In Lost in Translation, I wrote about a typical husband’s desire for his wife to be more passionate. I encouraged you to understand what your husband means and try to fulfill that. I suggested that you help your husband better see what you already are doing toward that end.
The other side to this is equally important—getting our needs met. Although I often write about a husband’s desires and perspective, in no way does that diminish you, your perspective, or your needs. Both spouses matter in marriage.
What can you do when you’re the one with a need that isn’t being met?
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For me, the need that caused the biggest issue was emotion. While my husband always wanted me to be more passionate about sex, I always wanted him to be more passionate about emotion.
Your need may be a little different from mine. Maybe it is something sexual that your husband isn’t doing. Maybe it is about another aspect of your relationship.
Whatever your unmet need is, these four suggestions may be able to help.
1. Know what your desires are.
Specifically, how it would it look if your husband fulfilled these desires? For me, emotional attention would look like this: He asks me how I’m feeling. When I respond, he acknowledges my feelings and does not suggest solutions. He pays attention to signs of my mood and anticipates what would help, such as offering a shoulder rub. He wraps me in his arms on a frequent basis, even if I don’t seem to need it at the time. He works on his own emotional awareness and seeks comfort from me. If he wanted me to be a tigress more often, I wanted him to be a strong teddy bear.
2. Understand your needs.
Needs are not the same as desires. My desire was for my husband to be more emotionally attentive. The deeper heart need that fed this desire was a need to be fully seen and to be accepted and valued for such a core part of myself (my emotions). Some of my emotional desires were based on needs that I should have been taking to God instead of putting on my husband. When I understand what my deeper need is, I can better look for a variety of ways this need can be met. The desires I have may not be the only way to have this need met. (See A Place Deep Inside for more about this.)
3. Communicate with your husband about both your needs and your desires.
Be concrete and specific about how he can fulfill your desires and meet your needs. Let go of the thought, If he truly loved me, he would just know what to do. This is not true, and it is an unfair expectation. Most husbands want to do what it takes to make their wives fulfilled and happy, they just don’t know how. So tell him. Also, ask him for ideas on how he can help you get your needs met, even if the specifics of your desire (how you want the needs met) aren’t things he think he can do.
4. Work hard to see the ways your husband already tries to meet your needs.
When my husband tries to solve a problem for me, I often feel frustrated because I shared the problem because I want to be seen and I want to share my inner life with him, not because I want it fixed. However, his attempt to problem solve is his way of showing me that he sees me and cares about what I’m feeling. Should he try to meet my needs in a way that matters to me? Absolutely—but I should also try to see the heart of what he is trying to do for me. When Big Guys gives me a hug that includes a sexual caress, he is showing me in his own way that he wants to be connected with me. I spent so many years focusing on what he wasn’t doing the way I wanted. As a result, I completely missed seeing his genuine good-willed efforts.
When I better understand my desires and needs, clearly communicate about them, and pay attention to my good-willed husband’s efforts, I am happier and more fulfilled in my marriage.
Rather than letting your needs and desires be lost in translation, help your husband decipher them and recognize his efforts to speak love in your language.