HintingWhat is wrong with what you want?

How we share our wants and needs with our spouse determines how well we get them met. This could be sharing something relatively trivial, like where to go to dinner tonight, or very important, like quitting a job to go to school.

Some examples:

“So, the guys are getting together for cards this Saturday.”

“All my shoes hurt my feet.”

“We’re probably going to save a lot on heating this month.”

So why do we hint rather than just say it? Some reasons we hint are: because we don’t trust that our needs are important to our partner; because we don’t believe we deserve to have those needs met; or because of a real or perceived lack of power in the relationship. These can be some stubborn reasons not to change our indirect communication style.

Here are some quick tips to reduce hinting. Write it down – if you find yourself thinking about how you will hint your way to getting your needs met, stop and take a few quick notes. Sometimes defining what our needs and wants are gives us more confidence to share them with our mate. Start small – no need to climb Everest on the first try! Start with asserting yourself on dinner plans. Frame your statement with “I would like“- this construction is simple and effective; it states your needs without demanding. Don’t overshoot – a common mistake is to be aggressive rather than assertive, especially after being on the receiving end of aggression for some time. Both your needs and your partner’s needs are important. And saying what your needs are will get you more of what you want than hinting.

I have used one of my favorite books on communication, Susan Heitler’s “The Power of Two,” as inspiration for this blog, and I recommend it highly for couples that want to improve communication in their relationship.

The answer to the question at the top of the post is that nothing is wrong with what you want. Getting what we want is a core motivation in life. Counseling can help you improve some of these above skills faster, and it can also help you address some of the deeper reasons for hinting, such as feeling unworthy of having your needs met.