Let’s just say there was a lot going on in the family in which I grew up. Both Mom and Dad worked. One of my sisters was handicapped and the other sister gave my parents a run for their money. I was self-sufficient and didn’t cause trouble. If I needed a ride to an activity or money to go to camp, it was best if I figured out how to get it myself. I learned not to make requests. Even on the rare occasions when I did, I felt my asking was bothersome. In time, I stopped asking—even when a major problem arose, and I really needed help. I think I even stopped letting myself desire.
Old Habits Die Hard
What happens when you get married and you bring all your well-learned lessons into your marriage? Maybe you don’t communicate your needs, so your spouse assumes you don’t have any pressing needs. You would like a little help with the weekly chores or with driving the kids to their activities, but because you don’t ask, “Will you help me?” your mate lets you do the chores and driving alone and busies themselves with their own activities. Or perhaps you are down in the dumps and would love a listening, compassionate ear. But you don’t say, “I’m hurting,” so your spouse assumes you are fine and goes about their business. The real danger comes when you reach a boiling point and explode all over your unsuspecting mate who had no idea there was a problem.
Or, maybe your husband or wife would genuinely like to lighten your load or minister to your heart, but they don’t know how. They could use a few specific ideas—a little guidance. But because life has taught you that if you ask, you run the risk of being turned down, you withhold the request. The result is that you deny your spouse the opportunity to serve and to be a supportive teammate. They might derive great joy from being able to help you, but you’ll never find out if you don’t risk asking. Writer-speaker Kathy Collard Miller tells a funny story about learning to ask her husband for flowers. You can listen to it over on Facebook.
Catch More Flies With Honey
When you do get up the courage to verbalize a request to your husband or wife, remember to make your request in a way that will be well-received. “I would love it if you would bring me flowers from time to time,” is guaranteed to work better than, “If you listened to me once in a while, you’d know I like flowers!” “I’m so tired. Would you be able to . . .” will be better received than, “If you could put down the TV remote for a few minutes and help . . .” Or try, “It’s been a rough week. Will you just hold me?” and see what happens.
If you’ve been conditioned not to ask, making a request will seem like a huge risk. Risk asking anyway—and see what happens.
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