If there’s one thing I love about my significant other is that he makes me smile even when I don’t feel like it. There are days when I look at him and the whole world stands still. But then there are days when I just want to bury my head in the sand from arguing with him. Have you been there? If you haven’t, you probably will at some point in your relationship. It certainly doesn’t have to be like that if you learn how to argue or challenge each other in a positive and nurturing way.
Well, I’ve been focused for quite some time on finding ways that couples can fight in an effective and non-threatening way and still get their needs met. Now this can be quite a contradiction. Especially, since men and women can be so different in the way they express themselves. The more I work with women, the more I realize how much they need to express themselves in a relationship whether good or bad. The need to get their thoughts and feelings off their chest are paramount. Men, on the other hand, don’t share this same need. As a matter of fact, they would rather avoid the whole thing altogether!
One thing that is constant between both sexes is the need to get our needs met. We both have a yearning to get something out of the relationship. However, the way we go about it isn’t always the best to generate the most effective results. For example, let’s say she wants more affection from him at home while he needs more appreciation from her for the things he already does at home. In other words, she’s starving for love and reassurance and he’s starving for recognition. Simply put, both are starving to get their needs met but can’t seem to get across to the other person in a positive and meaningful way.
So how do we come together and get on one accord? As I’ve done research in my own life, through the lives of other couples I’ve observed, and the enormous wealth of information from a number of relationship experts on this subject, I’ve come up with my own theory. Below, I’ve outlined a few steps for challenging each other in a positive way and ensuring your needs are heard and accepted.
1. Stick To The Issue At Hand – When we get mad at our mates, we tend to get into a pattern where we bring up old issues besides the one at hand. Then before we know it, we’re lost in conversation and attacking the person for issues that have already been settled or buried and have no relevance to the one you’re currently facing. By the end of the conversation, the current issue is still unresolved and our partner doesn’t even know what we wanted in the first place. Hint: Prioritize your issues!
2. Don’t Attack Your Partner – Golden Rule! The worst thing you can do in a relationship, particularly when you are in the middle of an argument is attack the character of your partner. In comparison to boxing, you’re “hitting below the belt”. When you attack your partner, you open up the door to having your character assaulted as well. Women become more emotional and men shut down completely. Meanwhile, the issue you want to address lies dormant while your partner’s feelings just got crushed. Hint: Attack the issue not the person!
3. Create A Win/Win – The best thing you can do is to create little “win/wins” for your partner while maintaining your need to get what you want. When thinking of your needs, consider their needs as well. For example, if you want him to take you out more, then also be willing compromise and cook dinner at home when he has had a long day at work. Using this same example, you could also make it worth his time and interest by offering to go to places he’ll enjoy as well so that he gets something out of it too. Think big picture. You want to be successful in the relationship and that entails the two of you being happy and fulfilled together. Hint: Consider their needs too!
4. Let Your Partner Know How Much It Means To You – Our mates are not mind readers! Sometimes they need a little nudge from us about our needs and what getting those needs met really means to us. This may sound crazy but think about how kids ask for what they want. They usually give us big doe-like eyes as they ask and it’s as if their whole world will be turned upside down if we don’t give it to them. Well, you don’t have to go overboard in a dramatic way but just letting your partner know how much something really means to you can do wonders for you in actually getting that need fulfilled. Hint: Let Them Know It Means A Lot!
5. Give Your Partner Some Space To Consider Your Needs – Once you’ve asked for what you need, give your mate a little space. Allow them the space to consider what you want and how they may go about giving it to you. If you ask for what you want and then demand they give it to you now, you’ll seem selfish and impatient. Not to mention, you’ll have turned them off and they may actually reject you altogether. Besides, they may be in the process of not only giving you what you need but doing it in a way that you never imagined.
(Hint: Be Patient!)
6. Don’t Let Others Dictate Your Relationship – Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our needs, we tend to invite others into the conversation that’s meant to be had with our partners. This includes having casual, nonchalant conversations with our family members, friends, co-workers, and others who really don’t have a clue what’s really going on inside of our relationships. All they can do is speculate based on what “we” have told them. They have to be on your side so your partner never has a chance to defend him or herself. That’s not very fair. When it comes to your needs, keep it between you and your partner. Besides, if you tell them how bad or unloving your mate is and then you go back to that person next week, they’ll be confused and may not believe you the next time something happens. Hint: Keep your love affairs private! Disclaimer: we’re not talking about abuse in which case telling your family and friends is always acceptable.
In short, relationships teach us a lot about ourselves. Our partners are like our own mirror images. They are there to help us grow and be a better person. It’s no coincidence that relationships are the most challenging area of our lives that we’ll ever encounter. It is in this space that our true growth and identity lies. Cultivating and nurturing relationships is where we get our needs met. Through positive reinforcements like win/wins, staying out of “attack mode”, being focused on the task at hand, letting them know how much a thing really means to us, giving our partners some space, and not allowing others to dictate our relationship is where we can find success. There’s no need for drama when we have our partner’s best interest at heart. When we consider our needs, the needs of our partners, and the success of the relationship, we’ll be just fine.
Thanks for reading!