Does Your Spouse Know What You Want? How To Communicate Your Needs


Are you communicating your needs in a way your partner can understand?

Even in relationships that are healthy and happy, many couples often struggle when it comes to communicating their needs to their spouse. Successful marriages require consistent work and effort to ensure both parties remain on the same page. If you feel your needs are going unmet, chances are your spouse may not even be aware of your frustration and feelings.

The Danger of Mind Reading 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to successful communication within marriage is the assumption that your partner can read your mind, and automatically know, and understand where you are coming from. No matter how well, or for how long you have known your partner, you cannot expect him or her to always know what you want unless you ask for it.

Many husbands and wives express frustration toward the other’s “inability” to meet and fulfill their needs, when in reality, the other partner is completely unaware that their spouse is feeling neglected, ignored, or undervalued. The first step toward helping your spouse truly understand what you want is to explicitly state those needs—out loud and often!

The Importance of Specifics 

If your emotional, mental, or physical needs have been going unmet, it’s easy to feel hurt and betrayed by your spouse. When we are upset with someone, we have the tendency to over-generalize and make broad statements, rather than to focus on the particular issues at hand.

Broad accusations such as “you never have time for me anymore,” may accurately express how you are feeling in an angry moment, but do little to help solve the problem.

Instead of overgeneralizing your needs and getting angry with your spouse, focus on specific areas that could be improved—the more detailed, the more successful your discussion will likely be. If your spouse never contacts you during the day while they are at work or at home, stay away from statements like, “you ignore me during the week!” and instead explain how a phone call or text during their lunch break could help you feel more involved in their life.

Replace “I really miss you” with “Do you think we could try harder to eat dinner together and have conversations after work like we used to?” The more aware your spouse is of your current needs and specific concerns, the more likely they will be willing to alter their behavior and fix problems.

The Difficulty of Listening 

When communicating with our spouse, most of us have a tendency to want to talk far more than we want to listen. If you find yourself focusing on your next comment while your spouse is speaking, make a conscious effort to pause and to truly listen to and understand what they are saying. A huge part of communicating your needs to your partner is hearing them out and understanding their version of the story.

Often, it is through listening that we discover our spouse has had a completely different understanding or perception of the situation than what we originally thought. If you expect your spouse to hear your concerns and understand your needs, you must first master the art of listening with an open mind.

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Learning to successfully communicate your needs with your spouse takes time, and you may stumble with the process throughout your marriage. When you are feeling unloved or underappreciated, evaluate your current communication, and the balance that exists between speaking and listening—you may be surprised by what you find!