Asking For What You Want

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 at 8:58 pm

“If I have To Ask, It Doesn’t Mean As Much!!

Do you ever wish your partner could read your mind? What I mean is, have your partner anticipate your desire so that you don’t have to ask for whatever it is you want?

Well, for sure, NOT having your mind read has been a source of conflict for many couples. But, here’s the rub: You may not get what you want if you don’t ask, because your partner cannot read your mind! Many of you tell me, while sitting in my office, irate at your allegedly insensitive partner, “But, if I have to ask, it doesn’t mean as much.”

That’s truly unfortunate. And besides, whatever happened to old adage that the power of the gift is in the giving? When did it change to the power of a gift is in the guessing and getting it right? If you refuse to ask because you think it means less, you the risk building a gap between the two of you in three ways:

First, you prevent your partner from giving to you, when he or she may be very willing to meet your request or desire, if you would only ask.

Second, you’re telling partner you are willing to receive, but only if it’s on your terms. You partner is likely to experience that as being selfish.

Third, your desire to be anticipated becomes more important than what you wanted in the first place.

Why does the mind-reading phenomenon play such an important role? Consider this:

To begin with, it partly goes back to courtship when, indeed, there probably was a fair amount of mutual anticipation and meeting of each others desires. Naturally, we would ALL love to have a blissful courtship continue endlessly, but it’s not realistic for a number of reasons I won’t go in to now.

Also, in courtship you probably experienced your desires endlessly gratified, some by request, but many without request. After awhile, when you think your partner knows you well, you then believe you need not ask for what you want—your partner should “just know.”

And consider this: The continuous desire for anticipated gratification is a way to feel now, long after the courtship, the same way you felt during courtship. Again, unrealistic, even if understandable.

Furthermore, some people don’t want to ask for what they want because they fear they might hear the dreaded word “no.” Rather than face the prospect of disappointment, they shoot themselves in the foot by not letting their desire be known. And, when they don’t get what they want because they did not ask, they blame their partner.

Finally, part of this goes back to the family of origin. If you experienced chronic disappointment connected to not having basic needs tended to as a kid, there is a chance you will easily feel disappointment when you magically wish for something you are to afraid to ask for, and don’t get it.

So, both courtship, and early familial experiences play a role in this interesting issue that many couples face at one time or another.

Your partner does his/her best to anticipate you, and is also willing to give when you ask. Appreciate that, and reciprocate. Tell yourself that you ‘get’ to ask, not that you ‘have’ to ask. When you get what you want, show your appreciation of your partner for listening, hearing, and showing up. After all, he or she fundamentally cares for, and loves, you.

©Copyright 2009 by Jim Hutt, Ph.D.

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1 Comment »

  1. I truly believe what you said. My husband however believes I am controlling when I ask him to run his fingers through my hair. He believes my asking him to do something is very wrong and thwarts his spontaneity. He tells me that has soured any desire of his to be affectionate – which is a vicious circle because I get less and ask more, and he gives less. I am 57, he is 60 and we’ve been married 4 years. This is my second marriage, this is his first. He’s been afraid of intimacy and of being controlled. I never knew I was not allowed to ask with him – but I refuse to stay silent and be blamed for being a controller, when he is being controlling and demeans me for asking. He is a short fuse, poor man. I don’t want to go through a second divorce but I’m not sure he’ll ever see things from another viewpoint. He’s so scared of being controlled. I am concerned about our future.

    Comment by Mary Bates — May 1, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

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