When we are experiencing heightened levels of stress, it is important to take care of ourselves. Often times, we have a support network that will assist us as well. Other times, we become frustrated with our support network for not meeting our needs. This may be our spouse or partner, family, or friends. Many of us have the tendency to operate on the basis that those closest to us have a sixth sense, so to say, to know what we need when we need it the most.
However, the truth of the matter is, if we truly need or want something, we need to ask for it. While sometimes others can pick up on our needs by analyzing our actions or interpreting our words, to have the best chances of our needs being met, we need to directly and explicitly communicate those needs with those who we expect to meet those needs.
To have the best chances of our needs being met, there are a few things for us to keep in mind to have the best chance of being successful. First, we need to determine whether the person we are asking is the appropriate person. Are they the right person to ask? For example, one should not go to your grocer for marital advice or support. You may go to a counselor, or your spouse, or perhaps a trusted religious figure.
Secondly, does this person have the ability to meet our needs? Do they have the specific skill, talent, or capability to meet our needs? Again, we would not go to our local grocer for financial advice. However, if we wanted information on how to pick out the perfect cantaloupe or advice on a piece of meat, our grocer may be the best option.
We also want to look at the timeliness of our request. Is this the best time to make our request? If we want to have a serious discussion with our spouse or partner, asking before work, or right before bed may not be the most opportune moment. Rather, it may be wise to let our spouse or partner know that we want to talk with them, and ask when the best time might be.
Finally, we want to make sure that our request is direct and specific. Many times we might be vague in our requests, or we make a statement in lieu of a request and expect the other to pick up on our needs. One might make the statement that they are tired and hungry, rather than asking whether their spouse or partner is able/willing to make dinner that evening. Or we may vaguely tell our spouse or partner that we need more help around the house, rather than providing them with specific examples of what we need assistance with, such as asking them to help with doing laundry and washing the dishes every other night.
-Karen Rosian, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist