Notes From Couple’s Therapy: No Such Thing as Mind Reading

People who excessively caretake others rarely ask for what they need. They are typically overly responsible, hard-working and loving. Once in a while, they manage to squeeze in tending to their own needs after everyone else’s needs are met — rare but sorely needed.

Trouble in the making
When detrimental caretakers (Give Away Girls) put their needs away, it’s natural for them to feel a loss.  Their needs don’t just go away though. They’re temporarily stuffed into a chest of drawers that begins to overfill. Eventually, somebody has to give the overstuffed drawers some attention. When a detrimental caretaker finally is ready for someone else to “help,” she longs for her loved one to take charge and take care.

Meet Give Away Girl Samantha
Samantha works all day, comes home and gets the house picked up, helps kids with homework, and makes dinner. She does it all. When her husband gets home, he might help with the dishes but then picks up a newspaper, kicks his feet up in the recliner and takes a break. Remember, Samantha is exhausted. She secretly expects her husband to notice her need and when he doesn’t, she makes up a story in her head that he just doesn’t care.

Samantha feels angry. She soothes her kindling emotions by drinking a glass of wine and detaches from her husband … doesn’t look at him, gives the evil eye, doesn’t ask him about his day and wonders if she ever really knew him at all. After a few more glasses of wine, she lets it all hang out. The fight is a big one, and it all starts over again a couple days later.

Your needs: the importance of being clear and direct
One of the biggest problems here is that Samantha doesn’t ask for what she needs. She is neither clear nor direct with her husband (until she’s just pissed and ready to unload her anguish on him).

Give Away Girls sacrifice themselves daily. They don’t know they’re doing it. Interestingly, they really want and need their partner to know what they need, how they need it and when they need it. Usually, in couples therapy, we discover that these tendencies have more to do with what they didn’t get as children than anything else. Nonetheless, this wanting, expecting or hoping your partner will “just know” happens a lot in intimate relationships, and it can be very destructive.

The takeaway: As hard as it may be, speak up. When you are specific about what you need, a good man will respond. He’ll be there. He’ll help. You just have to let him know what, how and when. There’s no such thing as mind reading.

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