It can be more than a little frustrating trying to read your spouse’s mind. Maybe you can’t read into a specific situation and tell whether your partner needs something or is angry and upset. It never hurts to ask how you can help directly or just let him or her know that you’re there to help or support. Showing you care and are willing to listen to your partner is typically well-advised.
Why people don’t ask
However, sometimes we just don’t know what a partner wants or needs and have a hard time asking. Why do people fail to ask for what they want directly? They don’t ask for several reasons, including:
- They think their partner should know what they want.
- They don’t believe they are worthy of asking
- Asking makes them feel vulnerable
- They feel like their partner is the enemy
Some people find it’s more in their comfort zone to be angry and disappointed instead of asking for something, as asking for what they need may make them feel uncomfortable. Asking for something means admitting you are needy, which is often seen as weak or dependent. Or, it may feel more like a power struggle, and there’s a score being kept. If you have to ask your partner for what you need, it may seem as if they have the upper hand, or you “owe them one.” Other times, people may find it challenging to ask for things in the proper form. Sincerity may be lacking, and there could be an attitude of entitlement or expectation. It doesn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of this type of expectation.
The therapists at Lindsey Hoskins & Associates, are compassionate and caring couples’ counselors, who want to help you understand how to communicate with your partner about what they are thinking, doing, want, or need in the most favorable way. In truth, if you don’t ask, you may not know how to respond appropriately. Plus, if you never ask for what you want, the answer is always “no.”
When to take a time out
When couples get into intense arguments, there is typically a physiological adrenaline-fueled reaction. Adrenaline is a hormone the adrenal glands release when there is acute stress. When an argument is only mildly heated, that is the best time to state simply and precisely what you want and need to feel better and stop continuing to make further points. However, since adrenaline is part of the body’s “fight or flight” response, you may be more hyped up and feel the need to have a physical fight or run away.
If you manage your actions when the anger level is mild, you can still think and behave as a loving spouse, and not an enemy. At that point, you may be best able to say what you need to end any misunderstanding or conflict. If a higher level of anger causes you to feel your spouse is the enemy, it is well-advised for you to take a time out. To continue arguing or making demands most often ends with more damage to the relationship, and more regret, as well. You won’t get your way or what you need from your spouse if you take regrettable actions that may cast a permanent shadow on your relationship.
In years of doing couples therapy, the therapists of Lindsey Hoskins & Associates have often seen arguments that don’t end because a partner is unable to ask for specifically what is needed to feel better. If you want to learn how to ask the questions, and open a dialogue into what you need, reach out to schedule couples’ counseling sessions with a Tysons Corner, VA therapist today.