Mark: About a year ago Jill said, “You know what I’d love when you pick me up at the airport?” “No,” I answered, “What would you love?” She responded, “That you would bring me flowers.”  I admit I was surprised at her request but I loved that I knew a way to do something for her that she really wanted.

These are the flowers Mark brought me on my last trip!

Jill: I saw a guy waiting for his wife/girlfriend/significant other at the airport with flowers. I thought about how cherished that would make her feel. So I decided to tell Mark that!

Mark: Since Jill travels quite a bit for speaking, when I pick her up at the airport, I usually make a stop at Aldi to pick up a bouquet of flowers. I know it means a lot to Jill not only that I get her flowers but also that I don’t spend too much on them (my wife is frugal with a capital F!) so $3.99 bouquets at Aldi are just right!

Jill: Too often we hesitate to ask for what we want, the help we need, or what we desire. But we don’t. Then we are disappointed, or we stew with anger because our spouse isn’t getting our hints, or we believe we shouldn’t have to ask–he or she should just get it.

Mark: What is important to you often isn’t important to your spouse. He or she doesn’t know what would make you feel cherished. He or she doesn’t see the things you see that need to be done. They don’t have the same priorities you do so if you have a desire or need help you need to ask for it. With words…and no attitude.

Jill: For instance, I have company coming this morning and yesterday I kept seeing things I wanted to do before they arrived. Dishes done (people walk through our kitchen when they arrive at our home), vacuum run, counters wiped off. That’s all I could see because I was looking at Sunday through a Monday morning lens. Mark was not. So I had to ask him for what I needed. “Would you mind doing a quick vacuum in the kitchen tonight?”

Mark: I’m usually happy to help IF I know what Jill needs. I don’t see those things and honestly I don’t care about them like she does. But I do care about her.

Jill: The key is to ask before you get all worked up on the inside. A second key is to resist the thought that your spouse should know or should see what needs to be done.

Mark: In the same way that Jill has a running “to do” list in her head for things inside the house, I have a running “to do” list in my head for things with my business and things that need to be done with the yard, garden, and outbuildings.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed with those and need to ask Jill for help. But she doesn’t know what I need until I ask for it. “Hey, is there any way you could run to the store for me?”  She’s usually happy to help if she knows how.

Jill: Someone once asked, “But how about when you need to ask for the same things everyday? Like helping get the kids ready for school.” When there’s a morning routine, one spouse is more often the “traffic controller” than the other. That spouse usually has a running list in their head of what needs to be done. They may even be a more “sequential” thinker (see our No More Perfect Marriages book for the difference between a sequential thinker and a random thinker) and therefore they operate by a logical list in their head. If married to a random thinker, he or she could be very frustrated because they don’t seem to have the same list in their head. And they don’t!  So that traffic controller needs to ask for what he or she needs. Resist the urge to get frustrated and let your spouse know what you need him or her to do.

Mark: We’re all created differently and that includes how we see what needs to be done or what our spouse would like to feel loved. So when you know there’s something you would like for him or her to do that would speak love to you–ask for it! And the next time you find yourself seething that your spouse isn’t helping like you want, simply ask. With words. Kindly. You’ll likely find not only a willing partner but you’ll both experience a decrease in conflict. Just. By. Asking.

Jill: And if your spouse doesn’t respond to your request…well, we’ll talk about that next week!

What about you? Where do you simply need to state what you need, what you desire, or what you want? 

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