Understanding Your Spouseís Needs and Wants Use these 4 tips to connect with your spouse and get the things you want. BY MARY LOYER
With just a few steps you can get your spouse to respond the way you want.
“ Identify the concrete actions without evaluating or judging your spouse as stupid or purposely acting against you.”
Have you ever been frustrated when your husband didnít clean the kitchen the way you would have, or when your wife put your tools away in the wrong drawers so you couldnít find them? Perhaps you even shake your head thinking that your spouse just doesnít "get it" sometimes? This can be a natural conclusion since men and women generally think differentlyóa man might not see the socks on the floor on his way back to the garage to finish an important project just as a woman may not finish her project right away because she notices the socks on the floor and then the dishes in the sink.
Iíve talked to numerous couples whom have been frustrated when they asked for what they wanted only to find their spouses not coming through. One woman, Amy, complained to me that her husband, Jerry, started to bring his laptop to the dinner table to finish some work from the office. She was deeply hurt by this, as she always looked forward to their quality time at dinner to catch up from the day and re-connect. When I asked her if she brought this to Jerryís attention to explain how much she looked forward to spending quality time with him at dinner, she through her arms up and said, "AbsolutelyóIíve brought it up three times, and he just seems to get upset every time!" Then I asked her what she said to him, wondering to myself why Jerry would be so upset when she told him how much she loved spending time with him. When she revealed the words she used to propose more quality time at dinner it became very clear why it turned into a fight over and over again.
The Wrong Response and 4 Steps to Turn Things Around
Amy reenacted her request and exclaimed, "Jerry, you are always on that computerówhen are going to turn it off? At least turn it off at the dinner table." Amy grew very upset just remembering the incident and couldnít understand how Jerry didnít know that bringing his laptop to the dinner table was a big no-no. After helping Amy calm down, I shared four steps to use when asking for what she wants that changed everything for her.
1. Notice the behavior: Identify the concrete actions without evaluating or judging your spouse as stupid or purposely acting against you (i.e. He brought the laptop to the dinner table. He didnít say, "I donít care about you."). Ask yourself, "Could there be a good reason for this behavior?"
2. Get clear on your expectations: What are you expecting your spouse to know or do in that situation? How does it make you feel and what do you think about them when they donít respond the way you think they should have? Thereís no way for them to read your mind about your expectations no matter how much you think you give good clues.
3. Request what you need clearly and state why it is important to you: Request a concrete action that can be carried out in the present moment (i.e. "When I see that you havenít taken out the trash, I feel stressed because I like to have a clean-smelling kitchen and the trash stinks when itís full. I know you might be focused on something else and may not notice it. Would you be willing to take the trash out for me when I remind you that itís full?" Or "When I see you shopping a lot, I get very stressed out because I pay the bills and I know we are on a limited budget. Would you be willing to talk to me before you buy things so we can figure out a way to make it work with our monthly expenses?)
4. Offer appreciation for their efforts: We all like to be appreciated donít we? Many of us respond to appreciation as if someone put fuel in our tank. When your spouse has answered your request or even attempted to give you what you need, be sure to give appreciation for their efforts. They will want to do whatever it takes to get more of that next time (i.e. "Thank you for taking out the trash! The kitchen smells great and I feel so at peace now!" Or, "Thank you for checking in with me before you bought those shoes. We have a surplus in our budget for this monthís expenses. I can't wait to see you in your new shoes!")
Amy learned to ask specifically for what she wants and she realized that what is obvious to her isnít always obvious to her husband. Using these four steps helped her acknowledge and appreciate how hard Jerry was working, and how he felt attacked for his hard work when she asked him to turn off his laptop. Instead, she expressed how much she loved connecting with him at dinner and, understanding the demands of his work. She simply asked, "I know you probably have so much work to catch up on, but is there any way you might be able to finish it after dinner? Iíve missed you today and would love to have a moment to connect with you." I remember the next day, Amy called with joy and excitement in her voice and exclaimed, "Guess what?! Jerry and I enjoyed an amazing dinner last night, and he told me all about this new project heís working on at work that heís excited about. I got to share with him the plans I want to make for our summer vacation this year! We havenít connected like that in a long time!" She mentioned that Jerry didnít realize how important dinner time was to her. Once she asked him specifically for what she wanted, he was willing to give her that time. Amy was also willing to help Jerry after dinner, which he really appreciated too.
Mary Loyer is the Founder of Red Lipstick Inc.www.redlipstickinc.com. For more than 10 years, Mary has passionately led women to find their true feminine power, understand men and create amazing relationships. Inspired by her career in the beauty industry and her dedication to personal growth, Mary continues to search for ways that women can have harmony with men. Today, Mary speaks, lectures and writes about many issues that can cause frustration in relationships. She finds the humor and brings lightness to all of it. She is noted as an inspiring coach who inspires women to be confident, celebrate life and be as bold as red lipstick.