In relationships, there is often a miscommunicated expectation that you should know how your partner feels, what they need, and vice versa. One of the first healthy steps you can take in your relationship is to start letting go of these expectations.
So what does this mean for you? Be open about who you are, what your needs are, and how you’re feeling. Instead of shutting your partner out for “not understanding”, “not caring”, or “not getting how things are for you”, allow them to feel empowered by the fact that you will help them understand what your needs are while also getting to know theirs.
“But - they don’t get it! I’ve tried everything and they don’t understand.”
This may be true, but do yourself a favor and try to begin moving past the complaint. It doesn’t give you what you need in the long term.
Your relationship must be a safe place to exist, for both of you.
Each emotionally reactive statement or action of criticism, cutoff, defensiveness, or anger is one step away from helping your partner understand what you need. Instead of complaining about what your partner didn’t do for you yesterday or what they didn’t understand you say, turn yourself forward in your relationship and focus on how you can help your partner succeed in being a good partner for you. They can only read your mind as much as you can read theirs (…meaning, they can’t).
What to Stop: Criticism, complaints (especially after the fact), letting your emotions run the show.
What to Do: State your feelings, thoughts, and needs directly to your partner. Schedule a sit down time to discuss the bigger issues and needs. One of the most effective tools you can use is to write down everything you want to say (which keeps you on point and takes out the emotional reactivity).
When all else fails, ask.
It never ceases to amaze me how long we wait before just coming out with what we need to say or ask for. Couples sometimes end up waiting until the cows come home to express their needs directly to a partner. Yes, you are allowed to ask your partner for your needs and, yes, you are allowed to ask them what they need from you.