Asking for what you want in a relationship is one of the keys to marriage success. Yet, it’s often uncomfortable asking for something. Especially in marriage. Below are eight tips on how to ask for what you want in your marriage.
Asking for what we want in our marriage can make us feel vulnerable. Yet, this honesty and openness are what creates intimacy.
By being vulnerable about your needs, you are making it easier for your partner to meet them. (They) no longer has to guess how you feel about something, or what something means to you. You are 100% responsible for sharing your inside world with the outside.(huffpost.com)
In This Article
- Why Is It So Difficult To Ask For What We Need?
- 1. We Simply Don’t Know What We Want
- 2. We Don’t Know How To Ask For Help
- Free eCourse on Effective Communication In Marriage
- 3. We Aren’t Sure It Will Change Anything
- 4. We Are Afraid Of WhatOur Spouse Will Think
- 5. We Feel Guilty For Wanting What We Want
- 6. We Want Our Spouse To Be Genuine In Meeting Our Needs
- 8 Tips On How To Ask For What You Want In Your Marriage
- What You Gain By Asking For Help
- Final Thoughts on Asking for What You Want In A Relationship
Why Is It So Difficult To Ask For What We Need?
There are many reasons we fail to ask for what we truly want. Before we explore HOW to ask, let’s make sure we know what we really want, and break the cycle of not getting our needs met.
We can break the cycle by exposing the reasons we fail to ask.
1. We Simply Don’t Know What We Want
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s easier to identify what we dislike than articulate what we do like.
I often hear couples complain about things they dislike about their marriage, yet those same couples have difficulty knowing what they really want.
Before you can ask what you want, you must be clear about what you DO want. If you want help getting clarity in your marriage, click here for several suggestions to help you drill down and explore your deep desires.
2. We Don’t Know How To Ask For Help
We will cover this in the next section. There is a skill in knowing what to say and how to ask for help (and getting our needs met). The next section will help you get a grasp of these principles of communication.
It might seem overwhelming coming up with the right words to express what we feel. It’s important to know that the exact words are not as important as the attitude we have and the ‘vibe’ we present when making our needs known.
How we come across to our spouse is often more important than what we say. The old adage comes into play here: Actions speak louder than words.
Sure, what we say impacts the conversation. But not as much as our attitude.
A simple rule of thumb is to always own your feelings. Here’s how:
Say things like, ‘I feel like…’ Not ‘You make me feel like…’
See the difference? When you own your feelings, you are taking responsibility for your life. Not putting the load on your spouse.
When we fail to own our feelings we tend to come across as blaming our spouse.
For help learning how to create the right atmosphere and have healthy conversations in your marriage, check out our free course: Effective Communication in Marriage.
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3. We Aren’t Sure It Will Change Anything
One barrier to open communication is when we feel it is pointless to talk. The thing that keeps the conversation moving forward is knowing we will be heard. When that is gone, it strips us of the desire to try.
Many couples sabotage their marriage by failing to push through the barrier and open the conversation.
When we fear rejection it keeps us from opening our hearts. This keeps us from ever getting our needs met, AND moving our relationship forward as a couple.
The practical truth is: If you don’t ask, you won’t receive!
4. We Are Afraid Of WhatOur Spouse Will Think
One man I met with was afraid to discuss his sexual desires and needs with his wife because he didn’t want her to think he was weird or only thought about sex. As I listened to him explain, I realized I knew many men who probably felt the same way. So they didn’t express their desires.
Note: Most men I deal with do not have ‘weird or unnatural’ sexual desires. Sure, their appetite is probably higher than their spouse, but it doesn’t fall into the abnormal range.
This is just one area where a spouse may be afraid to talk about their needs. There are hundreds of other scenarios.
Remember, marriage should be the safety zone where we can express our needs, desires, and wishes freely. When this freedom is not there, it is a sign of trust issues. Without trust, a marriage will struggle. Lack of real trust affects every aspect of married life.
If we have never spoken to someone about how we’re feeling before, we often worry about how they will react. We worry about them being angry, upset, or lost for words. We worry that they will feel unable to cope. We worry about the consequences of speaking to someone. We worry about whether they will tell anyone else.(blurtitout.org)
5. We Feel Guilty For Wanting What We Want
Not every desire or want we have should be given full attention. This would only lead us to be self-serving.
