The Danger of Silence.

Young Couple Sitting on Love Seat

 

It continues to amaze me at how long it takes me to learn certain things about my marriage. Things that after I discover them, seem so simple. I guess that’s why I write about them when I stumble across them – hoping that I’m not the last person on earth to figure them out. Here’s the latest one I’ve “discovered”.

A couple of weeks ago, Val and I were feeling disconnected. Nothing huge was wrong, and by all outside appearances, we looked fine. Maybe a little crabby towards each other, but nothing anybody would notice. If you didn’t know us very well, you would think everything was great. We were still giving little pecks on the lips before bed, putting on a fake smile throughout the day, and doing a great job of being roommates. We both knew something was wrong, but we couldn’t really pin point what IT, was.

This went on for about a week, until we ended up having what we like to call a “forced date night” (Grandparents came over, took the kids, and told us to get out of here). While we were at dinner, I said “ok, I what’s wrong with us lately? I don’t know what it is, but I hate it.” My wife said “I don’t know, but I don’t like it either”. After talking through it, you wanna know what the whole problem was?! (I know you’re on the edge of your seat) It all came down to one thing:

We were both expecting the other person to meet an unspoken need/desire that each of us had. 

At some point we had both been slightly offended that the other one hadn’t met an unspoken “need” that we had earlier that week, and it was a need which seemed really obvious to us, but had not been noticed at all by the other person. And instead of just saying “hey hon, I really need you to (insert need)”, we decided to get a little attitude about it and pull a “well fine then, I guess I don’t matter very much to him/her if they can’t see what I pretty obviously need! I’m just going to wait, and let him/her figure it out. They can’t be that oblivious”. And so it went for a week or so. Both of us getting a little more irked as each day went on, but refusing to say anything, or ask, due to what really came down to our pride. We both wanted the other person to “get a clue” and “do what he/she is supposed to do” or basically “figure out what is so darn obvious!”. And because neither of us ended up being very good mind readers, we were resenting each other. Yeah, pretty stupid huh?

Let me sum it up this way –

Your spouse has NO IDEA what your thinking, or what you may need (most of the time), unless you tell them. 

Why do we get the idea that just because our spouse has been married to us for “x amount of years”, they suddenly become mind readers? And I can hear you saying “well yeah, but come on! He/she has to have some sort of idea on what I need/like/desire after being around me all that time!”. Yes, it’s true that you probably know your husband/wife more than maybe anyone else on the planet, but even so, how are they to know what you need at any given time, if you don’t even ask?!

There are so many times I hear comments from couples like “Well, he had better figure it out that I need a date night once a week”, or “She’s gotta know I need sex 3 or 4 times a week! How hard is that to figure out?” And so we go through our marriages, disappointed that the other person isn’t “doing what they’re supposed to do”, but yet refusing to calmly sit down with them, and say “hey honey, I know you’ve been really busy lately, but I would really like to (insert need). Would you help me with this?”

Wouldn’t that be so much simpler?! What an amazing idea – actually ASK for things we need our spouse to do for us. Not just hope and pray that can play “mind pictionary”, and guess what we need.

What if on a daily basis, we went to each other and said something like “hey hon, I’m just checking in to see what you need today” and doing it with a servant’s heart – really WANTING to give the other person what they needed to feel loved, cared for, and important? Would that be so hard? Not at all. But for some reason it seems strange, because we go back to that old “oh come on, he/she shouldn’t have to be told what I need, they should just know” garbage. Well, let me let you in on a little secret: IT DOESN’T WORK. Take it from me, the idiot who has tried it for years – you’d be more productive going outside, sitting on your deck, and waiting for the moon to turn purple.

So, for us, from that date night on, we promised each other that we wouldn’t do the “guessing game” anymore, and that if we needed something, we would try to be better at laying down our pride, and simply asking. For some reason we get this idea that our spouses are sitting there going “nope! I’m not going to give him what he/she needs!”, When in reality, they wouldn’t mind at all, and most likely would love to – if they could only read your mind.

  1. We went through the same realization not that long ago.
    We changed the rule in the house to: if you are silent, it means you are OK.

    In other words: Speak up if you’re not OK!

    We have this ridiculous notion from media that we should instinctively know what to do for our spouses. And if you don’t, you’re an idiot. Sadly, this is generally portrayed as the husband is an idiot…the wife isn’t for some reason…I think the thought is that the husbands needs are idiotic as well. Then, once in a blue moon they think of each other instead of themselves, and it’s this magical moment when they are both happy for an instant.

    What if we just made is easier, as you said, and spoke up about our needs? The caveat is that then you need to be willing to listen to what your spouse is saying and act appropriately.

    Of course, being sensitive to their needs before they ask is always a bonus.

    Good post.

    • Lol, thanks! It’s the good old “you need to be a mind reader” idea. Works great in the movies! 🙂

    • jodi
    • July 6th, 2013

    What if you tell your spouse what you need and they still don’t do it even though they say they want to?

    • Huh. Well, either they’re lying about wanting to, or you’re not reminding them often enough, and in a way that doesn’t make them feel like it’s a demand, but instead a request. Hope that helps…?

    • Huh. Well, either they’re lying about wanting to, or you’re not reminding them enough, and in a way that isn’t a demand, but a request. Hope that helps?

    • John
    • July 6th, 2013

    What happens when you tell your spouse what you need and she refuses to do it?

    • That’s a tough one. Is it something that is Biblical? Is it something that is a need or a want? What are her reasons for refusing? That’s kind of a loaded question..

  2. This is a very common problem in some marriages today it seems! Even before marriage, some women seem to think that their spouse knows everything they want and think and feel even without telling them. Most of these women are trapped in fairytale stories about love and relationships. A bit funny but true.

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