Sharing expectations

I am working with a particular couple that can’t seem to communicate or understand each other very well. The guy thinks everything is fine and claims he has no idea why they are seeing me. The lady, on the other hand, is on the verge of leaving him because she feels their relationship is too robotic. She says her husband does things out of “obligation to the paper” (their marriage certificate) and not because of how he feels about her. She says he often jokes about marriage that she’s his ball and chain and not his loving wife that he admires.

The problem here is three fold: One, this woman is not honest to her spouse about her feelings and expectations; two, she is hesitant to say how she really feels because of the possible rejection of him not feeling the same way; and three, her two basic psychological needs are not being met.

Everyone has two basic psychological needs: We want to be loved and give love back and we want to have a sense of self worth and feel that someone else thinks the same thing – that we have value. We go through life searching in our relationships for these two basic needs. Psychotherapy attempts to put people on the path to achieve these two things. These two basic needs complete us as humans.

The lesson this couple is learning is that honesty still is the best policy. Before entering holy matrimony the single most important commodity in a relationship is honesty with the ability to freely communicate with each other. A marriage and family therapist worth his weight will help engaged couples reach this point. After the fact, you just simple need a mediator (MFT) to facilitate confidential discussions with the couple to connect the line of communication. Once connected and the rules of engagement are explained (i.e. the importance of honesty, truthfulness spoken in love) then the couple will be well on their way to being free with one another and eventually – best friends.

Are there things you have not told your spouse or mate? Have you been holding back because of fears of hurt feelings or retaliation? A failure to communicate works like cancer in the body. It spreads throughout and eventually affects everything. You start off holding back personal feelings and next you have secrets. Once secrets become commonplace, your partner can never be your “best” friend. At this point you are sacrificing intimacy for your personal hang ups – very bad practice.