How Many Should’s Do You Have On Your List?


Go Ahead, Make a List of Should's, But Keep It Short and Check it Twice

We’ve all got things that we love about our partner, and then there are those things we’d love to change about our partners. Now, we don’t live in a perfect world, and most of the time we are aware of this, so intuitively we also know that some things cannot be perfect, some things we have to let slide, some stuff we need to let go, ignore or better yet accept.

Acceptance is my favorite of the bunch. It suggests we allow each other to exist as we are, organically, as we were, before we hooked up with our partner. We let our partners live their lives, on their individual path, their journey and love them unconditionally, and they us. But, this is so hard to do for so many, because once we become involved with someone, it’s hard to imagine that their day-to-day doings don’t effect our lives. Truth of the matter is they do. Their behaviors are now intrinsically tied to our lives. I’ve been there, so I know. We want our partners to meet all of our needs, and fit in gracefully with our lives, which doesn’t always happen. So acceptance isn’t always easy.

Growth is another part of a relationship. Learning to maneuver the waters, with the new set of life experiences, rituals, and the like of our partner combined with ours. Sometimes we get to reinvent ourselves in a positive way with a new partner, and other times we lose part of ourselves that we much loved. In this way, relationships are a give and take. If we lose too much of who we are, however, I always say it’s time to readdress, reassess, refocus and revisit our goals, our needs, our desires, and our life.

But, still aside from acceptance and growth there are certain things that sometimes we feel we could live without, or some things that we feel are lacking. How many of these things do you have in your relationship? And how many have you verbalized to your partner? How many should’s do you have for your partner in your current relationship?

Here is my rule of thumb: You can have a list but your ‘list of should’s’ should be no longer than TWO at any given time. Your list can have two very specific items on it that you’ll be able verbalize to your partner. Anymore than two is disastrous, and I’ll tell you why. When the list gets too long, our partners begin to live in fear, in doubt, in guilt and in shame. Never being able to live up to our expectations, always trying to prove that they are ‘good enough.’ I know, I have been there. On both ends, in fact. It’s a terrible, unbalanced, lonely place to be and it does not breed happiness and satisfaction in a relationship, in fact it does the opposite, it builds a wall.

The other great thing about a short list is that when you have to choose, and be very selective, it forces you to get down to the nitty gritty, to pin point the very need you have, that were it being met, you’d probably be more accepting of your partner. So, if your need is more intimacy, physical touch, quality time spent, or just “I wanna feel like Number 1,” then the other things on the list, like for example, wanting your partner to comb his/her hair, replace the toilet paper, do the dishes, be on time, etc.. fall to the wayside, because they become less important. And, in fact, if your partner shows you more of the love and respect that you desire and need, those other things on the list, do start to look and feel miniscule. 

The key here is to make it easy for your partner, by being very specific. Your partner is not a mind reader, though many would wish they could, or expect they should, this idea that "my partner should know me by now," is the biggest relationship myth out there. Your partner cannot and will never read your mind, so get that into your head and never let it go. Be very specific so he/she can meet your need, easily, so you can both feel good. As soon as possible. The sooner, the better, trust me. 

The goal is also to be real about your needs and not criticize, nit pick, blame, point the finger, and so on. Address what it is you really want from your partner and then give them a specific detail they can follow through on.

Here are some examples:
-Let’s say you want more intimacy, sex, or physical touch from your partner, well simply stating that is a vague statement. Your list item should instead be: I want a 30 second hug twice a day. Precise, concise, specific and to the point.

-Let’s say you want your partner to be more focused on you, to spend more quality time with you. Well, simply stating that as a need, again is too vague. Instead try something like this: I want to have dinner with you 3 nights a week with the cell phones, TV’s and computers off.

-Let’s say you want your partner to spend less time with his/her friends, and more time with you because you are feeling neglected, one way you could phrase it is: I want to have a date with you, once a week.

Side note: if you still have issues with your partner, for example, spending time with his/her friends, address what really bothers you about this scenario- do you feel left out? jealous? If so, what would make you feel better? It’s not realistic to expect your partner to drop his/her friends completely, or every single time to be with you, so being really honest about what is going on with you is key here.

The great thing about the short specific TWO item list is that it forces you to be honest with yourself, come to terms with your own needs which ultimately breeds more respect, and honesty in the relationship because it doesn't point blame and it forces you to take charge of your own needs. 

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