The easiest way to have our expectations met is to let others know what they are. In your marriage and family life in particular, there are five times when you need to ask for what you want for a calmer, happier life.
In our busy lives, with all of the roles we hold, it seems like we’re always operating in a high gear. There is so much to organize, so much to do, that it can get overwhelming.
In a recent episode of Gretchen Rubin’s A Little Happier, she mentioned how the act of telling someone what you wanted for dinner could result in more happiness. Not only do you get what you want, but the person making the dinner gets the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve given you exactly what you’ve been craving (perfect for someone whose love language is acts of service, I would think!).
I thought about this, and it occurred to me that there are many more instances in which telling your family what you want creates happiness for everyone, and that by doing this, you can help to reduce some of the overwhelm I mentioned above.
Now there is, of course, an art to telling people what you want. However this isn’t an article about the psychology of that – if you want some specific help in this area, then check out this article after you’ve finished here. Rather these are the specific instances in which you can make for a happier life by asking for what you want – specific instances when you might have kept quiet in the past.
Ask for what you want for gifts
Most of us have a lot of stuff, and for many of us, much time is spent figuring out what to do with that stuff. Christmas, birthdays or other gift-giving occasions can be just another accumulation of unwanted excess items.
However most of us do have a mental list of things that we either need or want.
By asking for what you want for gifts you can avoid people wasting their money and energy on things that are going to be thrown out, on-sold the day after, or simply tucked into a drawer, never to see the light of day again.
Now sometimes we really struggle with this. We think it’s being rude or presumptuous or demanding to request a specific gift. To get over those feelings, you can try strategies like suggesting it’s how the whole family approaches their Christmas gift giving this year. Put a cap on the amount of money to be spent and have everyone suggest five or six items or simply create a specific wishlist on Amazon. By providing a list of potential items as well, the element of surprise can be kept.
Ask for what you want to do
There’s only so many days that we get on this planet, and I don’t know about you, but I hate the thought of wasting even one of them.
While it is important to compromise, and also to keep yourself open to new experiences that you may not otherwise consider, there is much to be said for offering a suggestion when asked what you want to do, rather than saying “I don’t mind” or “You can decide.” This is especially the case if you do have a strong preference to do (or not do) something and yet don’t speak your mind. That’s a speedy trip to Resentment City.
If you’re the kind of person who struggles to come up with something on the spot, then have a bucket list of local places and activities, and select the third one on the list. That way you’re always prepared.
Ask for what you want done around the house
When there’s too much on your plate, it’s easy to get uptight and angry with your husband for not reading your mind and doing whatever it is that you’re struggling to get done. When you feel frustrated at their lack of help, ask yourself if you have specifically requested for assistance with a specific thing. If not, then do it.
Consider these different scenarios if you’re wondering why this is the best approach:
“Honey, what can I do to help?”
“I don’t know; why can’t you just see what needs to be done? Why do I have to do all the telling?”
“Honey, what can I do to help?”
“Can you please vacuum the house?”
Your relationship stays positive, the vacuuming is done and you both feel good: you that’s he’s listening and taken a chore off your plate, and him that he’s been useful and done what you wanted.
If you want more assistance in this area then check out How to get your husband to help around the house.
Ask for what you want in the bedroom
Sex is one of life’s great pleasures, but that hasn’t always been the case in my life. When I was younger and less confident, I was more inclined to let the man lead the way, with varying results. However as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve come to realize that no-one knows my body more than me. And due to hormone changes and other things, the things I like may vary even from day-to-day. By having the confidence to ask for what you want, you can bring a new level of satisfaction into the bedroom. What’s not to like about that?
Ask for what you want when you need time out
Sometimes everything can just get too much. When those moments happen, it’s hard to admit that we just need some time out. Instead we keep pushing ourselves, getting more and more exhausted and angry, until we snap and behave in ways we regret.
There is no shame in saying that you need a break from your life. Whether it’s for an hour, an afternoon or a day, when you get to that point you owe it not only to yourself but to everyone around you to ask for what you want.
Trust me – you will come back from your break feeling rested and ready to take on the challenges of your life once more.
So to sum up:
Asking for what we want may seem challenging at first, but the easiest way to have our expectations met is to let others know what they are. By asking your husband or family for what you want for gifts, for spending your time, for help around the house, in the bedroom, and when you need some time out, you’ll make your life that little bit simpler and happier. Not only that, you’ll also give your loved ones the satisfaction of knowing they’re meeting your needs.
Are there any other important things you think you should be asking for?