If there is already tension in your relationship, propose some ground rules so that this can be a productive exchange and not one that devolves into an argument. Create agreements that neither of you will make accusations that you don’t have firm facts to back up and that you’ll both steer clear of generalizing statements.
When referring to your partner’s habits, the more specific and observable you can be, the better. Instead of saying, “You never want to have sex with me....” try “I want to have sex more often.”
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Blame and judgment are not conducive to meeting needs so leave them out.
Make it your primary intention to honestly communicate to your partner what you’d like more of in your relationship. Do you want more respect, appreciation, cooperation with finances or housework, intimacy or fun? Ask for it in a way that invites your spouse to come closer to you and to help you get that need met.
Stay open because the way you think your need “should” be met may be different than what your partner can do; that doesn’t mean you’ll have to remain dissatisfied or feeling deprived.
The success of this conversation-- and your marriage-- depends on you speaking honestly and listening fully. As your spouse speaks, look for the overlap in what you both want and need. Listen for needs your partner has that you didn’t know about and feel into yourself for what you will do.
When your partner brings up a need, keep yourself open. It’s not easy to hear this information so try not to get defensive or take it personally. Be responsible for your role and place emphasis on what you both can do to help you both get your needs met.
Avoid this trap...
The potential downside of this kind of conversation is that you’ll begin to only see what you’re NOT getting from one another and you’ll fixate on what’s wrong with your marriage.
THAT isn’t good for your relationship, so don’t do it!
A happy, healthy and close marriage depends on honest assessment and quick action to address trouble areas. It also requires you both to also regularly notice and celebrate the strengths and what’s going right.
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The goal is to come away from this uncomfortable conversation about unmet needs with a solid plan you’ll both follow mixed with genuine appreciation for each other and the love you share.
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