However, we should not apologize or feel guilty because we have a desire or need we want to be met.
Part of the beauty of marriage partnership is we get the opportunity to be known in a way where love is manifest on a deep level. This comes when we allow our needs to be known and our partner responds in a positive way.
One thing that destroys that kind of openness in marriage is when we feel embarrassed or shame because of our needs.Part of the beauty of marriage partnership is we get the opportunity to be known in a way where love is manifest on a deep level. This comes when we allow our needs to be known and our partner responds in a positive way. Click To Tweet
This can create a negative cycle that keeps us from expressing our needs, thus keeping us in a downward spiral of unfulfilled desires and unmet needs.
6. We Want Our Spouse To Be Genuine In Meeting Our Needs
Often this causes us to play a guessing game with our spouse. We expect them to read our minds. When they don’t we take it personally as if they don’t truly care.
We don’t want meeting our needs to be a burden or obligation, so we withhold asking for what we need and want. This is unhealthy.
It is not fair to expect our spouse to read our minds. Being clear about our needs and desires gives them the opportunity to love us well.
The real burden comes when we make them guess what we really want.
8 Tips On How To Ask For What You Want In Your Marriage
Once you tap into what you truly desire, it’s time to craft how to ask your spouse for what you want. Here are eight tips to help you communicate your needs.
1. Make Sure You Are Not Being Selfish
Too often what we want is so self-centered it violates the nature of marriage. A healthy relationship is one where we focus more on the needs, desires, and wants of our spouse than we do our own needs.
It’s not to say our needs are meaningless. On the contrary, this article is about how to get our true needs met. Making sure we are not self-centered doesn’t violate our needs, it merely puts them in the right perspective.
I like how Simon Sinek puts it. We are both individuals and part of a social group. Both are important. But it often presents a curious dilemma. When needs arise, do we pursue our individualistic needs or the needs of the group?
According to him, it is a false dichotomy. It is not “either/or.” It is “both/and.” It is possible to have MY needs met AND meet my spouse’s needs. They do not necessarily conflict. When and if they do conflict, the problem is bigger than the need. It is an indication that your marriage is possibly heading in two different directions.
Note: I’m not talking about issues of the moment. Things that are measured by a momentary desire – where to eat, when you will have sex next, where to take the kids on vacation – these should not be major conflicts. They are issues of the moment. They should not determine the scope of your relationship.
It is okay to have different desires on these issues. It’s not okay when they become the launchpad for marital conflict.
A simple rule of thumb: If what I want hurts my spouse, my desire is illegitimate. We talk about the concept of the priority of meeting our spouse’s needs in the video ‘The Marriage Wheel.‘
2. Know What You Want
It’s not enough to know what you ‘don’t want’ (what you wish was different), you need to be clear in your own mind about what you desire from your marriage.
Before you approach your spouse, make a list of 5 to 10 things you want in your marriage. Next, write a paragraph about why these are important to you.
Until you can answer that question, you aren’t ready to discuss the issues. The key is clarity.
3. Be Kind
This is not the time to rudely criticize your spouse for their shortcomings. If you want to ask for something in your relationship, be nice about it.
Remember, your spouse is not your enemy. So don’t approach them like it is a battle to be won. Discuss things like it is a joint venture that you both will enjoy.
4. Don’t Fight
Fights start for two reasons:
First, your spouse might feel insecure and interpret your request as a sign they are failing.
This is why you should approach them with love, kindness, and acceptance.
Second, there is no empathy in the conversation. Both parties are only interested in getting their point across.
Fighting is usually about control, not communication. This shift moves you away from problem-solving to ‘who is right and who is wrong.’ This is never healthy for your relationship.Fighting is usually about control, not communication. This shift moves you away from problem-solving to 'who is right and who is wrong.' This is never healthy for your relationship. Click To Tweet
When this becomes the agenda, you both lose. The key is to be clear about your needs, but also listen to your spouse to make sure you understand their needs.
Marriage is a give-and-take relationship. Both must occur. When it becomes one-sided for any length of time, frustration and disappointment will occur. If this is not addressed it leads to resentment. and becomes a toxic relationship.
Refuse to let the conversation erode into a fight. The goal is to communicate your needs and listen for feedback. See below.
5. Be Clear
This goes along with Tip #2 – know what you want.
I’ve met with couples who had a hard time saying clearly what they wanted in their relationship. They muddle along and never really say what is on their mind.
