Take a minute and think back to when you were dating. Not just dating your spouse, but dating generally. You were looking for ‘the one’. You wanted someone who made you laugh, gave you butterflies, made you feel sexy,, made you feel wanted, and didn’t make you cry. Maybe you even made a needs v. wants list to help you decide what you were really looking for in a long term partner. If you didn’t write it on paper you at least did it mentally. Through this it helped you discover who you really wanted and helped you weed out some of the people you dated along the way.
Ultimately, were looking for someone who fulfilled your needs to marry. Of course you did. If they didn’t fulfill your needs why would you marry them? Why get married at all if that person didn’t fulfill your needs? This is such a no-brainer that they would fulfill your needs that you even had a lot of (bad) breakups because the person you were dating at the time just didn’t fill your bucket. They didn’t meet your needs so you moved on trying to find someone who did.
Somehow, along the way, you did find someone who met your needs (and even a lot of your wants). You made sure of it. You dated them for a while just so you could make sure they did. So when you finally did find the one who gave you butterflies, made you laugh, made you feel wanted, sexy, etc, you settled down and married them thinking that this was going to be a match made in heaven. Someone who knows you so well and makes you feel all the ways you do had to be sent to you by God himself. There’s no other way to explain it.
But this drive to find ‘the one’ who will meet your needs is immature. And it’s hurting your relationship today.
Wanting your Needs Met is Hurting Your Relationship
Here’s why: As a human, you are multifaceted and infinitely complex. Even the most well renowned PhD’s and M.D.’s don’t have human psychology or the brain figured out. So expecting your partner to have your psychology figured out is just silly. To expect them to ‘just know’ what makes you feel secure, loved, etc. is a tall order that is setting your partner up for failure.
This is where a lot of experts would chime in and say this is why it’s important for couples to communicate needs and not expect your partner to be a mind reader. Some would even say that’s a sign of a healthy marriage where two partners can openly communicate their needs and have them be met by each other. But I disagree.
Expecting your partner to meet your needs is awfully demanding – and can even be controlling. It’s also assuming that you know what your own needs are to be able to tell them to your spouse. In my 7 years of counseling couples I’ve found that this usually isn’t the case. Just ask any husband who’s been yelled at to do the dishes only to find that his wife is still mad at him when he does. Or ask any wife who gives in to pressures for more sex just to find out that he still wants more. Sure, they say that’s what they need – but it really isn’t.
Expecting your Partner to be Attuned to You is Not Respecting Them
Ultimately, expecting your partner to meet your needs is not being respectful to them. They are a person. They are also multifaceted and complex. Just like you, they are trying to juggle the many facets of life. And just like you, it’s hard for them, too. They don’t exist to make you happy. Even if you are married. That’s just possessive. They have problems of their own they’re trying to workout.
So if you don’t get married for someone to meet your needs, then why get married at all? I got an answer for that one, too: You get married because you are a capable and competent person who can stand on your own two feet. And you get married because you have found someone who adds to your life journey in ways that are irreplaceable. When you can say that you can fulfill your own needs, and you still found someone who makes your life journey even better, then you’ll have a marriage that is rewarding and long lasting.
About the Author:
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. He specializes in helping couples overcome stale relationships and infidelity.