When we marry, we drag a lot of needs and expectations into the relationship. There’s no way around it, it’s human nature. This doesn’t make us “bad,” it makes us “needy,” and “expecting” a lot. Alas, it’s the law of relationship, one of many. The more we learn about these “laws,” the better our relationships become, as we get in touch with how much we need, and how we are projecting those needs onto our partner, “expecting” them to meet them. We will punish them for not “meeting up,” whether consciously or subconsciously.
Our fairy tale beliefs and thinking convince us that a “happy marriage” will be conflict-free. This is a deception because conflict exposes our needs and expectations if we will be honest with ourselves and own up to them. Conflict pushes us into this process if we will open our eyes to it and become self-aware. This is the way.
Talk or Punish
Denial creates our self-made prison of misery. When I’m in denial, I’m unaware of what I am doing and focusing on what my partner should be doing. I may naively think,
She should know what I need, why is she withholding?
Without telling them our needs, we will project them onto our intimate other. When I try to get something from Linda without words, I can push her away creating distance, believing she is the problem. In truth, I have the problem, (my unmet need.) There is no bridge to cross to figure out what is going on. Words, questions, and answers provide one. Both partners need to use the bridge. This is how you resolve the issue at hand.
Neediness without communication punishes. It’s unfair to punish her for what I can’t communicate. I get free when I can see what I’m doing and stop. How can she meet my needs if I myself cannot articulate them? Self-discovery makes this possible.
Communicating and negotiating is the pathway to truthful emotional relating. Intimacy cannot exist without risk and trust. Without this, you will remain on a game-playing level of relating. We need to leave the dating- game and learn to love, going deeper than just getting what I need, apart from caring about the feelings, needs, and desires of another. This is selfish loving at best. We have a much greater potential than this.
I Need, I Need
This is a line from “What About Bob.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a hilarious movie illustrating a boundary-less relationship between a counselor, Richard Dreyfus, and his “patient,” Bill Murray. Bill’s neediness defines the relationship, and Richard’s lack of boundaries enables an awful tailspin resulting in unbelievable chaos. This is something neediness and enabling will create. Chaos, not intimacy.
We all need. Some more than others. Like me. I tell in my upcoming book, Hope for Happily Ever After, of when Linda and I were returning home after our honeymoon. We’d been driving for hours and I had been jabbering nonstop for miles and miles. She finally said to me,
“Do you always talk this much?“
I was horrified as my life-sucking need to be heard and affirmed was exposed, along with other relational patterns, (retreat, pout, sulk, avenge, etc.) You have to get the book for the rest of the story. 🙂
The point is, I didn’t know how needy I was until I married her and tried to get her to meet all of the needs. Immediately. This is what causes the conflict. We start projecting needs without knowing they are there. We all have self-focused, needy operating systems, and conflict in marriage is simply these two selfish systems colliding and working themselves out as we learn to grow out of our narcissism and into selfless lovers.
Happily Ever After is in the compiling, editing process. Thanks for being patient as we don’t want to rush. A good meal has to cook. My love and prayers to all who read these words.