In looking at how to discuss your needs in marriage (see….), we looked at 10 steps on how to do it effectively. There is however much to be learned from the wisdom of how NOT to do it. It could save you a lot of trouble and fighting. Here follows a satirical look at..
13 things to not do:
1. Be totally dependent on your partner to fulfill all your emotional needs. Be like a heavy, wet blanket on them. That will drain them before long. That way you never have to take responsibility and develop faith in God. You could just jump from partner to partner.
2. Assume your partner knows what you need without you telling them. Make it hard for them. They are supposed to be able to read minds or what?
3. Then blame them if they don’t do it right because they ‘would have known if they really cared’. Play on their feelings by ‘you should have known by now’.
4. Keep your feelings to yourself and one day explode in a fit of anger and blame them for being so selfish. This will leave them overwhelmed and helpless to fulfill your needs.
5. Be vague about your needs and say things like ‘I don’t know, a movie or whatever’. Keep them guessing.
6. Please only your partner’s needs and never mention what you want. Always give in to their requests and do not negotiate for yours. This will leave you empty and depressed and could lead to lots of resentment.
7. Demand what you need and control your partner by telling them what they should and shouldn't do. Give instructions. Bark it out man. ‘No, you cannot go out on a ladies night. You will stay here and help me!’. This will make you feel powerful, ensure that you are not equal partners and diminish the safety in the relationship.
8. Criticize your partner’s character using labels and insults. ‘You never ask about what I want, you are a selfish narcissist!’; ‘You do not clean up after you. You really are such an inconsiderable pig’. Nasty.
9. Manipulate them. Whine, complain, let them feel guilty e.g ‘How can you go out with your friends when you never want to spend time with me! Am I not important to you?!’.
10. Be unreasonable. Ask more than they can give. Be rigid and do not accommodate them. ‘No, I can only have sex on Fridays’.
11. Shoot down whatever they ask of you. Give them a go. Give strong arguments for your needs only and do it vehemently. That will cause a good amount of friction and you will win (well, temporarily).
12. Ignore them. Only do what you want. Go into silent mode and punish them real good by not doing what they like. They will become frustrated and feel upset at you. They might even resent you. Then you are equals.
13. Spite them by actively doing what they do not like. Make it clear that you do not care. Pay them back for all the hurt and neglect.
Hopefully you do not make as many of these mistakes as I have. Have a look at my other article “10 steps on how to discuss needs in marriage’. All of the best with meeting your partner’s needs!
By Erich Schoeman (Clinical Psychologist), Matters of the Soul (mattersofthesoul.org)