Yearnings: Follow Your Inner-GPS to Express Your Wants and Needs in a Relationship

Do you feel like you’ve been fighting over nothing lately? Does every little thing become a nitpicky fight between you and your partner?



Are you expressing your wants and needs in your relationship? It’s a tricky question, but one that most of us have pondered before.

We believe (or maybe expect) that a relationship should meet our wants and needs. We hope that our partner will “get” us and do those things that help us feel connected, happy, and fulfilled. But most of us have probably realized that our partners aren’t mind-readers. We have to express those feelings to get them on the radar—but how?

If we want to meet our wants and needs in a relationship, we need to dive in and discover our yearnings. Here’s how.

When the Thrill is Gone

It may sound harsh, but even the best relationships hit rough patches. As the old song goes, “The thrill is gone,” and some of us might be wondering where it went

When a relationship starts, we’re often energized, engaged, and ready to put our “best foot forward.” But after a few months or years, we shift out of the lavender haze and may start to feel a loss of connection. We may feel like we’ve been fighting over nothing lately. Every little thing becomes a nitpicky fight between our partner and us.

After we cool down and step away for a minute, we might think,

  • “If we could just get away for a few days, we’d probably get along better,” or…
  • “If we’d just have sex, I’m sure we would feel reconnected.”

We may feel dissatisfied, but we can’t pinpoint the actual problem. We know that neither partner is having an affair. No one has a substance abuse problem. We still genuinely love and care about each other, but we don’t get the same sense of excitement we once did. We may even find ourselves thinking about other people or remembering other relationships fondly.

Essentially—the thrill is gone. But is it really? And more importantly, can we get it back?The good news is that all of these common relationship feelings are rooted in our yearnings.


We long to have our wants and needs met in a relationship, but we might not know how to get there. These longings are what we call yearnings. They are feelings that we all have—hunger of the soul. They go deeper than “I want to look good naked” or “I want to go on vacation.”


Yearnings speak to the desires of our heart:

  • We yearn to be acknowledged and known.
  • We yearn to be seen, valued, and loved.
  • We year for respect, connection, intimacy.

For most couples, yearnings and unmet yearnings are at the root of dissatisfaction and at the heart of every fight. Our yearnings drive us. Like GPS, they steer us toward the direction of greater happiness and satisfaction. Our yearnings push us toward the things we want.

We often say that yearnings make couples tick, and unmet yearnings tick couples off.

We can imagine for a moment: what it is like when our yearnings are met in our relationship. Think of a time when we got home, and our partner’s eyes lit up when they saw us. They told us how much they missed us and couldn’t wait to hear about our day.

Imagine telling that partner about something extraordinary that happened during the day and knowing our partner is thrilled for us. Envision asking them for something that we really wanted—a dinner, a long walk, a conversation, physical contact—and having them enthusiastically agree. Or imagine telling them something we’re dissatisfied with, and they acknowledge our feelings and work together on a resolution. These would be examples of interactions that speak to our inner yearnings.

When our yearnings are ignored or unmet in our relationship, we may find ourselves drifting in opposite directions. Maybe we’re feeling distant from our partner, but we aren’t sure why. We might be afraid to bring up problems and discuss our feelings because we’re sensing a hidden middle finger (or giving one ourselves). We might withdraw from the relationship and feel a sense of disconnectedness.

Expressing Your Yearnings: It’s Not Actually About His Socks on the Floor

Our yearnings are extremely powerful. They go deeper than wishing that our spouses would stop putting their socks on the floor. But sometimes, something as simple as socks on the floor can make us feel like our yearnings are ignored and brushed aside. If having a clean, organized home is important to one partner but not the other, there might be an incongruency. That difference is underscored when the preference isn’t something that’s been clearly expressed. Often one partner doesn’t realize the importance of picking up the socks, while the other partner feels ignored and frustrated.

