Modern society tells us, “Go out and get the most out of life!” What we may not realize is that it may be to the detriment of your relationship. According to Matthew Kelly’s book The Seven Levels of Intimacy, the-get-what-you-want philosophy cannot give birth to any form of significant or satisfying relationship for two people. It can only give birth to selfish fulfillment of one person’s desires at the expense of the other person’s real and legitimate needs.
A good example is the basic premise of what the view of “manhood” between a man and a woman. Today, women are frustrated because they want their husbands to be MEN. That could mean a variety of things; holding it down on the job, holding in down at home, and holding it down in the bedroom. In reality is that all you need from your man? Is that the definition of manhood?
Biologically, they are already living up to their end of the bargain. Women haven’t clearly expressed specifically what they need from their husband. Therefore, the husband will never be able to live up to this expectation because they are unsure of your need and they will not fulfill your illegitimate WANT because its selfish in nature.Men don’t help because themselves either because they will never clearly state what they need from their wife. In fear of being soft, or feeling vulnerable they know they can’t HOLD IT ALL DOWN. On the other hand, they do know what they want, and they want it all the time.
Do you personally know what you need from your spouse? Does your spouse know what you need from them?
These are very difficult questions to answer because it takes a certain mindset to ensure that clearly express these needs. Sure there are basic needs like food, air and the like. But I’m talking about needs around the 4 dimensions of your character: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. These needs are subtle, and not easily communicated unless you have mastered the other levels of intimacy.
Am I saying that you should deny getting some personal fulfillment in life. No! What I am saying is that if you constantly focus on your personal wants in your relationship you will continually come up short in happiness and fulfillment. That’s when the competition occurs because you will expect your spouse to fill the wants that you couldn’t achieve yourself. Then you use emotional blackmail and manipulation to get your way. You know the mantra “If you loved me, you would…”
A good example of the manipulation game is one of a woman who had a very stressful year that included obstacles with her teenage daughter and her own personal health. For her birthday she wanted to get away so she took a cruise. She wanted her husband to go, but he decided to not to because he knew it would be a strain financially. The wife really wanted him to go, so by the fact that he didn’t she felt he wasn’t connected. He interpreted her trip as being selfish, no matter what he was feeling.
What never happened in this discussion is what they both needed from their partner. She needed to be comforted, and supported for the tough time she had, while he needed to be heard and his opinion taken into account.
Relationships are not about getting what you want, it’s about helping each other strive to become the best version of yourself.
So we must reframe our thinking around the quest to pursue legitimate needs over illegitimate wants.
Step 1. Make a choice to set your individual desires aside for legitimate needs of your partner. This will begin to become a collaborative effort.
Step 2. Understand that you mate will know what you need when you need it because you don’t always say how you feel, and rarely say what you need.
Step 3. Our needs can change daily based on our circumstances. Instead of reacting in the same way, act on what your intuition is telling you and respond accordingly. Think out-of-the box if you have to.
You are at a point in your marriage that you have been able to accept their opinions, you can clearly reveal your hopes and dreams, honor his or her feelings and you are keenly aware of their faults, fears and failures.
Once you master this final level of intimacy you will reach the pinnacle of what our marriages are supposed to be.
If you are on the East Coast, enjoy this rainy weekend with your family, and spouse.