Portland Marriage Counseling: Learning to Ask for What You Want

May 28, 2014 by

When you’re in a relationship, you can’t expect your partner to read your mind, no matter how long you’ve been together or how well you think you know each other. There are going to be times when you find yourself wishing for something or hoping that your partner will decide to do something nice for you, but if you don’t say anything, you may end up being disappointed.

Asking for what you want can be a lot tougher than just stringing the right words together. You need to be upfront, but you don’t want to present your request in an accusatory or aggressive way. For many, the fear of rejection also prevents them from asking for what they truly want.

You can begin to overcome this fear by recognizing that asking for something doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it—but it is the only way to ensure that your partner knows your wish. As long as you and your partner respect one another, you should both be able to make requests without hurting one another. Here are a few tips to help you start asking for what you want in your relationship.

Avoid ultimatums. Keep in mind that asking involves making a request that your partner can choose to say yes or no to. When asking turns into demanding, though (e.g. saying “You need to change or I’m leaving”), you’re setting yourself up for conflict and showing that you aren’t willing to compromise for the sake of your relationship.

Be concrete. Don’t hedge your request with lots of qualifiers like “maybe” or “potentially,” and don’t describe what you want in vague terms. If you aren’t clear about what you want, your partner may have a tough time reading between the lines to determine what you really mean.

Say what you actually want, not what you think your partner wants to hear. One of the biggest obstacles to an honest relationship is just acting the way you think your partner wants you to be. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, even if you think your partner won’t be willing to give it. Remember that your partner always has the option to say no—and they might just surprise you by saying yes.

Always remain respectful. Your partner isn’t going to respond well to your request if you present it in a condescending, sarcastic, or passive aggressive manner. Speak calmly, make eye contact, and give your partner a chance to share their view after you’ve said what you need to say. Asking for something is always easier when you have mutual respect in your relationship.

If you’re still hesitant about asking for what you want or think that you and your partner are having a hard time communicating, consider coming in to Portland marriage counseling. I regularly work with couples who are striving to be more honest and open with one another in order to get what they both want out of the relationship.