Do you get what you want in your life?
I’m not talking about material things; I’m talking about your primary relationships. Does your partner give you what you want? Are you treated the ways you want to be treated? Do you receive from your partner the things you most want from him or her?
What are the things you most want from your partner?
In a small group survey, I asked twenty people, “Are you getting the things you most want from your partner?” People didn’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” They told me stories. Seventeen out of twenty were stories about what people weren’t getting.
“My partner doesn’t say ‘I love you’ nearly as often as I’d like to hear it.”
“He lapses into periods of being unconscious or unaware and when that happens I certainly don’t get what I want.”
“My partner doesn’t like to initiate sexual relations, which is really a drag for me.”
“What I really want is acceptance, and my partner seldom gives that to me, because she’s focused on what’s not good enough.”
“He can’t seem to acknowledge me for the way I do things because I always do things in ways that are very different from how he would do them. He’s never satisfied with what I do.”
Take a look at the comments above and see if you notice anything.
Do you notice that what people talk about is what they don’t get. And this is incredibly common. People complain about what they don’t get instead of asking for what they want. If you do this, if you complain about what you don’t get—I have two things to say to you.
- You’re really stupid to keep complaining about what you don’t get.
- I wish you would just ask for what you want.
Notice how you respond to my two comments. The first one is me doing to you what you have been doing to your partner. I’m just complaining. And notice how you respond to this. Most people get defensive, shut down, step back, or argue. None of which help you get what you want.
My second response is me making a simple request. Notice how you feel when you hear that. Very different isn’t it?
So why don’t people just ask for what they want instead of complaining about what they don’t get?
- We want to believe the other person can read our minds, and if they could we wouldn’t haven’t to ask for what we want.
- We want to punish the other person for not giving us what we want. Hard to admit, but it’s true.
- We want to avoid being vulnerable, opening up and asking for what we want.
But, these are nothing more than self-justifications for why we complain about what we don’t get instead of asking for what we want.
Try it this weekend. The next time your partner does something you don’t like, instead of complaining about it, just ask your partner for what you want.
And the next time your partner doesn’t do something you wish he or she would do, instead of pointing out that they didn’t do it, just ask them if they would do what you want now.
Notice what happens. Notice your tendency and habit—maybe even desire—to be critical of your partner. What’s that get you? Maybe you get to be right, but do you get to be close or do you connect? And, which do you want more?