Say What You Need
by Cameron Schaefer
My wife and I have been married now for a year and a half…not very long, especially to be giving marriage advice, I know, but it has been a wonderful time and I can’t help believing that there are some fundamental pieces to our relationship that have made it so fulfilling and successful thus far. In my effort to share with my readers lessons in skilled living, I give you this piece of advice that has truly transformed the way both my wife and I think about our relationship: say what you need.
I must give credit to Aaron Stern, our pastor at the time and pre-marital counselor, for this wonderful concept. It was during our intense sessions of confessions and hypotheticals that he blessed us with this gem of wisdom.
Tell your partner what you need. It seems obvious, but what often happens is that one person wants something, but feels that their partner should know to fulfill that need without having to be told or asked. When the need goes unmet, bitterness and frustration ensues with one person being mad that their need wasn’t met and the other being angry because he or she was expected to read the other’s mind. This battle is a very common one faced by couples, but is such a easy fix. Just tell your partner what you need.
For example, sometimes when we’re walking down the street my wife will simply say, “Babe, I want you to hold my hand,” or every once and a while, “I would like it if you bought me flowers sometime this month.” From my side, “Wifey, would you get up early and make me a big breakfast tomorrow?” This is probably shocking to some people reading this, who like me when I first heard it, are probably thinking, “where’s the romance in that?” The fact is, you have to trust your spouse enough to know that they have your best interests at heart and truly want to serve you, its just that all of us from time to time need some hints…no matter how long people are together it is hard to consistently read your partner’s mind. Again, it may seem a bit mechanical at first, but I guarantee it will prevent thousands of fights and hurt feelings and enable you to maintain a healthy relationship.
This doesn’t mean that you are off the hook when it comes to anticipating the needs of your spouse, it is just a way to help the process. In reality, most of the time it is not really about the flowers or the breakfast, it’s about a greater need. For my wife, holding her hand is a public affirmation of my love for her; flowers are a symbol that I’m thinking about her throughout my day. For me, my wife waking up to cook me breakfast tells me that she wants to serve me. We all understand these things in theory, but many times we need help in knowing how to fulfill these desires. Say what you need.