The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No. 2 – Getting What You Need

The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No. 2 – Getting What You Need

by Dr Emma Gray - 8th November, 2018

In this 2nd instalment of The Keys to a Healthy Relationship I am going to explain how to get what you need in your relationship, because when this happens harmony and satisfaction rules.

When doing couples counselling I often hear couples say ‘if my partner loves me shouldn’t they just know what I need?’.  As I mentioned in the first article of this series, human beings are internally focused, so thinking about others does not come naturally. It is a skill that must be learned (to see how see Key No. 1) but even when this has been learned our default position is still to use ourselves as a point of reference, so as soon as we are under the slightest bit of pressure we will revert to this.

This means that even if your partner has built their skills up here, the most reliable and stress-free way of getting what you need from your partner is to just ask for it. In theory this sounds simple, maybe even too simple for it to work. However, it is surprising quite how effective this strategy is and how it leads to considerable harmony and contentment if both partners follow through with it.

There are 2 obstacles to success here, the first is working out what it is you actually need from your partner. This can be tangled up with unmet need from your previous relationships including those with your parents, so it is worth taking the time to think through whether what you need is reasonable to ask for in this relationship. The second obstacle is in the asking, it can be hard to ask for what we need, we might feel embarrassed to ask; it can feel very revealing to admit that we need something because of the risk of being judged. We also might believe that we don’t deserve what we need especially if we have low self esteem. We might feel anxious at the thought of exposing ourselves to potential rejection. There may also still be a niggling anger than if someone cares about us enough they should be able to read our minds and if they can’t this means they don’t actually care.

The proof however is always in the pudding so try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

In the next blog I will share Key 3: The Relationship Dance


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


Read more about my approach to counselling here...


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