Needs and communication in relationships

Couple’s therapy. I always admire people who decide to go into couple’s therapy. That is a sign that they want to work on their relationship and understand each other.

I suppose you may already have noticed that all relationships require work. It does not matter if we are talking about friendships or love relationships or work relationships or partnerships. They all need work. They need time spent together; they need experiences experienced together. They need the stories, discussions, and reflections about the experiences lived together – debriefing. All these events are making relationships last or break.

If you pay attention, all these words end with “ship”: relation + ship, friend + ship, partner + ship. It is like there is a boat floating on the sea. A ship that carries all the people involved in that “ship”. For that boat/ship to sail, collaboration and work is needed.

Have you ever thought about how much time and resources do you invest in the people around you? What is it that you do to maintain the boats/ships you navigate in your everyday life? How much of yourself do you put into them?

I have noticed that most people tend to take family and friends for granted, that they will always be there. If that is true, why are so many divorces and so many broken families? Why aren’t children speak with their parents, or friends lose each other during time? None of this would happen if those people were there unconditionally. Not all of them are, and they don’t have to be either. Because people change over time, and it isn’t easy to keep close with all the people we would like. They change too. Life changes them in the same way it changes us. To maintain some of these relation + ships during time and space takes more effort than others do, and some can be toxic. It is good to become aware of the wrong relationships and let these people go even if they are blood relatives.

It is interesting how people are making so much more effort to maintain business clients and business relationships than they work to maintain a family. I’ve heard somewhere that we should treat family as they were our best business clients. Much more easily said than done, because there is so much more history and feelings involved in family relationships than in business relationships.

In marriages, for instance, which are based on being close every day and living under the same roof, and sharing a bed, it is still challenging to know very well the other. We think around 50 to 60 000 thoughts every single day. It is hard to share all of them with our partners. There is no need, either. We have assumptions based on previous experiences we had had before we were a couple. Some of the thoughts may hurt others if we share them.

In my therapy room, I find that this is a big challenge for the people who come to see me.

To give one example, I find that most women need reassurance. They need more attention from their partners, and they expect their masculine partner to understand that without being told. Unfortunately, few of us can read minds. Therefore, people do not know what we need if we do not tell them.

Men consider that if they stick to the relationship and do nothing more than just that, it is enough. Well, that is not entirely true. Some men need to contribute to the relationship every day and give that attention and reassurance their partner needs.

Metaphorically speaking, it is not enough for some women that their man gives them a huge bunch of flowers once. They need ONE flower every day. The challenge is that most women do not know how to ask their partner to give them a flower every day. Learning how to express needs can be an advantage.

Often, expressions like: “I need you to….” Or “ I would be pleased if….” or “could you please do me a favor and…” or “I would love if you….” Are much more helpful than “You never…..” or “you always…” or “you’re such and such…”

In our modern times, some women may not necessarily want flowers, but something that gives them the reassurance and attention they need. Such as cooking once a week, or every day, cleaning the house, take care of kids, arrange surprise dates every couple of months, wash her car and take it to the garage, buy flowers if that is what she likes, talk to her if she likes good conversations, and so on. When the woman in the partnership does not know how to ask for her needs to be met, then the man needs to pay attention to her habits and her everyday reactions. That also requires effort.

How all this information fits into your life and your experience with relationships?

How do you relate to all these efforts relationships need to resist time and sometimes space? Space, especially when we are living abroad and family and friends are miles apart.

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