Communication in a relationship and how to ask for what you want - and get it!
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
So, what to do when you face moments of disappointment toward your loved one? How can you demonstrate or practice compassion and support while you are feeling furious?
Have you ever been in a situation where your loved one has done something that makes you unhappy, and when he or she asks "Are you okay?", you reply "I'm okay" even though that's definitely not the case? Feelings of unfairness and disappointment arise at the fact they don't fully understand you or know what you truly want.
You begin to wonder "how can they say 'I Love You' when they don't even know how I'm feeling or upset I am?" These emotions can consume you with lightning speed, close you up, and makes you start acting cold or short. Your partner is completely oblivious to this tunnel of emotion you're experiencing.
Then, something small happens and it starts an argument. You freak-out, negative feelings come all at once and stop you from communicating in a supportive, loving way. Overwhelmed by this emotional reaction within you, your loved one starts to react the same way — both of you are confused by the whole situation. You know the drill! When chaos starts, it usually ends badly.
When I was younger, or better yet immature, I viewed "arguing" as a "must" in a relationship. I thought there's no way to avoid conflict and that there's nothing wrong to argue — and to some extent this is true. Conflict is a part of the evolution but also causes destruction. Conflict happens all the time in every relationship, but it's how we handle that determines whether we learn and grow, or hurt ourselves and others. I learned this the hard way through several difficult relationships.
Do you ever wonder if there's true love? Does it even exist? It does! True love doesn't mean you must fall for someone at first sight or feel that rush or blush when you are around that special someone. And, it's definitely not when you find a person who reads your mind and always knows what you want (I don't think they exist!).
As defined by psychologist and author M. Scott Peck, true love is "the will to extend one's self for purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth". Holding this as truth, true love represents compassion and support. To put yourself in a less comfortable position, to stretch yourself further to learn how to love. Love is not easy or comfortable. Love is greater, it is a connection and has growing pains. When you are willing to go deeper, take risks and step out of your safe zone, you can experience true love.
So, what to do when you face moments of disappointment toward your loved one? How can you demonstrate or practice compassion and support while you are feeling furious? I'd tell you to take a deep breath, but it's difficult to remember to breathe when your emotions are fiery, right?.
The best bet is to understand why we get upset in the first place. As infants, we got love and attention by crying — a primal form of communication, but effective. Our parents came running to our needs once they heard our cries. Growing up, a lot of us were told that love should come naturally. Practicing compassionate communication and expressing your desires is a form of "emotional showtime" and comes secondary. Just like a child, we chose to cry instead of talk. All of these misconceptions take us further from the real path of true love, leaving us instead with misunderstanding, miscommunication, and isolation. We feel lonely so frequently even when we are in a relationship.
Isn't it time for us to reconsider these ideas?
Misconception number one: love requires no practice.
The opposite proves true, practice establishes and builds love. At the beginning of a relationship, emotions are at full blossom, yet over time these feelings fade and become secondary. The more time you spend with someone, the more you wonder if you're making the right decision. This is totally normal; your subconscious is trying to communicate that it's time to learn the real love lesson of your life. It is the sign that your journey has begun! These challenging moments have positive intentions to help you find your true self, and ultimately your true love.
And, this where your training in love starts! Learning how to love is a surefire pathway to sustain your relationship. When feelings of uncertainty or resentment toward your partner arise, instead of trying to get rid of it, pass judgment or lash out, be curious instead! Curiosity is the cure for judgment. Through wonder and contemplation, you can understand how everything started, including why you feel the way you feel. Start asking the right questions like "What is this that bothering me?", "What is he/she truly thinking?", "How can we make this situation better?" Instead of a pile of emotional nothingness, you will find deep insights about yourself, relationship, partner etc. These are useful insights that act as your own Wikipedia about love and relationships.
Next time, whenever you feel an argument brewing, remember to be curious and of course, take a few deep breaths. I'll be blunt and tell you it's not going to be easy, but everything has to start somewhere. I can guarantee you though, that as long as you have the true intention of trying, you will find a way to get it. This practice is an essential component of true love.
Misconception number two: "He/she can read my mind."
It's no surprise that poor communication in a relationship usually results in an emotional outburst. This occurs when we carry a mindset that assumes. We assume that we know the thought patterns of the other person. We project our feeling and thoughts onto them. This is why when they act opposite to what we want, we get upset.
I have suffered from stomach problems for so many years of my life; if I don't eat on time I would get sick with a horrible stomachache! Whenever I get this stomachache I would be so disappointed with my husband for not making sure that I ate on time. I was also upset that he didn't seem to care about his mealtime because he didn't have the same sickness that I had.
I thought to myself, "If he loves me, he will help make sure I eat on time so I don't get sick." I assumed that he would feel what I feel and somehow catch me if I fall. These high expectations and assuming mindset did not help me get what — it left me with frustration and disappointment instead. The breakthrough from this cycle required me to tap into my personal power. I needed to realize that I am the one and only person who can make sure that I will eat on time. If I need my husband to help remind me, or do anything to avoid not eating on time, I need to communicate in a clear and loving language about exactly what I need. He is not living in my head or body and therefore impossible for him to know or truly experience my pain. So, what is this love language like?
I'm going to share with you a detailed yet simple formulate to level up your communication style.
Recipe number one: "You know what I would love?" and follow that with your request.
If I want my husband to help remind me of the mealtime I'd say something like: "You know what I would love, honey? I would love for you to make sure that I will eat on time." A clear, loving and direct message. Using this language will ensure your partner feels the sincerity in your request and will more likely get them to give you what you want.
Recipe number two: I call this a "Communication Sandwich."
Start by sharing something you appreciate, follow it with your request about what you want, and then add some more acknowledgment in the end. Voila! Your simple sandwich helps you express your request in a way that's full of love. I'd say something like: "Hey honey, I appreciate that you are joining me for this meal. Next time I would love to eat earlier so I don't put myself at risk for a stomach ache. I know that you always try your best and I am grateful for that!"
Recipe number three: Listen First, Ask Later
There are always two or multiple versions of a story depending on who is the storyteller. It's easy to get stuck in negative emotions when you only care about your side of the story. Getting curious and compassionate will help you understand the situation and help you get what you ask for. Listen to your partner, your loved one or your friend about what they are feeling and why they do what they do. This will make them more open to hearing your side of the story and help you both reach an understanding where you can get what you've been asking for. In my case, I could simply ask my husband why he decided to eat later? What is his reason to not care about mealtime? Only then would I discover that he is having a tough time at work and his mind wasn't in the moment. It wasn't me that he doesn't care about, it just that his mind was fully consumed with something else at the time.
Now, some of you might say "I've tried this, it doesn't work". As I mentioned, love takes practice! True love doesn't come in a box that wraps nicely. True love is patient and it is hard because you have to try over and over and over with building upon empathy and communication. Yet each time you practice, you stretched yourself to another level, expanding and bettering yourself in a million ways.
To all lovers out there — love yourself and don't be afraid to ask for what you want and actually get it! It is not that what you want is impossible to get, it's about how you ask for it that will determine if you're gonna get it.