Express your need. It frees your heart and leaves you with a sense of peace.
Here are examples of how it works.
Today I said to Jerry as we wandered the halls of Hobby Lobby, “I need a Christmas tree.” I said this as we strolled past all the lit artificial (but almost realistic-looking) trees twinkling in and about the orange and black Halloween decorations. Hobby Lobby tries to hit you with as many holiday choices at once as they can. Last Christmas, I vowed I would not have my Martha Stewart tabletop Christmas tree another year. The cats have chewed many of its red plastic berries and it’s too small for my many ornaments I’ve saved over the years. Jerry said in reply to my expressed need for a Christmas tree, “Well, Bronwyn, we’d have the same problem as we always have, no place to store it.” I think he thought his lamenting the storage problem made the purchase of a tree a non-starter. I said, “I’ll make room for it in the garage, as you have made room for your motorcycle. And I need a Christmas tree as you needed a motorcycle.” The conversation ended there. Silence. We headed to Home Depot where Jerry planned to pick up some air filters and while there I noticed a tall artificial Christmas tree with changing colors in gorgeous LED lights. The sales clerk decided to give me a demonstration just as Jerry walked up and stood beside me. “It has blue, and orange, and green and red lights,” she said, flipping the remote to show the various colors. “I didn’t see the purple lights,” I told her. She switched the remote to purple. “It glowed in purple majesty.” The sales clerk added, “This tree costs $398 and there’s no way I would pay that.” I wondered if Home Depot hired her to persuade customers to not buy their Christmas trees? Maybe she wasn’t a woman but a man posing as a woman. That’s all I can think at the moment for her to make a remark like that. She, or he, should have said, “There are things in life you don’t count the cost of, diamonds, roses, and Christmas trees.” Not her. She said, “Whew! That tree is too expensive for me.” Jerry could have hugged her. Thank you man posing as a saleslady in Home Depot.
Expressing need doesn’t need to be for “things” only, but for emotional needs too. Here are some things I’ve tried with Jerry and discovered they work.
1. “I need you to listen and express sympathy.” This avoids the pressure Jerry often feels to solve my problem, which is followed by his frustration with me when I suggest his solution won’t work. He then invariably says in an exasperated tone, ‘Then solve it your own way!’” I now simply say, “I need you only to listen and give me sympathy.” What do you know! Jerry listens and then says in a very heartfelt manner, “I’m sorry. Anything I can do?” And I say, “You have given me all I need with your sympathy. Thank you.” And then love birds flit and flutter above our heads.
2. No one’s a mind reader. Jerry’s first wife~yes, there was a previous Mrs. Wilson~spent a lot of time sulking (as Jerry tells it) and he would ask her, “Is anything wrong?” and she would reply, “You should know.” Well what planet was the ex-Mrs. Wilson from? Husbands often don’t know. If you think they do, you are going to sit and sulk a long time. Did she want a new dishwasher? Did she want to go to a Neil Diamond concert? Was she upset he didn’t make her blueberry pancakes for breakfast? Jerry didn’t know…
3. It’s a long wait for ‘special.’ Someone said to me that if you have to tell your husband what you need, it isn’t special. My response is this: Do you want a vacuum cleaner for Christmas? Is that special? Because if you don’t tell him what you need, you could end up with something that has a long cord and prompts thoughts of house cleaning. Both Jerry and I had short-term marriages before we met each other. My first husband gave me a sucking, electrical cleaning device for Christmas. You can’t imagine my let-down after opening the bright, shiny box under the tree to discover it held a Hoover vacuum cleaner. Oh joy! Let me plug it in and start the vacuuming immediately. I didn’t tell Mr. First Husband what I needed for an enjoyable Christmas morning, which in hindsight was to have my mind free of thoughts about vacuuming.
Here’s the main thing to remember.
Avoid stating your need with “I want” or “I’d like.” This leaves you open to Jerry’s favorite line, which he says with a sly smile, “Well, Bronwyn, people in hell want ice water too.” You see? You aren’t taken seriously.
Here are other examples of expressing your need rather than ‘want’ or ‘like to have.’
“I need a hug.”
“I need you to speak to me with patience.”
“I need to know right now that I’m important to you.”
You’ll be be surprised how well this works. Of course, there’s risk. Life is risk. Your husband or wife might say, “I don’t feel like hugging you.” Or he/she could say, “You’re not that important, so forget it.” Well if he/she says the latter comment, I would think separate homes in separate states would be the next step in your marital journey. But in my own experience, Jerry is happy to supply whatever emotional need I express no matter what time of day.
4. We’re not cats. I can only guess what my cats need above and beyond the basics, like salmon Fancy Feast, water and fresh cat litter. I thought they’d like a nice comfy pet bed, so I bought one at Costco. No! They do not like the pet bed. They prance way around it with their noses high in the air. They will sleep on anything, my suitcase or a packing box just as long as I get that pet bed away from them. I’m sure if I bought a suitcase or cardboard box specifically made for cats to sleep on, my cats would avoid it. The point is, we are not cats. Humans can express needs in a verbal way, and without clawing or scratching (I only scratch and claw occasionally).
This brings me to the second important step in getting what you want. Ask.
I recall an Oprah show where a lady in the audience stood up and said, “Oprah, I’d like to invite you to my house.” Oprah said thank you for the invite and nothing more. At the commercial break she asked her staff to find out where she lived while also asking the lady’s friends to keep it a secret. A few Oprah shows later, Oprah shows up at the lady’s doorstep, knocks on the door. The lady gasped when she answered, “Oprah, what are you doing here?” And Oprah said, “You asked me to come and here I am.”
That show stuck with me. I realized you often don’t ‘get’ unless you ask. I can’t tell you how many times since then that I’ve asked and got what I asked for.
If you feel you deserve a refund for a bad night’s stay at a hotel–ask. They will give it to you, but only if you ask. They won’t offer.
Businesses want your business and if they don’t provide the service they promise, they need to give you a refund or gift certificate or discount. Don’t complain as they will only apologize for your discomfort or inconvenience while placing their hands over their ears and singing, “la, la, la, la,la.” Tell them what you need. Ask.
At times, people do know what we want without us telling them. My sister Jodee made me a turkey burger when everyone else had regular burgers. “This is what I wanted. How did you know?” She said, “I just knew.” Jerry knew I would love chicken-noodle soup for dinner tonight as I’m battling a cold. He made the most delicious soup and served with it a Benadryl capsule on a platter covered with a silver cloche . Even so, the people in our lives don’t always know what we need if we don’t state it.
Back to the Christmas tree. Yes, it’s a ‘want’ more than a ‘need.’ In actuality, to survive I only need food, water, oxygen, my moisturizer and hot coffee. Those are physical needs. We also have emotional needs, such as love and companionship. And we have spiritual needs too, the need to know we matter and have a purpose.
That said, I need a Christmas tree. I’ll keep you posted.
♥♥♥for now, good-bye.