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Learning to Speak Our Needs in Relationships

March 8, 2013
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Posted By: Counseling Center of Cherry Creek

“Why don’t you listen to me?!”

“He never talks about his feelings!”

“She punishes me by withholding sex.”

These are some of the most common statements I hear from people who come to my Cherry Creek counseling office and who I work with online. Have you ever said or been the recipient of such a statement?

Where Did You Learn to Speak Your "Relationship Needs?" 

Most of us learn to speak our needs through words that are pretty blaming of the other person. And most of us, when we feel blamed by someone, shut down, pull away, or fight back. Unfortunately, these reactions are not the best recipe for a happy and healthy relationship.

Think of something that you have said to your partner that has been blaming, such as "You don’t pay attention to me" or "Why are you always late?"

Now, get quiet and sit with your need behind the blame you gave to your partner. We all have some pretty basic universal needs:

  • Connection
  • Meaning
  • Fun/Play
  • Honesty
  • Physical Well-Being
  • Freedom/Autonomy
  • Safety/Peace

For example, if you are upset that your partner isn’t paying attention to you, your need for connection is not being met. When we learn ways to communicate this need without blame, shame, and guilt, we are much more successful in getting our needs met by the other person. I

Once you discover an unmet need, your request for compromise from your partner might sound like this:

“I notice that I feel hurt and sad when you work on the computer late into the night. I realize that I need to connect with you because you are important to me, and I value our relationship. Would you be willing to spend 30 minutes with me before I go to bed and before you get on the computer?”

This statement, and many others just like it, can go a long way toward making your relationship a happier and more fulfilling place to be. 

Start Practicing Speaking Your Relationship Needs Today!

Obviously, every interaction will not go perfectlybut I invite you to practice using words that express your needs without blame and see how this can transform your relationships.

Need help sorting out your relationship needs? Take advantage of our online Denver relationship coaching by calling us at (720) 457-3342 or visiting our website's home page to schedule a visit with one of our licensed counselors! 

If you have difficulty using our website, please email us or call us at (720) 457-3342
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