. I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed these days. Could I ask you for something that would make me feel good? When you come home each day, I would feel very cared for if you asked me “What can I do to help? ” Would you be willing to do that?
It’s an interesting idea, asking for what you want. What do you want from your partner?