Also keep in mind tip #3, but don’t compromise clarity.
It might be helpful to have your spouse echo back to you what you have asked. This is not a manipulation trick or condescending act, it is to help clarify what you really want.
Clarity removes doubt and confusion.
6. Listen for Feedback
The Havard Business Review printed an article on the relationship between a mentor and a student. The article suggests getting the most out of the relationship you should listen more than you talk.
Spend time getting to know the person. You probably want to talk less than 30% of the time.(hbr.org)
I’m not suggesting that marriage should be viewed as a mentoring situation, I do believe the principle of listening is vital.
The purpose of asking for what you want is to make sure your spouse knows and understands your needs. The only way to ensure this is to get feedback. You can’t get feedback without listening.
This video from CareerBrainery lists four ways to listen and accept feedback:
Refuse to let feedback be a struggle for control in the relationship. It’s about dismantling arguments, not creating them. It is not an attack on your self-esteem. It is a platform to connect in a deeper way.
7. Give, Don’t Just Take
Zig Ziglar is famous for saying, “If you help enough people get what they want in life, you always have what you want.’
Another way to put it: If you want something, help others get what they want, and they will help you get what you want.
This is a great rule for marriage. When you live in such a way to help your spouse have the life they want, they are more inclined to help you get what you want. It’s a give-give situation.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘win-win.’ It’s where both parties in a negotiation win – they both get something good out of the deal. In marriage I like to call this ‘give-give.’ Both parties have the attitude of out giving their spouse. This way they both receive good things.When you live in such a way to help your spouse have the life they want, they are more inclined to help you get what you want. It's a give-give situation. Click To Tweet
For more information on how this works, watch our video on ‘People with No Elbows.’
8. Expect A Positive Outcome
It’s amazing how our expectations influence the outcome of our decisions.
I was recently part of a training session with new salespeople. During the Q&A session, someone asked, ‘What’s the most important tip you can give a new sales rep when they are calling on new clients?’
I responded, ‘Expect good rapport.’ I went on to explain that if you approach a new prospect with a negative attitude or a rejection mentality, you will more than likely experience it. How you perceive the other person is usually how they respond back to you.
I told the team, “You must assume each person who meets with you WANTS to meet with you because they believe you have a solution to their problem. As long as you believe both of those things – they have a problem they want to be solved, and you have that specific solution – you will not fail.”
The same principle applies to all relationships. We usually get what we give. It’s the law of reciprocity – sowing and reaping. If you send out negative signals, you will get back negative feedback.
This is why it is important to know what you really want, clearly communicate it, and expect positive feedback and rapport.It is important to know what you really want, clearly communicate it, and expect positive feedback and rapport. Click To Tweet
What You Gain By Asking For Help
Let’s close with three positive benefits of asking for what you want in your marriage.
1. You Keep Your Marriage Moving Forward
When you fail to ask for what you want, you feel stuck. Frustration builds over time because your needs aren’t being met.
When you ask for what you need, you give your spouse an opportunity to express their love for you. This keeps marriage moving in the right direction.
2. You Solidify Your Marriage As a Team
Working together creates a strong bond. Couples who share a passion for a common cause score higher on the marital happiness scale than couples who do not share a common purpose.
This is why having problems that need to be solved is not the end of a relationship; often it is the beginning of a stronger marriage. When you conquer a problem together, you create a shared experience. You bond.
3. You Get To Know Your Spouse Deeper
The more we share with our spouse, the deeper the connection becomes. This is the magic of long-term relationships. Depth comes over time. And it is forged through conflict resolution.
When we open our heart to share our needs and desires with our spouse, we not only give them the opportunity to love us well, but we also give them (and ourselves) an opportunity to know each other better.
Final Thoughts on Asking for What You Want In A Relationship
It is not always easy asking for what we want in a relationship. Learning to be clear about what we desire and need gives our marriage an opportunity to grow deeper and create more meaningful intimacy.
Having the right attitude and mindset as we communicate with our partner is vital for our marriage.
We covered six reasons we often fail to ask for what we want, then we explored eight tips on how to ask our spouse for what we need.
Here is a brief recap:
- Why Is It So Difficult To Ask For What We Need?
- 8 Tips On How To Ask For What You Want In Your Marriage
- What You Gain By Asking For Help
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