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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

How To Get Your Needs Met In Marriage

Dr.Fran Cohen Praver, Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Analyst


“I’m so angry with Sam. He still doesn’t think about my needs, only his.” Laurie’s fists clenched and tears welled up in her eyes.

I asked, “What happened?”

“He went to his womanizing cousin’s wake and left me here alone all day with my sick mother. I’ve been her care-taker day and night for the last month and I needed a break. I would have liked to go out for a bit.” Laura pouted.

“What did you say to Sam?” I asked.

Raising her voice, Laura explained, “After he got home, I yelled at him and told him he’s never thought about my needs in the past and he never will. That he doesn’t get it at all and it’s pointless.”

“I know he was a married bachelor, left you home alone with the kids, and neglected you emotionally and sexually. ” I commented.

Tears streamed down her cheeks, as she said, “I realize the wake wasn’t a bachelor’s night out, but it brought back all the pain of the past.”

“I can understand the association and your pain. But I wonder why you didn’t assert yourself and communicate that you needed the break before he left?” I asked.

Looking down, Laura said, “I was afraid he’d get angry.”

“And if he did?”

“It doesn’t make sense.” Laura said.

“With your childhood history it does make sense. You feared your father as did your mother. He was an abusive alcoholic, and both of you learned to avoid him. It seems this passive-avoidance response was adaptive then, and it has continued autonomously, even though it is not working now,” I interpreted.

Looking up, Laura smiled slightly. “Yes, as I’ve told you, Sam is remorseful, feels guilty about the past and is trying to do anything to make it up to me.”

“But he’s not a mind reader.” I reminded her.

Like Laura, many women do not know how to get their needs met in a marriage. Instead of asserting themselves before the fact, they passively look the other way and attack after the fact. Laura does not assert herself in a timely manner in order for Sam to hear her. That’s only one scenario of numerous marital issues.

Another common reason that marital partners don’t get their needs met is that they do not listen to each other. Henning Mankell’s recent New York Times article, “The Art of Listening,” comes to mind here. He aptly writes that we have two ears and only one mouth so we should listen at least twice as much as we speak. But how many of us do that?

In our fast paced society, with both partners working, we barely have time to talk, let alone listen to each other’s stories. I see couples in such a hurry to respond, they don’t listen to everything their partners have to say. Instead they are in their heads planning their response. As a result, they have information but no knowledge of their partners. Mankell writes that people confuse information with knowledge. Knowledge means that you listen and interpret the information your partner conveys.

Unlike animals, we have the ability to listen to and understand our partner’s dreams, fears, joy, trauma, intentions, failures, and successes and our partners have the ability to listen to and understand ours. That innate connection is explained by mirror neurons, the newest, most exciting discovery.

Mirror neurons are miniscule brain cells located behind the eye sockets that connect intimate partners at an internal level. Each partner mirrors the other partner’s actions and feelings of attraction, romance, love, lust, moods, erotic desire, memories, and intentions. And that’s what humanity, intimacy, and love is all about.

Here then are some tips on how to get your needs met and enhance the intimacy and love in your marriage.

1) Always use “I” statements, so that you express your needs without complaining about your spouse. In this way you enlist your spouse’s cooperation. Instead of, “You never have time for me. I come last on the totem pole” try “I feel lonely and need a hug.”

2) Stay focused on the issues. Don’t digress and drag in the old dirty laundry. “I need your help, darling” is a better way to get your needs met than, “You never helped me in the past and it’s about time you did. ” Then again, if you do it yourself and complain afterwards, you are ensuring distance rather than closeness.

3) Suggest a time for alone-talk that is mutually convenient. Again, this brings your spouse into the mix and shows respect.

3) Remember timing is everything. If you’re feeling angry, take a breather, and strike when the iron’s cool.

4) Do not try to prove you’re right. What’s more important, being right or getting along? That’s a no brainer, but even brainy people are out to prove themselves right.

5) Take responsibility for your role in problems instead of blaming your spouse. Blaming your partner may feel powerful, but it’s not so. When you blame your spouse, you are trying to change him or her. Then you are at your spouse’s mercy and are rendered powerless. You can’t change anyone; the only one you can change is you.

6) A wish to control the other, often, underlies marital problems. Not only is the partner who dominates responsible, but the one who submits is too. Martyrs are bad for marriage. So if you feel your spouse is the domineering actor and you are the submissive passive reactor, you can change the dynamic. A good fight for equality is an active choice, and not a passive more-of-the-same position.