Years of socks on the floor pile up, and so do frustrations. Each night the irritation builds as we silently pick up our partner’s socks and seethe about it. Eventually, this can lead to resentment. We make a crack about our spouse’s sloppiness to friends. We make something he hates for dinner. We ignore his comments about his day. We’re silent and angry, and our spouse is confused about why we’re so cold and annoyed with them.

But at the root, we probably grew up in different households with differing standards of cleanliness. To one partner, socks are no big deal—a sign of feeling relaxed and comfortable. To the other partner, socks on the floor are an affront that says, “I don’t care about the work you put into our household. I don’t respect you or notice your efforts.”

We’re often engaged in these little power struggles in relationships, and we aren’t even aware that they’re happening. These little resentments and actions build up and can even cause explosive fights that seemingly go nowhere. Our partner might start picking up the socks, but it doesn’t resolve the underlying issue. At the root of the fight is often an unmet yearning.

Yearnings are significant wants and needs in a relationship. They may be:

  • Yearning to be respected,
  • Yearning to be cared for,
  • Yearning to be safe and secure,
  • Yearning to nurture and grow, and
  • Yearning to be appreciated.

Notice that nowhere on this list is “yearning for picked-up socks.” That’s because the true yearning isn’t really about the laundry pile. It’s something more poignant that runs much deeper. Yearnings are connected to the core of our humanity, existence, and identity.

Wants and Needs in a Relationship vs. Yearnings

It’s important to understand because there’s a difference between basic wants and needs in a relationship and yearnings. We often express what we think are our wants and needs, but when we get them met, we still feel unsatisfied, as though the larger issue still looms.

  • We can want our spouse to have sex with us more frequently.
  • We can want her to clean out the car when she uses it.
  • We can ask him to stop splashing toothpaste on the bathroom mirror.

When we express our wants, our partner often complies, but we may still feel annoyed. We feel like we’re nagging them or like we always have to tell them what we want. That’s a sure indication that we haven’t addressed the deeper yearnings behind our desires. A superficial action, like putting down the toilet seat or rinsing a dinner plate doesn’t really address the heart of the issue. We find ourselves running around mopping up water without fixing the broken pipe and addressing the source of the leak.


Real, true satisfaction and intimacy come from expressing our yearnings and understanding why they matter to us. This can happen in or out of a relationship. It’s about first doing the work to understand what’s going on inside our hearts and minds.


The great part is that when we identify our yearnings, we can find many different ways to get them met. It’s not just about relying on one person to do a specific action. We may yearn to connect with others, and we can do that by connecting with friends, coworkers, family, or our spouse.

If our partner simply complies with our expressed demand without understanding or learning our underlying yearning, the interaction might feel hollow or superficial. We aren’t getting those feelings of being acknowledged, appreciated, or loved. We’re simply training someone to pick up socks.

Our Yearnings Matter!

So, what about when we fight? We don’t really yearn to “win” the fight when it comes to fighting. Yes, we may want to express our point; we may think we want to win. But after we feel briefly superior and proud of our status as the “winner,” we might realize that we haven’t solved anything at all.

At the heart of many of our conflicts is fear (or the simple fact) that our yearnings aren’t being met and that we aren’t clearly expressing and requesting them from our partners. Yearning is at the core of our survival. Yearning to love and bond keeps mothers caring for their children. Yearning to be safe, sheltered, connected, and respected all have a biological imperative behind them. When our yearnings are met, we experience a rush of feel-good emotions and chemicals. When our yearnings are ignored, we experience a flood of fear, adrenalin, and stress hormones.

When we understand the neuroscience beneath our yearnings, we can quickly see why they’re so powerful and why they play such a strong role in our conflicts, especially with our partners—the people we rely on and trust.


When we feel frustrated about something our partner did, we can step back and ask ourselves, what is the underlying yearning? What do I really want from them? Is it that I want to be seen? Heard? Respected? Connected? When we identify those yearnings, we can try expressing them.


