Ways To Get What You Need

Hello, Karen,

 I’ve been married for many years, and am not sure I’m willing to stay in the marriage any longer.  I am married to a man who is not being very cooperative.  The more I explain what it is he’s doing that upsets me, the more he seems to do it.  The more I tell him what I want, the less I seem to get it.  I’m incredibly annoyed and fed up most of the time, and have all but given up on this whole thing, frankly.  My good friend told me to reach out to you instead of quit.  She thinks there’s stuff for me to learn about how I’m going about things with my husband.  I’m all ears. ~ Mindy, TX

 Dear Mindy,

 Thanks for reaching out, instead of quitting (at least, not yet). 

 Bravo to you for your willingness to explore what may be going on.  I always advocate learning what it is that we’re doing to contribute to a bad situation first, fix it (if possible), and then, as an absolute last resort – when all else fails – consider ending the marriage.  (I would have different advice in a dating situation, but as you know, marriage is a very different thing.)


I want you to picture a couple of different scenarios:

 Scenario #1 – You’re approached by your husband, who needs something from you.  He asks this way…”Why is it that I have to ask you for this – again?  Why on earth can’t you figure out how to remember how important it is to me?  I’m really sick of it, Mindy.”

 Scenario #2 – He asks this way…”Honey, I know you’ve been incredibly busy with everything – and I appreciate all that you do.  I’m wondering if I could get this thing from you that I need.  If it works for you, I’d love it by the end of the weekend.  If you can’t get to it by then, let me know, so I can figure out something else, okay?”

 Now obviously, you would respond very differently to one over the other, right?  And it can be really tricky to opt for #2 when you feel as though you’ve asked repeatedly, and you’re hurt, frustrated, or furious.

 Just remember this: you get more bees with honey than with vinegar.  (Hey, there’s a reason for old sayings still being used…because they’re true!)

 One thing to keep in mind about men (warning: this is a generalization, and you may have an exception on your hands): they want to provide for us, protect us, and solve our problems for us. 

 BUT only if they get to “win” doing it. 

 So, if he feels like he’d be “obeying” you, or submitting to your will, he will not feel good about giving you what you want, and (probably) won’t do it.  Or, if he does it, it comes begrudgingly, and with some other cost.

 If we’re smart in our relationships with our men, we have them “win” at everything – even their “jobs” that you “shouldn’t have to ask them to do, or thank them for doing”, because it’s what they’re “supposed to do”, damn it! 

 Try this new method of asking for what you need, and keep this in mind: you two have been doing this dance for years, so do NOT expect an overnight shift – in fact, expect some testing and push-back from him, because you’ll be messing with the thing he “knows”, which is how you have been interacting with each other.

 Stay consistent (to the best of your ability); hold your course toward the new dance you want to create with him – one of appreciation, respect, and trust.

 You will see a difference in his level of generosity, of connectedness, and of attention to your needs. 

 That’s what I’m betting, anyway!