A bright white room with wood paneling half way down the wall to the floor. A heterosexual couple is embracing in a hug in front of a bed with moving boxes on it.

Feeling Stuck: What’s Next?

You shifted out of criticism. You’re working on taming that defensiveness, and you are also trying to see what your partner is expressing to you through emotional validation.

But your relationship still feels stuck, what’s next?

How do I get my needs met?

When it comes to expressing needs, there are some common challenges that partners encounter, here are a few examples:

Challenge #1
We think we are telling our partner what we need, but we are actually being vague and unclear, leaving our partner clueless and without direction.

Example: I need help around the house → As a fly on the wall, I don’t know what ‘help’ looks like and your partner might not either.

Reframe: I need help with the laundry. Can you do it this week?

Challenge #2
We criticize the other person without linking this to our own feelings and needs.

Example: You didn’t do the dishes, I feel like you never help. → This ‘I feel’ statement isn’t a feeling, it’s basically saying ‘you never help’

Reframe: The dishes aren’t done and I’m feeling really overwhelmed right now. I need you to take over.

Challenge #3
We express the need by telling the other person what we don’t want, but we don’t let them know what we do want.

Examples: Don’t leave the dishes like that! | You need to… | You didn’t make time for… | You didn’t share… with me…

Reframe: Try to let your partner know what you do want, only telling them what you don’t want is still pretty open ended and can leave your partner unsure of what exactly you do want.

If you remember from one of my previous blogs, I emphasized the point of being able to share your experience from an internal perspective.

Let’s build on this:

When you express your needs, it’s important to make sure that you are expressing it in a positive way.

Why does this matter?

When you tell someone what they shouldn’t do, they are more likely to get defensive.

However, if you make a small shift and change this into expressing your needs in a positive way, you are more likely to help your partner keep an open mind and be receptive to what you’re saying.

Example: You don’t plan dates with me.
Reframe: I need a time for us to connect. Can you plan a date night this weekend?

Example: You don’t connect with me emotionally.
Reframe: Find a way to connect with your partner and share it with them. When they tell you something say something like “I’d love to know more about this”

Example: You left the house a mess!
Reframe: I need to feel a sense of order when I wake up. I need us to pick up our stuff before bedtime.

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  • Bring up hard topics and know that you will work through them together
  • Solve problems and compromise as a team
  • Share your vulnerabilities and also set boundaries in hard moments
  • Shift out of resentment and into an easier relationship
  • Nurture your intimacy and build a satisfying and lasting connection
  • And build trust and security to have a happy, healthy relationship and connect with your partner in a meaningful way
  • … and so much more.

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Interested in learning more? Check out the companion blog:

>> FEELING STUCK: THE POWER OF A UNITED FRONT
>> 
FEELING STUCK: IS BLAME KEEPING YOU STUCK?
>> 
FEELING STUCK: WHO’S ON DEFENSE?

>> FEELING STUCK: VALIDATING THEIR EXPERIENCE