After Chinedu and Nneka had created the much-needed empathic environment to work through their marital problem, they both made a list of the things they need from each other to feel loved and secured in the relationship. Nneka’s list was as follows;
1) Call me to let me know how you doing at least twice during working hours .
2) When you come back home let’s spend an hour just talking about each others day.
3) Can we spend the whole of Sundays together, chatting, going out or doing things we like together?
4) Let’s share a kiss before we leave and after we come from work
5) I wish you would always sleep in our bedroom and on our bed instead of in the living room as you sometimes do
6) I would love to be hugged by you at least three hugs every day
7) I would love it if you shared your plans with me so we can work on it together instead of informing me about it after you have accomplished it.
8) Considering how busy you already are at work, is it possible that you reduce the church activities you attend during the week so you could come home early on the days you are not going to church?
Chinedu’s list was as follows
1) I would love to be left alone to read or watch TV for 30mins when I come back from work cos that’s how I decompress.
2) I get distracted having to pick several calls from you at work. Is it possible you wait till i come home then we talk, so that you only call me at work for emergencies?
3) Friendships are very important to me, I would love to hang out with the guys over the weekend and watch sports.
4) Let’s do something fun together once a month
5) I wish we could hang out with our friends
From reading the requests above, you can easily notice Chinedu’s desire to maintain his ‘independence’ while Nneka seeks more connection.
The more Nneka makes attempt to get closer, the further Chinedu pulls away from her. The seeming independence that Chinedu displaces is the way he has learned to handle emotions by avoiding them entirely and not because he doesn’t love his wife.
The wife’s anxiety makes him even more uncomfortable and hence the need to run further away.
Notice that their need statements were written as wishes and not in a confrontational or critical manner, as that would be counterproductive.
For many of us it is easier to state what we don’t want than what we want. This is a problem because our partners may find it difficult to know what to do.
I have heard partners say ‘I don’t know what she wants me to do, I have tried this and that but there is no pleasing her’ or women say ‘he complains about everything I do, I can’t do right by him’
The second thing to note is the need statements are measurably making it easy for the spouse to determine if they are achievable or not, the success rate can be determined more readily.
Thank you for your continuous reading, looking forward to reading you feedback, our case study continues next week.