What would happen if we asked our partner for more physical contact? What if we explained why a clean house makes us feel more secure? What if we “went there” in conversation and brought our yearnings out into the light?

If we want to build stronger connections and get our yearnings met in our relationship, we must first identify them within ourselves. Then we can take steps to express our yearnings to our partner. Acknowledging our yearnings is the first battle, one we must wage within ourselves. As we come to a better understanding of what drives us, we can start expressing those wants and needs to our partners. Ultimately, when we say what we really want in our relationship, we’ll strengthen our bond and start getting closer.

For more ways to strengthen your relationships, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses to help you build stronger connections, discover more about yourself, and move towards the life you want—a life of more. Start getting what you want today!


About the Author

judith

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

When Couples Fight:
“You’re Just Like Your Dad”

 

How many of us have been told, “You’re just like your dad,” or maybe you’ve even directed something similar at your partner in a heated moment?


This common accusation comes into play in many discussions, arguments and fights. It tends to be at the root of many relationship contentions….and rightly so. Neuroscience tells us it turns out good ol’ Freud was right about a few things. Much of our personality and attitudes are programmed while we’re still with mom and dad, and some of it before we’re even aware or can even do anything about it.

We Get More Than Our Genes From Our Parents

Our underlying thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior patterns are formed in our infancy and early childhood. By age seven, this “program” is already running our interactions, making up the basis of who we are. It forms our emotional intelligence and shapes our understanding of social interactions. Who’s at the center of your social universe as a child? Your parents, of course!

We have many of our parents’ personality traits and we’re dealing with a lot of this baggage way before we ever meet our partner. It doesn’t make the words “you’re just like your family” any less cutting, however.

We may have identified things about our parents we resent or there may be expectations and disappointments we’re fighting against and trying to resolve.

We may be drawn to people who react to us in familiar ways and suddenly we find our spouse does something that triggers us in the same way our mother, sister or brother did. Instantly we become the defensive, hurt little kid once more or we find ourselves bending over backwards to please someone we perceive is withholding the approval we yearn for. You can see how this family business gets messy.

Take Charge of Your Emotions and Reactions

When you’re engaged in transformational work, you learn how to examine yourself so you can work to overcome limiting beliefs and take responsibility for your emotions and choices. You can stop reacting in the ways your parents showed you and you can move beyond the self-fulfilling prophecies.

Is it easy? No! Maybe your family swept things under the rug so well, you can’t even identify the lumps. (But I guarantee your partner will be able to—just ask.) Nobody’s perfect, even if you’ve put your parents up on a pedestal. Maybe you’re fighting against the limiting belief you can’t trust others because your trust was broken as a young child and in turn this causes you to act in untrustworthy ways as a defense.

We all bring things into the relationship and we need to move away from blaming our partner for any unhappiness we bring in. We all desire trust and we want to be accurately seen and heard in the here and now with positive regard, consistently and unconditionally. Our partner desires this too, just as our parents and grandparents before them yearned for it in their relationships.

The one truth about our family dynamics and our relationships with our parents is there’s no way to escape them. It’s something you have to face if you want to move forward and let go of things imprinted on your personality early in life. It definitely means you need to work on yourself and you need to engage with your partner. It may also mean you and your partner need to resolve some issues with your family members, especially as you introduce your partner to your family and grow together.

When we move into adulthood and let go of mother’s apron strings, we still bring with us the notions of intimacy and abandonment, as well as coping techniques and triggers into our closest relationships. Our partner does the same. Sometimes trying to understand where your partner’s coming from means you need to sit down with your parent-in-law or sibling-in-laws and say, “Hey, this is who I am and these things are important to me.” Get to know them, let them get to know you, and express your limits and feelings.

Chances are you won’t change those deep dark family behaviors, but you will gain an understanding of your spouse and how they react and interact in a relationship. You will then be able to work with them openly and honestly (and vice versa) as you identify what’s positive about your matrix and where your limiting beliefs lie.

