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express needs

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Joshua Isibor

In this article, we’ll be talking about how to express needs in a relationship… Without communication in a relationship, partners often feel like they aren’t loved like the other person doesn’t understand them. However, this problem arises as a result of not knowing what your partner actually needs.

Healthy couples, however, understand that knowing each other’s needs is very important for their relationship to last. It can be difficult to express needs in a relationship especially when you don’t want your partner to feel as though he or she hasn’t been fulfilling the necessary duties or has been incompetent over time. That is why it is important to understand how to approach the discussion and settle things before they go overboard.

The following guides to changing this narrative have been helpful, I’d like to share them with you;


1. Keeping an open mind:

The conversation can begin with a sly warning that your partner shouldn’t be offended if you tend to say things that might hurt him or her. Your sole intention should be to have a better relationship by telling them what you really want. The warning you lay should also apply to you too.

You shouldn’t be offended if they tend to say something that makes you feel hurt at that time. Talk about all the things you love about your partner, how much he provides you, and how you want to improve your relationship to ensure that you both stay happy and satisfied.

The key is to make sure you include your partner’s happiness in the discussion or it will seem as though you are attacking him with your wants and not considering his.

2. Open lines of communication:

The idea should be not to begin the conversation in the heat of an argument, this is because during this time, your partner is actively listening and the needs just go in through one ear and leave through the other.

The best way to express these needs is to initiate the conversation when everyone is calm and ready to listen. Be careful not to apportion blames, when you tell your partner what you’re feeling, you need to be careful to not vent or explode in a vague, accusatory way (“I’m angry/upset and you’re to blame!”) which may feel abusive, and isn’t productive. To keep the conversation as a problem-solving discussion rather than a heated argument, you want to accurately convey the nature, intensity, and cause of your feelings.

So before you begin the conversation, you’ll want to have expressed as much as possible the specifics of what you’ve been feeling.

The following can help you analyze your feeling;

  1. Add modifiers that accurately convey the intensity of your feelings. Have you been feeling a little resentful or a lot? Slightly discouraged or majorly depressed? Be honest here.
  1. How long have you been feeling this way? Have you been stressed since you lost your job or ever since you got married? Have you felt irritated for weeks or days?
  1. Avoid naming your partner as the cause of your feelings, no matter how tempting, and even if their actions have been the determinant factor. Blame brings defensiveness, not communication. What will result is a fight that doesn’t end up addressing the real problem whatsoever.

Instead, try to express the cause of your feelings in the form of their impersonal context, and describe your own feelings rather than those of the other person. You can accomplish this by using “I” statements rather than “you” accusations.

3.Be specific:

While trying to express your needs, avoid decorating the words you would choose to use, leave out analysis, interpretation, and inflammatory or accusatory language – try to make it as specific, impersonal, and objective as possible.

Check out these examples;

Our relationship has been rough lately

  • Our room looks like an exploded bomb
  • You spend like a maniac
  • I’m irritated by your nagging attitude
  • I’m tired of this marriage without sex
  • Why do your hands seem to be so sloppy
  • I’m always stuck at home, I’ve not gone to see friends in a long while..

Instead, use these

  • We have been fighting a lot in the last few days
  • You keep clothes and shoes scattered everywhere in our room
  • We have less than 200k in our account, you have been spending above the estimated budget
  • You give me too many reminders about a certain issue and it makes me uncomfortable
  • We haven’t had sex in three months
  • It makes me angry when you always drop things on the floor.
  • I’ve not had fun outside the house since we had the baby

Being specific helps your partner understand clearly what the issue is, without having to think over and over about it and this helps get over the problem as soon as possible.

Ask for a change in behavior only: It is very important to keep this in mind. Don’t expect your partner to change his or her values, attitudes, motivations, or feelings. These characteristics are very hard to change. It’s like asking someone to be taller or darker. People feel personally threatened if you ask them to change qualities that are seen as part of their very nature and beyond their conscious control. For example, what does it mean to ask someone to be ‘more loving’ or ‘less persuasive’ or ‘neater’? These kinds of requests are heard as attacks, and little real change is likely to result.

Instead of going after someone’s “core” attributes, and having them react defensively, stick with making a request that they modify a specific, observable behavior.

You can use words such as; It would mean a lot to me if you hugged me when I came home from work and asked me how my day was.

When you make your request, only tackle one situation and 1 or 2 observable behavior changes at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm your partner – they just shut down. Pick small changes that will make them feel like, “Okay, that’s reasonable. I can do that.” See if your partner follows through on those changes.

If they do, then bring up something else to work on down the line. It boils down to being specific, intentional, and polite while making those known.

Evenly share your needs: This can be very easy to do when you understand that both of you could have separate needs, so to make it easy, you can make a list of 5 or 10 things you would like to change each and evaluate each one individually.

4.Discussion Phase:

Once both of you have completed the phase where you get to write out your individual needs, the next would be to discuss the needs and see exactly what your partner needs, this will reduce the risk of misunderstandings.

Keep in mind however that these needs might not be temporary, you need to continually follow through by viewing the list from time to time to find out how to aid your partner.

If a discussion of the needs becomes heated and turns into an argument, take a break from it for as long as each of you needs to feel calm again.


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