If you are asking yourself why is it so hard to directly as for what you want or need, you are getting at the root of your suffering! However, if you are like most self-sufficient women, you are probably most aware of the many ways in which your partner is falling short, and for sure you are letting him know by constantly criticizing him or giving him a look of disapproval.
If you are courageous and honest with yourself, you may be willing to admit to the depth of your resentment. Although it requires you to be ready to let go of the idealized (martyr) version of yourself as someone who is always willing to give without expecting to receive in return, or who is content with the crumbs that you receive in your relationship.
Sharing your most vulnerable needs and wants, however, is not something you have even considered because in your version of “what love is,” your partner should know “exactly” what it is that you want them to do, BUT without having to ask.
…How is that working for you? The truth is that you are good enough at pretty much everything you do, and you prefer to sulk in silence and to boil in a broth of resentment rather than let your loved one know about your most vulnerable needs and wants. You are afraid of looking needy or weak. Or perhaps you are scared of sounding selfish. You may also worry that if you dared to muster the courage to speak up for what you want, your partner will reject you or dismiss you. Or you are afraid that you are asking for “too much.”
Instead of owning your fears, you justify your resentment. Instead of learning to ask and to receive, you get more extreme in your overdoing, over-stretching, over-developed sense of responsibility and duty.
But deep inside you feel lonely and disconnected. You have bought into the story that plays in your mind about victimhood and loneliness.
Ask yourself, what would happen if I allow yourself to be honest and direct about what I want? As you wrestle with this question, you may notice a surge of anxiety because deep inside, you know that you are breaking a vow or a rule by which you have lived your life. Being need-less was necessary at some point in your life. Perhaps as a child, someone important told you that you were “too much.” It is not unusual to find, self-reliant women who grew up in families where someone else’s needs were more important than theirs. Or with parents who were so overwhelmed or stressed, that they felt that it was best to shrink their “neediness” as a way to not become a burden.
Knowing how you got to the place you are now is essential, but most important is to know that you are likely to be replaying a theme of the past. Your coping mechanism was the best thrive and stay connected to the people you depended for survival. But right now, is no longer serving you. It is leaving you lonely and depressed. It may cost you your marriage.
What would happen if next time, as soon as you notice your critical voice coming up to devalue your partner or to call you weak for wanting help making dinner, you ask your partner to make arrangements to have dinner ready so that you can finish your project? Or as soon as you notice the story about victimhood and martyrdom coming up in your mind, you ask for your partner to take the dog for a walk? Or when the feeling resentment comes up, instead you make courage and allow yourself to ask for that hug or sex?
Therapy research shows that insight without action does not lead to change. We can sit down to intellectualize about our problems or our dreams. But if we are not taking action, nothing will change. Experiment and let us know how things changed and the obstacles you faced when trying to do things differently.