“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”
Want to build up grievances and resentment in your marriage? Do this one thing all the time:
Miscommunicate your needs.
While no one willingly does so, the patterns of miscommunication as easy to fall into.
So we think we have shared what our needs are. In reality, we have simply done so in a way where our needs don't get met.
Resulting in anger and bitterness. Rinse and repeat.
What are some common forms of miscommunication?
- Not saying anything about them
- Being unclear or indirect
- Speaking about your need in the form of a criticism or complaint
When you use one of the above, you can almost guarantee your need won't be met.
In turn, you can earn the right to resent your spouse.
I have seen both sides of it.
My wife would not communicate a need till, out of frustration, would explode in anger, tearfully telling me I haven't cared about her for years because I hadn't dealt with this issue.
Color me dumb, but I honestly had no idea!
I remembered asking her a few times how her allergy was going and she said it was so-so.
Not hearing in the response a request to do something different, I stayed the course.
Instead, she had an unmet and unspoken need.
Similarly, a major financial disaster could have been averted if I made stronger and clearer requests around her adjusting her tone during crucial conversations.
Because I ended up just deferring to her perspective whenever she got angry, we made some very bad choices. I needed a way to revisit again an unmet need around how I would like to be spoken to during crucial conversations.
Neither of us knew how to persistently ask for needs in a way that could be understood and received.
From her end, the requests were unclear and never asked.
From my side, I didn't know what to do when I would not see changes in response to my requests.
Neither I nor my wife knew how to make requests.
How well are you making requests of each other in your marriage?
why this habit is crucial
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Making good requests is difficult because they are often framed in judgment and criticism. Even if they are expressed neutrally, they can be interpreted that way.
We all want to express our needs.
But it comes out wrong most of the time.
So the unmet needs build-up resentment.
what is the key principle
Expressing a need with a request needs to avoid judgment.
Instead, it needs to ground the request in a judgment-free truth.
This means exposing what is in your heart.
In today's verse from James, it's easier to know that a hungry person needs food, and that a naked person needs clothes.
What goes on in your head is not the same as lacking food and clothes.
We can see a hungry destitute person. And our natural response is compassion.
They lack food and feel hungry.
They lack clothes and feel cold and shame.
But this doesn't change the intent behind the passage.
James calls out the hypocrisy and callousness of seeing a genuine need and speaking over it rather than doing something.
It's easier to follow this, however, when you see a clear need, without the judgment.
Build your request around a true, almost naked, Need: something missing and life-sustaining within yourself, not a failure in the other person.
"I feel alone and ashamed. I'd like calm, reasoned and focused attention to discuss the problem."
"I am still experiencing a lot of itchy eyes even after I see you made a good attempt to clean the rooms. (Need) As a result I still feel unhealthy and uncomfortable. (Request) I'd like us to come up with a new solution that fits within your financial concerns."
If you have been harboring an unmet need and masking it with resentment, bring it up around a missing need.
Get at the core of your state: hungry and naked in your unmet need.
A hungry and naked person doesn't shame or blame the person when they reveal their state.
Do the same.
How to Practice this Habit
During your 15-minute daily check-in, prepare to make a request. It can be big or it can be small.
But follow this process:
- Start with your Need in a way that makes it plain and can invite Compassion
- Spend time there: give your spouse space to be Curious. If you are presented with a need, go to Curious instead of Condemned.
- Make the Request: Mutual Benefit, Specific Action, Fulfill Your Need.
If this gets out of control or bigger, reduce the scope and reach agreement: can we find a way together?
Need help implementing this 15-minute habit? Join the conversation on Twitter.
Want to build up grievances and resentment in your marriage? Do this one thing all the time:— TheMarriageHabit (@marriagehabit) March 27, 2023