Getting My Needs Met

IMG_5491“I’m sorry.  I don’t understand why you are so upset.  I’ve tried, but I just don’t get it.  You’ll need to talk to someone else who may understand better than I do.”

This ice-water message came from my husband one evening while I was crying my eyes out over something that I’ve long since forgotten.  I’d always felt my husband had to understand everything about me.  When I was hurt about something, I looked to him to comfort me.  I expected him to come up with the perfect words to make me feel better.  Usually that meant he had to see things from my perspective, and if there was conflict involved, of course he had to take my side. I was often intensely disappointed with  his responses and ended up in tears, more upset than before.

This time his response was a turning point for me.  After the shock to my ego, which longs to be right and to be supported in my view of the world, I gradually came to accept that my spouse cannot fill every one of my needs. That’s why it is important to have good friends who I can go to for support.  Often, friends of the same sex can understand me better than those of the opposite sex.  Sometimes the best person I can talk to is a objective third party, such a good counselor, who knows how to listen and can help me sort things out. It’s important to get honest feedback. Being supportive does not necessarily mean agreement with me.  Some of the best support I have received over that years is from good friends and counselors who gently guide me to healthier thinking by asking me soul-searching questions.  And, I am usually more open to hearing them than I am my spouse.

Now just as I don’t expect my partner to enjoy the same movies I enjoy or talking about certain subjects as much as other friends do, I don’t expect him to understand all my feelings.  It’s not fair to anyone to expect them to be all things to me.  Nor does that lend itself to a healthy relationship.

What expectations am I placing on my spouse?  Expectations can lead to resentments.  Are my expectations fair and reasonable?

 Written October 15, 2010, The Committed Relationship

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