Analyzing Your Partner's Needs
The same needs are usually met in different ways for you and your partner. Your partner's need for love may be met most easily through hearing verbally about your caring for him or her. Your need for love may be most easily met by help with the chores in daily life. You don't have to know why. That's part of the simple beauty of learning to love from this consciousness.
It's most tempting to analyze your partner when you do something that doesn't meet a need. In your mind, taking a nibble of what your partner ordered for dinner may be a reflection of the intimacy and generosity in your relationship. And for your partner it may show a lack of respect.
Be very suspicious of the mind that wants to analyze your partner's issues around scarcity and how it likely started in childhood when s/he didn't receive consistent nurturing. Even if Freud were to descend from the heavens and affirm the accuracy of your analysis, it wouldn't necessarily do much for your relationship. There's a good chance that such analysis would be used as evidence for how messed up your partner is and how healthy you are.
I don't mean to say that understanding your partner's history and how that shows up now as sensitivities and preferences isn't useful. When that information and clarity is offered by your partner, it can help you access compassion. It is your impulse to analyze on your own that you want to examine.
If asking before tasting your partner's dinner, meets his or her need for respect then you have one more simple way of meeting that need. It's easy to celebrate this when you take yourself out of it. That is, you remember that your partner's reaction to you nibbling his or her dinner is about her or him. It's not about you being wrong or doing something wrong. You simply didn't know that that wouldn't meet needs.
When you do something that doesn't work for your partner, offering empathy (a guess about what feelings and needs are up) is not only a gift to him or her, it's a gift to you. Offering empathy can help you get out of the habit of taking things personally and then having to make someone wrong or right.
Life gets so much easier when you perceive other's behavior as about their feelings and needs and not about you. Here are some "mantras" that might help you remember this in a difficult moment:
-This isn't about me.
-It's okay for my partner to be upset.
-I know my intentions are good. I am doing the best I can.
-I don't have to defend, this isn't about me.
-My partner's reactions are not my fault.
-What is my partner feeling and needing?
The next time you do something that doesn't meet needs for your partner remind yourself that it's not about you, and then get curious about what does meet his or her needs in that context.