They are in a power struggle mainly due to hidden unmet needs. Both are feeling the other doesn’t care but neither is really wanting the relationship to end, but where they are is a living hell.
They know they are running out of time, their energy is waning, and they are fed up with the cycle of feeling good and it not lasting.
In fact, the feeling good is getting shorter and the feeling bad is getting longer so their only relief is when they are not together and they know it.
The problem with unmet needs is each person will still try to meet those needs, but will do so in a destructive way especially if they don’t feel understood or cared for.
The problem each person isn’t seeing is their partner’s critical needs are very different from their own and this is normal.
So what is critical to one person may not matter at all to the other.
As they try to communicate they will become upset angry frustrated or confused at their partner’s lack of understanding of what to them is obvious.
Both people are usually blind to these core differences and so they blame the other person for not caring and making them feel bad.
One lady told me she felt her husband’s needs were ridiculous, just because his needs were not the same as hers.
With this belief, she would always collapse any relationship she had.
In their mind, they think what they need is what everyone needs “it’s normal”.
This is NOT true of course, but that doesn’t mean what they need is wrong.
The truth is for couples in this space is they are simply very different and so not designed to understand each other at all.
The solution to the problem is to help each person meet their own critical needs so in any given situation the outcome is always a win-win situation.
To achieve this the couple will need sight of each other’s critical needs and what has to happen for them to be fulfilled.
How people are getting this wrong…
- So one person may feel unloved when the other person feels a loss of security.
- One person may feel they are going nowhere whilst the other feels there is no fun or passion.
- One person may feel they don’t matter whilst the other never feels a meaningful connection.
These are three of many dynamics couples create where each of their core needs is different to the other.
Not understanding this will create a disconnect as each person’s critical needs are never met and so they have to meet that need elsewhere.
The perspective will be their partner doesn’t care and this will build resentment.
One couple had a cycle of not seeing each other needs. She craved love and connection and he wanted to feel like he mattered to her.
What she also liked was growth and so every time they spoke she challenged his thinking. In her mind the challenge would help him to grow and to her that was loving.
To him, he felt the challenge was a criticism so he never felt he mattered to her and so he met his need through his frustration at her which made her protect herself from him.
Because he never felt he mattered to her as a result he was never interested in helping her feel loved.
So they entered a crisis.
This misunderstanding can lead them into terrible pain and that can shut down how they both feel.
The question that each person needs to understand is this: Are their partners’ needs normal or are their needs trying to fulfil an emotional distortion?
You see some people become negatively judgemental about normal healthy needs just because they are different from their own.
Other people get stuck in satisfying the needs of others that are driven by past emotional distortions.
What I see a lot of is a combination of very different needs trying to be met, but are being driven by their fears.
This creates a very upsetting and impossibly confusing dynamic for the couple.
This can lead to paralysis as the couple starts to learn no matter what they do they both make it worse.
Many couples are living in the dark with how to understand and meet each other’s needs so the marriage ends up in natural free fall.
Some people will meet their partners’ needs at the cost of their own, but this pleasing model never works.
Other people will have no clue meeting their partner’s needs are important so they enter a dangerous emotional deficit.
My message today is if you don’t meet your partner critical needs they will have to meet them away from the marriage.
In fact, one of the biggest reasons couples don’t survive is because the marriage stops being the place where they meet their needs and so it ends up becoming unimportant to them.
So how can anyone be of value to their partner and keep them invested if how they show up isn’t helping them meet these critical needs.
Every couple sufferers from this problem.
New mums may get their needs met through a child. People in successful careers may get their needs met through their job.
It’s one major factor in why empty nesters struggle so much, they enter crisis when how they met their needs was through the children now they have gone.
People who retire met their needs through their work not their marriage.
Some needs differences do naturally cause more problems than others, but with the right help, most differences can be overcome for those interested to learn.