So many couples are staying together in an unhappy marriage. When you ask how they’re doing, they’ll say, “OK”.
That’s code for “I’ve settled”.
In more open and honest moments, they’ll admit, “We say we’re happily married, but actually most of our needs are being met outside our relationship.”
“Everyone thinks we’re doing fine, but we don’t really feel connected. He does his thing and I do mine. We’re like ships passing in the night.”
Can you relate? Would that describe your marriage?
Well join the crowd!
Experts tell us that up to 90% of couples who stay married report their relationship as “less than satisfactory”.
Some of these couples make it to the end of their lives, surviving in this prison. Life sure didn’t turn out like they expected, but they felt hopeless to change it.
But other couples don’t survive. Their relationship eventually blows up and ends.
And it doesn’t have to be a big problem that blows it up. You’ll hear them blame it on things like, “We couldn’t agree on whether to squeeze the toothpaste from the top or the bottom of the tube.”
But here’s what actually happened:
Years of living with someone without feeling connected resulted in pain that became unbearable.
And they put off getting help until it was too late.
Dr. John Gottman said that the average time it takes for a person with a pain in their heart to call for help is four hours.
But the average time it takes for a person with a pain in their marriage to call for help is seven years!
So don’t wait!
You can break out of that place where you’re stuck by learning to ask for what you need!
Change happens when we make it safe enough for each other to turn our frustrations into desires expressed.
Then when my partner gives me what I ask for, it brings healing to me and closeness in our relationship.
But for my partner, it usually means they must be willing to grow into parts of themselves they never developed.
And that’s hard.
“Wait a minute Chuck! You said to ask for what I need? I’ve done that a thousand times and it didn’t work!”
Did you make it safe enough to ask for what you need? Or did you just ask?
Asking someone who is in a defensive mode always comes across as nagging. And you’re right! That never works!
But in a safe conversation, asking for what you want gives your partner a great opportunity to stand tall and be your hero!
And that’s when everything changes.
Just ask Mark and Sunny.
One day Mark made a request of Sunny.
It was something he really needed from her.
He was tired of them both being ships passing in the night. After years of marriage, he wanted to know this woman he lived with in a more personal way.
Turns out that request was not easy for Sunny. It required of her something she had never done. It required that she stretch and grow a part of herself that was lost growing up and never developed.
Watch their story then discuss it together with the questions below.
(This is a powerful video by one of my mentors, Nedra Fetterman. Watch it as she tells the story of her own parents, Mark and Sunny.)
Click here to watch it on Vimeo, and then come back and discuss what you saw using the questions below.
Discuss with your partner…
1. In what ways is your relationship like Mark and Sunny’s before Mark made his request?
Here are some steps that have to be followed in order to make a request that deepens the connection in your relationship.
– Create Safety
– Make a Request (small, specific, doable and positive)
– Be Courageous
2. Why is safety important?
3. Why should the goal of a request be “to connect” rather than to just make a change?
4. Why do you think this takes courage?
5. What would you like to ask from your partner right now? If the conversation feels safe, do it and then talk about it.