7) Become a role model for your spouse. It is up to you to lead the way, to act rather than react. Listen to your spouse’s side of things, and try to understand where he or she is coming from. When your spouse feels empathy from you, he or she may reciprocate with empathy for you. It is a case of good communication skills

Here then are some of these communication skills that you and your spouse can practice to get your needs met.

A. Listen to what your spouse says without interrupting or defending yourself.

B. When your spouse has finished, paraphrase what he or she has said. Then ask if that is what he or she meant.

C. If you did not understand, let your partner explain it further. Do not defend or attack him or her, simply listen.

D. Paraphrase once more to be sure you got your spouse. When he or she agrees, it’s your turn to respond.

E. Go back to the first step, but now it is your turn to express yourself, your feelings, and your emotional needs. Your spouse may not interrupt or defend himself or herself. He or she will listen and paraphrase till he or she gets it right.

Marital partners need mutuality, reciprocity, and equality. We want love and passion, security and excitement, commitment, and joy. We want it all and if we learn how to communicate our needs, we can have it all.

Dr. Fran Cohen Praver,  Clinical psychologist and relationship analyst
For more information on getting your needs met in marriage check out Dr. Praver’s latest book, The New Science of Love.

New Year’s Resolutions You Should Have Made

‘Love Analytix,’ a column all about approaching love with logic over emotion, reviewed the past year and saw there were a lot of lessons about love and relationships to embrace and learn. Now that we are a couple of weeks into the new year, people aren’t just making, but breaking New Year’s resolutions. So, including a few resolutions that help deal with love and relationships may not be a bad idea.

Considering everyone is all about self improvement early in the year — male or female, single or involved, searching or content — these are the top 10 resolutions that we hope can turn into commitments regarding love in the New Year.

10. Stop Living In the Past
Your ex-wife cheated seven years ago, or maybe that guy left you with a baby 16 years ago – don’t let the past rob you of your present. It’s time to change your perception and accept the situation so you can move forward. Living in the past will always cloud the promise of a brighter future.

9. Understand and Respect Differences
Men and women are not the same, and never be. The things that makes us different are the same things that attract us to one another. So respect each other even when you don’t understand each other. No one said love would be easy.

8. You Are What You Attract
If you don’t’ understand why you date loser after loser, or gold digger after gold digger, stop all the blaming and realize you’re giving off a certain energy to have those types flock to you. When you carry yourself in a way that shows what you won’t accept, the type of person you really want will begin to come your way.

7. Take Your Time
Finding love, falling in love, or maintaining love – all require patience. Don’t rush love whether your searching for it, or if you feel you’ve already found it. Time was invented so everything doesn’t happen all at once.

6. Forget About Potential
Don’t concern yourself with a person who likes to tell you what they are “about to do.” Look for those who are truly doing something. Loving someone because you can potentially see them as your dream guy or girl, only makes you tolerate what you hope will change. Those very same things you “tolerated,” will later be the things you possibly resent, but ultimately have to accept.

5. Learn How To Communicate
Females have a tendency not to say what they mean, and the fellas usually don’t say enough. Often, couples and daters have to learn how to fight through these barriers of communication in order to build a foundation that will last. If you want to be about it, you must talk about it.

4. Learn When To Let Go
When things get bad and the pros no longer outweigh the cons, don’t hold on. Especially if it’s just because you don’t want to be by yourself, or if you feel too much time has been invested. So what?! Holding onto someone that isn’t for you is imprisoning yourself, and not giving you a chance to find the love you deserve.

3. Put In Work
Nothing worth it comes easy, and relationships are no exception. The the things you do in the beginning of a relationship when it’s sunshine and rainbows, has to be the same things you do to maintain it. If you are not willing to put in work to sustain a relationship, you will never have a fulfilling one.

2. Love Is Never Enough
Tina Turner said it best, “What’s love gotta to do with it?” Ultimately finding and being in love isn’t just about love. Respect, trust, sacrifice, compromise, timing — the list goes on. If you’re in love, or you want love, remember love is an action word, not a feeling.

1. Love Yourself
Whether you’re in or out of a relationship, know you won’t ever truly be able to love someone else until you learn how to love everything about yourself. Superficial happiness is found in someone else, real happiness is found within you.

This article was written by Shirea L. Carroll is a journalist who has written for Essence, VIBE, Washington Post’s, XXL’s Juicy, and AOL. Reporting on everything from music and entertainment to celebrity and love, she has interviewed some of today’s biggest celebrity names. Find the NJ native on her blog Invite Only, or follow her on Twitter @InviteOnly to find out “who is and isn’t invited.”

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