Based on some of the comments I have received, it appears that some readers are equating asserting your own needs in a marriage with trying to change your spouse. I see these are two different things, which is why I would like to blog about it.
On my blog entry entitled Marriage after Child Abuse: How Much Do We Owe Our Spouses?, Shen posted a great comment about how there are four directions a couple can go when he and she aren’t in the same place. It’s a long comment, so I won’t repost it here, but be sure to read it if you have not already done so. I would like to build upon Shen’s comment in this blog entry and then move onto the difference between trying to change a spouse and meeting your own needs.
Shen’s comment focused on the big picture, but I am going to focus on specific needs within a marriage. In a nutshell, Shen said that when a spouse’s needs are not being met, the couple can go in one of four ways, which are summarized below. I have purposely chosen four neutral examples from my marriage so we can keep the focus on how unmet needs can play out within a marriage without getting into one being “right” and one being “wrong.”
- He adapts to meet her need: Hub needs to save money, and I need soft toilet paper for my sensitive skin. Hub let go of his need to save money buying cheaper toilet paper to meet my need for more expensive, softer toilet paper.
- She adapts to meet his need: Hub is a night owl and has trouble getting moving in the morning. As a result, he goes into work late (he is the boss) and stays late, resulting in a later dinner. I am an early bird and eat breakfast and lunch early, so I need dinner earlier than hub gets home. I adapted by building in an afternoon snack so I can wait to eat dinner with hub.
- Neither adapt – they proceed with the situation not working for either of them: Hub and I have a child with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who has a difficult time sitting through a church service. My compromise with our son is that he doesn’t have to go to worship service as long as he goes to Sunday School (until he is older). Hub needs to sleep in on Sundays and does not join us for Sunday School. Hub and I both need us to worship together as a family, but, while I need to be going to worship service (I do miss it!), I also need not to be spending an hour telling child to “sit down and shut up.” So, child and I go to Sunday School only, hub goes to worship service alone, and neither hub’s needs nor mine are really being met.
- They go their separate ways to meet their needs: Hub loves to watch sports, which bores me to tears. I like to watch dramas, which bores hub to tears. We have two TV’s and DVR’s so we can each watch our own preferred programming and have chosen not to make TV viewing a couple activity.
This blog entry has gotten too long. More tomorrow…
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt