Shouldn’t my spouse know what I need after all these years?
“Even if you’ve been married a long time, you shouldn’t expect to your spouse to know what you’re thinking,” says Sarah Mandel, RN, LCSW, a couples psychotherapist who practices in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. “Nothing is better than communication when you’re unsure what your partner needs [or your needs aren’t being met]. These are some of the skills that I help my couples with when they experience this frustration with each other.” If you want to understand your spouse, ask for clarification and give each other the benefit of the doubt, she says. “Both of you want the same thing—a happy marriage and to be understood,” she says. When you speak, focus on each other and the conversation, without being defensive. “Express your feelings, but also listen to your partner’s needs, too,” she says. You’ll be surprised by these other secrets of happily married couples.
Should we stay together or break up?
“My role is to provide a framework in which a couple can unpack their relational issues, look at them from a number of angles and consider their options as well as the consequences of acting on these options,” says Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, an internationally renowned clinical and consulting psychotherapist.” He says that 90 percent of the time, couples turn to him when their relationship is in a crisis. That’s why you can’t rush things. “This process takes time. During this time, I help the couple improve their relationship. So, even if they decide to break up, they do so with grace, dignity, and respect for one another and the family members who’ll be impacted.”
Shouldn’t my partner know how much I care without me saying it?
No one is a mind reader, but couples still make assumptions. “It’s easy for him to misinterpret what you want and need,” says Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, a psychotherapist and relationship coach who practices in McLean, Virginia. “I tell couples they need to find ways to get their message across clearly.” She says that usually involves verbal and nonverbal communication that is consistent and avoids mixed messages. “You may not always get what you ask for, but it’s important to ask. Then you can negotiate and compromise from there.” Next, check out the 15 signs that your relationship is solid as a rock.