Getting our needs met is not usually top of mind when we begin a new relationship. At the start of a new romance, everything is fun and easy. It is hard to imagine that one day you might have to work at keeping a relationship happy and healthy.
I’ve yet to hear a single person who has been married over 10 years say they haven’t had to work at it. Yet somehow, I thought my husband and I would be exempt as we sailed through so many years of marriage with nothing more serious than a dispute about whether one should wash or brush mushrooms. Ha! Now, 17 years into marriage, we have different opinions on how to best deal with sassy hormonal teenagers. This is a much more difficult topic to resolve than the mushrooms!
When I struggle with something I can’t resolve, I get outside professional help and look for helpful tools and resources. I recently bumped into a really helpful article, How to Have a State of the Union Meeting, by relationship therapist, Kimberly Panganiban.
Kimberly describes how important it is to have a regular weekly meeting with your spouse or partner. During this time, you acknowledge what is and isn’t working in the relationship (without blame or shame). This time is also critical to show your appreciation and to listen without trying to get your own agenda across. This is important to make your partner feel heard and understood. You take turns sharing and listening so that you both get the experience of being heard and appreciated. Then, the icing on the cake is to share with your partner one thing that they could do that would make you feel more loved in the coming week.
By checking in on a weekly basis, you continually improve your relationship by navigating concerns and issues before they become a larger problem or start to build up resentment. Although Kimberly didn’t mention it in the article, I’ve learned not to hold this meeting on a date night. Dates should be fun and light. They are a chance to enjoy your mate and relax. It is not the time or place to discuss difficult issues.
My personal adaptation to this meeting as outlined by Kimberly, is to tailor it to your own personal and emotional needs. Although being loved, appreciated, heard and understood are very common emotional needs, your needs may be different. There are over 100 different personal and emotional needs. You can find out what your top four needs are by taking the free Emotional Index Quiz. This quiz takes about twenty minutes to complete and provides an email report with your top four needs.
More often than not, when one isn’t feeling loved by their partner, the fix is simply a matter of being very specific about what you need. Yet most people can’t articulate what they need. Instead, they expect their partner to satisfy their needs in some version of, “If he loved me, he’d know what to do.” It is much easier to simply tell your mate what you would like.
Now you might be thinking, “If I tell my partner, won’t that spoil it?”
Oddly, no, unless one of your needs is to be surprised. In that case, you could give your partner a list of things that would work for you and let them choose one to surprise you. You can be direct and specific without appearing needy. In fact, by being direct and honest about what you really need, you will have a much better chance of getting your needs satisfied. Also, you will appear less needy, more confident, and more attractive.
You may also find it helpful to read my book, The Secret Laws of Attraction.