No, we're not talking about fairy tales...
While we were decorating for Christmas, my 4-year-old daughter's eyes twinkled brightly as she gushed about how she couldn’t wait until Christmas, when she would get all the things she has always wanted.
I asked her what she wanted — hoping the gifts in my closet were keepers — and her response was, “Oh, I don’t know. I will let Santa Claus figure that out. He knows what I want.”
That was the most frustrating response possible for a mom who wants to guarantee she gives her daughter those fleeting seconds of commercial glee on Christmas day. I found myself wishing she knew that by making me (aka, Santa Claus) guess what she wants, she is setting herself up for some serious disappointment.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from my male clients is this: “I just don’t know what she wants.”
Most of our partners truly want to meet our needs, but we fail to specify what those are. Instead, we hope our partner will magically know what those needs are and how they can best fulfill them, only to leave everyone feeling disappointed when that doesn't happen.
Here are 4 magical beliefs of this kind that are keeping you from getting what you want, which is slowly KILLING your relationship:
1. "But he should know…"
No, he shouldn’t.
You are unique. Don’t assume that he should magically know that you want him to call you every night before he goes to sleep or that he should turn on the coffee maker when he wakes up.
Don’t keep him in the dark about what makes you happy while you lay in bed crossing your fingers. Just tell him!
2. "If I tell him what I want then he’ll only be doing it for me, not because he really wants to."
If you make a list for Santa Claus and you get what’s on your list, it’s still pretty exciting, magical and cool, isn’t it? Were you ever disappointed because Santa got you everything you asked for? It’s no different with your partner.
Because he loves you, he wants to give you what you want. This is not fake. He still gets to choose if he wants to do it or not. His choosing to do it demonstrates his love for you.
3. "I don’t really know what I want, but he should."
If you really don’t know what you want in your relationship then you shouldn’t be in one to begin with. If you want this relationship to last, you need to sit down (quickly!) and figure out your own needs.
To do this, write down at least 10 expectations you have for your partner — and don’t forget to ask him for his top 10 as well. It goes both ways.
4. "I’ll just make a wish and hope he figures it out because I don’t want to appear too needy."
This is your low self-esteem talking. Of course, you deserve to have your needs met and so does he!
If you aren’t sure if your expectations are realistic, have a trusted friend or therapist look over your list and give you some feedback. Then work on your self-esteem so that you believe you deserve it.
Your partner will never know your deepest desires or loftiest wishes unless you speak them out loud.
Even Santa Claus can’t always read minds. That’s why he’s at every mall in America asking kids what they want.
It’s time to sit on your partner’s lap and let him know what you want from him ... (or even vice versa.)
Dr. Zoe Shaw is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach. If you are having difficulty understanding what you want from a relationship or communicating it to your partner, she can help. Connect with her now for a free consultation.