Mind Reading 101
Once when I was a cube dweller, toiling away at my computer, I received a call from the company operator asking me to come up front. When I arrived, she pointed to a gorgeous bouquet. My favorite wildflowers exploded from a vase. As I returned to my desk carrying the gift, at least half a dozen co-workers smiled and asked the significance of the day. "It's no special occasion," I replied. "My husband sent them 'just because.
'" "Wow, what a romantic guy," several commented. I sensed they might be a tiny bit jealous of my knight's seemingly spontaneous attentiveness. The truth is, my husband is one of the world's greatest guys, but he's about as inherently romantic as a water tank. So why on earth did he send me flowers for no ostensible reason? Because I asked him to. Maybe you're smarter women than I, but when I married, for some reason, I was absolutely certain Steve would understand me and know what I needed without my having to say a word.
But after a few years of marriage, it hit me one day, like a bolt of lightning, that he had not a clue about what emotional support looked like for me. It's not that he was unwilling to do what I needed. It was that I had never told him. So when he sat as unmoved and silent as a totem pole when I poured out my heart, he didn't know that what would help would be a hug or barring that, an occasional grunt to notify me that he was actually listening and not trying to figure the odds on the next Lakers game. How could he know that on my birthday, I would not be ecstatic to receive either a black satin bustier or an alternator? And why would he think that his idea of a great vacation, traipsing through dozens of ruins over the age of 500 years, would depress me? He thought and acted as he did not out of some desire to annoy or hurt me, but simply because I'd made a terrible mistake. I'd assumed that if he loved me, he would know my needs. But he didn't. He was and is, after all, a human being. He has his own likes and dislikes. He functions from his own experience of the world, not mine.
How can he possibly know what I want unless I share it with him? Here's why my husband sent me those flowers. At the beginning of the year, I had gotten a hold of his day planner. At the front I'd inserted a typed list of several dozen activities and gifts I enjoy and appreciate (many cost nothing). Then, every few weeks, I'd jotted a note on the calendar, "Do something special for Lynn." Each time that year he came across a note, he would check the list and take action. I made it easy for him. Now, I can hear some of you thinking, "That's cheating!" That's what several of the women in my office said when I revealed the truth. In fact, they looked horror-stricken, as if I'd broken some ancient covenant. But the fact is that I got my flowers and my husband came off looking like a prince. Every time he did something for me that year, even though I had instigated it, I felt my love for him deepen.
What a win-win! If you wonder why you're not getting what you want from others, you might want to ask yourself the following questions: Why do I make others struggle to understand me and my needs? Why is it important to have someone who cares about me search and scratch his/her head in an attempt to support me? What would it be like if someone in my life was giving me what I crave from them even if I had to tell them exactly what that is? Try to think of it this way. When you make your needs known to someone else, you are giving him a gift. You are making his life easier and in the process enriching your own. Ask for what you need. Discover how getting it feels. You may be surprised and hopefully, you'll be delighted. One quick tip: To keep a relationship on track Every night for a week before going to bed, you and your partner takes turns filling in the blanks to the statements below. This exercise shouldn't take more than ten minutes at the most. What I loved about you today was. What I'm feeling right now is.
What I'd like more than anything right now is. By spending a few minutes checking in with each other, you are opening up lines of communication and reinforcing the importance of your relationship. Try it. See what happens. ZZZZZZ .
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