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Ways You and Your Partner Can Make Effective Requests of Each Other

If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably invested in creating the healthiest, most positive relationship possible. And while every relationship is unique, you can rely on one key in particular to help yourself get the relationship you want.


Just ask for it!

Can it really be that simple? In a way, yes.

Don’t Expect Things to Happen — Ask for Them to Happen

The first step is to realize that having needs and wants in a relationship isn’t selfish. It’s natural.

Unfortunately, many of us were never taught that what we want or need is okay. So we genuinely don’t know how to do it!

We’re afraid of hurting our partner’s feelings or making them feel criticized. And, honestly, that does happen… when we don’t have a game plan.

However, once you know the process, it becomes a lot less stressful to ask for what you want and need. Your requests will go from “buried” or “needy” to a new level of relationship health: clear and effective!

Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Understand Your Own Needs

This is much easier said than done! Here’s where all your fears, insecurities, and questions of “deserving” might come up.

Start by affirming: you do deserve to have your needs fulfilled in a relationship. In fact, you deserve to have everything you want in a relationship!

On the flip side, you should reflect on what you can do to help your partner feel happier in the relationship. Don’t you think they’d do the same for you?

Step 2: Phrase It with Sensitivity

We may worry that our partner will perceive an “ask” as an “attack.” And, as mentioned above, this can and does happen. In large part, this depends on your phrasing.

Stick to sentences that start with “I…” This request isn’t about what your partner is doing wrong. It’s about you bringing something new to light.


Step 3: Be Specific…. Very Specific

Here’s a version of what you’re probably thinking: “We’ve been together 10 years…. Surely I don’t need to spell out what I want him to do for our next anniversary!”

But our partners are not mind readers. And even if you think it should be obvious, that doesn’t mean it is obvious to them. This doesn’t mean they don’t pay attention or don’t “know” you or love you, either.

There are all kinds of reasons why your partner might miss the mark with something you are expecting from them. Perhaps they are stressed and exhausted from everything else they have on their plate. Or they second-guess themselves about what you really want and paralyze themselves into inaction. Or simply misread your hints.

If you have something specific you want or need from your partner, you need to learn to craft a request.

Step 4: Crafting Your Request

Let’s go through an example.


Your partner has been staying up later than you for the past few weeks. You’d really like them to align their bedtime with you more often for some much-needed bonding.


The way you approach this is like a fork in the road.


Fork #1: “You never come to bed with me anymore. What are you even doing? Your projects can wait!”


Fork #2: “I miss when we would recap each other’s days before bed. I know you’ve been working a lot on projects that you care about. But do you think you could set aside a few nights a week to go to bed around the same time as me? I’d like more of that bonding.”


You can see how the first example might make your partner throw up their guard. They may feel the need to defend their passions, entirely missing your point: you want more quality time with them!


In the second example, you are really focusing on your emotions and needs. And you’re providing your partner with specific, concrete paths to fulfil the request.


Imagine how much less frustrating that must feel as the receiver. And imagine your satisfaction in being understood.


Step 5: Honor the Interaction

After your request, give your partner space to respond. They basically have one of three options: yes, no, or negotiate. Whichever one they pick, proceed with respect. Working together in this conversation will help you bond, too.


If this is not an easy process for you, you’re not alone! Lots of people find it difficult at first, but it does get better with time.


Worried about having to go it alone? Get in touch and I can help.


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Copyright @2020 Dana Cole, LMFT