“In your wildest dreams, what would you want from your relationship?” That’s the first question I ask couples who come to me for advice. The responses are often things like better communication, more help around the house, decrease of fighting, or friendship.
However, when we start to dig deeper, every single person eventually realizes these smaller needs are part of a greater whole. They need to feel secure, protected and cared for by their partner.
This is no surprise. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, every individual needs safety and love in order to thrive and reach ultimate self-actualization. We all have an innate need to feel cherished by our partners. So what holds most couples back from getting this need met?
Every relationship is different, so I’m not going to pretend I know the exact answer. However, there are universal principles that may be holding you back from truly feeling cherished in your relationship:
1. You’re holding on to resentment.
When you resent your spouse, your relationship is surrounded with anger and fear, and it becomes impossible to sustain a close, intimate bond. Resentment is often based in a feeling of being trapped or being helpless. Take a close look at the resentments you are holding toward your partner, and understand your part in the situation. For example, if you believe your husband’s life is easier or more fun than yours and you resent him for that, ask yourself what choices you have made in your life that have led to this. What choices can you make to change it?
2. You lack self-love.
We must learn to meet our own needs rather than expecting anyone else to meet them. Expecting our partners to fulfill all of our emotional needs puts undue pressure on the relationship and on you and your partner. Fortunately, once we learn to love ourselves deeply, our partner’s love becomes a bonus rather than a necessity.
3. You’re withholding grace, gratitude, or forgiveness.
We are all “perfectly imperfect.” That’s why it’s so important to show grace by offering and accepting forgiveness. Remember, it is more important to build a bond in your relationship than it is to be right in an argument. Every time you give appreciation and gratitude to your partner you give them the strength they need to protect and cherish you.
4. You’re not communicating openly.
Communication is not the problem, nor is it the only solution. But it is a crucial tool in building a connection between you and your partner. The key to becoming a better communicator is to understand your own feelings and then express them to your partner. When you express your feelings, it fosters safety and trust in your relationship, which, as we know, leads to feeling cherished!
5. You lack clarity about your own wants and needs.
Your partner is not a mind-reader, but most likely, they truly want to understand you better. But clearly communicating your wants and needs is impossible if you don’t even know what they are. Understanding your core values, solidifying your life goals, and identifying the type of support you need from your partner is the first step to getting what you want and need both in and out of your relationships.