Dr. Pam Thompson

Dr. Pam Thompson

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Why Should I Have to Tell Him?

I’d be oh so rich if I had a dollar for every time someone rhetorically asked in couple’s therapy, “why should I have to tell him/her (with much attitude): what needs to be done around the house; to send me something on Valentine’s Day; to help me with the kids; to give me some cave time; to help me bring in the groceries; to compliment me; to get off the phone; to buy me some flowers; on and on and on…” I used to be one who thought this way many moons ago. I used to think it spoiled the romance or the sincerity of it all if I had to ask my boyfriend for something pretty apparent or state my desires directly. I fancied that if a guy loved me, he would just KNOW what I needed/wanted without me having to make it so explicit. Ha! I get a good chuckle out of that today. “When I was a child I thought like a child…” (1 Cor 13:11). 

Unfortunately, it’s no laughing matter for many couples struggling to survive. This “just-figure-me-out-without-me-having-to-tell-you” mindset is killing these precious unions unnecessarily. I was recently working with a couple who is headed toward divorce after only 3 years of marriage mainly because they’ve made a boatload of assumptions about each other without EVER asking specifically and firmly for what they most needed. They’ve been so “polite” with each other that they never developed intimate knowledge of one another, choosing instead to feel their way along in the dark—hoping to have more hits than misses. For the record, I say again in the famous words of General Patton, “Hope is not a strategy.” This couple is learning this the hard way. 

As the Bible instructs, “You have not because you don’t ask…” (James 4:2). The last time I checked, nobody was in the mind-reading business, and life is way too busy to waste time trying to decipher one’s cryptic codes of communication. Stop hoping and hinting and start asking and telling. Men and women, or people in general for that matter, are wired so uniquely with different gender-based, social/cultural, and family experiences that what appears obvious to one individual because of that person’s unique perspective could be oblivious to the next individual without that same exposure, familiarity, training, understanding, gifting, etc. When you have stated your desires and needs gently, lovingly, and clearly, you have a better chance of receiving. Duh!? You eliminate the need to take someone’s oversight or ignorance PERSONALLY and thereby get your feelings bent out of shape. So before you poke out your lips and get your pout on, ask yourself first, “Did I disclose to this person concretely what I wanted or was I just sitting back waiting on him/her to disappoint me again so I could play the ‘gotcha’ game?” “Did I ask in non-demanding tones?” “Did I give him or her freedom to get it done within a flexible and considerate time frame?”

Here’s one example I had someone tell me long ago of a brilliant way to get what you want and still enjoy some element of surprise when it comes to gift-giving for instance. One young lady told me she gives her husband a list of 10 things she desires for Christmas and tells him to pick one or more of what’s on the list. In this way, he has the freedom to make the choice, and she still gets what she wants though she remains clueless of what item(s) he’ll select. This is very much how our heavenly Father operates with us. He gives us a great deal of freedom WITHIN certain lovingly provided parameters. Could this work for your relationship with housework? Date nights? Romantic gestures? Figure out what makes you feel most loved and be sure your significant other knows and understands it. Compliment him/her when it is provided—even if it’s just changing the oil in your car, cutting the grass, or mopping the floor. Who couldn’t use a little more edification (Ephesians 4:29) where we are “caught” doing something right?

What say you?

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