Learning to value and respect the needs of your partner.
So…do you want to sit down and plan?
I remember getting that question a LOT during my 28 yr. marriage. It seems a “plan” was required for nearly everything. Even moving furniture together required “a plan”.
She would ask, “When two guys move heavy stuff, they don’t even talk. How do you get anything done?” My smug answer was always, “With upper body strength, we can overcome the need to speak to each other. Besides, by noon we’ve run out of words for the day.”
Hrumph! (I think that’s how she would spell that.)
It’s taken me a ridiculously long time to get a clue as to why my now ex-wife always wanted “a plan” and why it was always so important to her. Since I started my intense study into myself, male/female relationships, and divorce…at least a plausible explanation has emerged.
Warning: If you buy into the explanation, you may also have to buy into taking some action you weren’t planning.
The planner vs. non-planner marriage is something I see a lot of in the guys I coach. Typically, it is the wife with the planning gene and the husband with the “why can’t you just relax?” gene.
When we discuss the ranking of their 6 basic emotional needs (a la Tony Robbins), an inversion presents itself.
Personal rankings vary and they don’t mean the ones at the bottom are not important. Certain needs must be balanced with others, and a person’s ranking of how well their needs are being met can change drastically over a lifetime. Check out this page by Ronit Baras for a clear explanation of these 6 basic needs and how they relate to each other and how they are displayed by many people.
The trend I see is that many wives have a much higher need for feelings of certainty/safety in their lives than their husbands do. (Yes, sometimes this is a display of excess control, but not always.)
Husbands tend to rank their need for feelings of growth and significance much higher than their wives do. (Yes, sometimes this is a display of selfish “workaholism”, but not always.)
We work on what each partner can and should be doing to help support and “fill the cup” of the other and HOW to do that.
For example, being “in on the plan” is one way you can “fill her cup”. How does she try to fill yours? Have you explained what that cup is for you?
I’ve noticed a general trend. The wives I’m familiar with like to know what is on the list, the social plans for the weekend, what food must be purchased, what the kids will eat, and whether or not there will be enough coffee creamer for tomorrow morning. They cannot understand why these things are not even on his radar and sometimes judge him harshly because of it. They show little respect for his need for relaxation and introspection (variety/growth). On a personal note, I’m also one of those guys who just doesn’t care about those things and can live with the consequences of not planning them. I’d rather use my mind on other stuff.
She, on the other hand, is judged harshly for being a control freak and a busy body. He shows little respect for her needs for predictability and organization (safety/certainty). On a personal note, I’ve been very guilty of making those accusations…and worse.
Choosing to generate feelings of love and connection in each other can get difficult when each person feels like their other highly ranked emotional needs are unimportant in the eyes of their partner. This is when most fights start. And the worst part here is that neither can verbalize the root cause of the bad feelings. The “cause” of the fight morphs into something totally unrelated.
If she has ranked a need of hers as an 8 out of 10 and told him this, then he gets to choose whether or not he wants to demonstrate to her that it matters to him. I believe that the love/connection feelings will suffer in a relationship each time a partner willingly shows that the needs of the other are not important.
Photo by theogeo