Asking for the Love You Want
You wouldn't expect to eat one good meal and not have to eat again for the rest of your life, but sometimes the need for love is thought about in this way. Perhaps you have heard yourself or your partner say, "You, should know I love after all this time. Why do I have to tell you?"
In the framework of Compassionate Communication, love is a need. Like all other needs it wants to be met in specific and consistent ways to create a balanced and thriving life.
You can meet your need for love with many people in your life in a variety of ways. With your partner, however, you likely hope to meet this need in a deeper and more consistent way. Meeting this need with your partner, and they with you, helps to create the bond that provides a secure foundation for your relationship.
To do this it helps to get more subtle and clear about what most meets your need for love. It also helps to remember that what meets your need for love isn't necessarily what meets your partner's need for love. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages simply and clearly articulates how to tune in to ways your partner's need for love is met. I highly recommend reading or listening to his book.
You can also start simply with your partner right now. You might start the conversation by asking if you can try to state all the ways she or he feels most loved by you. Ask your partner to fill in anything you missed and then switch.
In his book Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix, takes this one step farther by having each partner make a list of the specific ways he or she is loved; and then letting their partner choose from the heart two or three things she or he would like to offer in the coming week.
When you and your partner have been together for a long time, it is easy to fall asleep to the subtleties of how each of you are most loved. You might find yourself drifting toward complacency or just assuming that your partner's need for love is met in the same ways as yours.
This week take time to have the conversation listed above with your partner. Celebrate the different ways your need for love is met and challenge yourself to meet each other's need in a way you haven't been lately.
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