Bringing Your Self to Each Relationship

From Jung, we learn about the shadow self. From Freud, the unconscious self. The root of our psyche is based in our past and comes largely from dear old mom and dad. By identifying the positives and the negatives, and examining it in a critical and clear light, you will both learn from them and overcome the limitations holding you back.

So the next time your partner says, “You’re just like your dad,” stop and hear what’s really being said. What’s the behavior you’re being called out on and why does it bother you? Start to do transformational work and the answer will become clear. We’re all a product of our parents, so the things we can learn from them and about them help us grow and move forward.

For more ways to regulate your emotions and become an expert at conflict resolution, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses geared to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. So don’t miss out on the life you want. Go for it now!


About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Literotica: 50 Shades of Grey

Ah…50 Shades of Grey…chick lit, literotica—books we all like to read (okay, maybe not on the train or in public), but we don’t always readily admit it.


Jokingly referred to as “literary porn” or “porn for women,” these page-turners might not be classical literature, but they’re entertaining and fun.

Taking a deeper look at the “why” behind why we’re drawn to these books (as well as chick flicks and sitcoms) brings up some interesting things about who we are, what we want, and what our secret yearnings are when it comes to relationships and dating.

Discussions about Christian Grey bring up some blushing and giggles even among friends, or at the very least, nervous laughter. These aren’t necessarily things we feel comfortable discussing even with our closest buds, because maybe we aren’t comfortable with the things we secretly want. There might be a little shame, some hang ups, or the feelings your desires aren’t “normal,” or maybe even that they go against your feminist ideals. There’s also a fear of rejection when we share a fantasy with a boyfriend or girlfriend. What if the person goes, “Wow, you’re a freak!” and heads for the hills? (Spoiler alert: if you’re engaged in open honest communication, they won’t.)

There’s a lot we can learn about ourselves from our admiration of this version of love, sex and romance. Sex without emotional attachment, potential hurts, disappointments and expectations can be an appealing prospect. In movies we see couples who seemingly never fight or “fight cute” and things always have a happy ending. In life this is rarely the case.

Similar to porn films, the idealized portrayal of sex in these films eschew messy emotional attachments, the yearnings of our heart, vulnerabilities, proclivities and our intellectual sides that can prohibit us from letting go sexually. There’s also a fear of facing boundaries and knowing the limits of our own allowances.

In the novel 50 Shades of Grey, the protagonist Christian Grey exudes confidence, success and alpha-male attitude. While some us may find the character off-putting on paper, we would have to admit many of the qualities he has are attractive. Success and confidence are universally appealing qualities. It’s no wonder many of us secretly swoon when we read about him.

So, how can we apply this to dating life?

Being clear about your yearnings and desires is certainly part of it. It may be difficult to talk about what you want with a first date, but as you become more comfortable with your partner, let them know what things you find appealing. Try things and be clear about what turns you on and what doesn’t do it for you. The worst that can happen is you have some awkward sexual moments, but you’ll ultimately end up with an even more satisfying life in the bedroom.

Talk with your partner about what turns you on and what turns them on, but don’t rely on idealized fictional relationships to be the marker of what your relationship should be. In literature we see superficial “romance” of flowers, chocolates and perfect couples. As we know, while romance is an important part of relationships, there are much deeper ways of connecting.

In fiction, we also see the concept of “The ONE” or a woman who can “tame” the wild alpha male. In reality, as we all know, there isn’t a perfect match out there or one person who can “fix” us or repair our broken heart. If someone’s holding back on intimacy or failing to engage, they need to do some internal work on their own (not meet the perfect dream girl). Holding the bar at this standard isn’t realistic. There’s nothing wrong with a fantasy as long as you realize it’s just that.

As we found out from our discussion on this topic, a lot of guys have a hard time figuring out how to navigate the world of fantasy vs. reality as well. While the “literotica” market may appeal to the ladies more than the men, the fantasy aspect’s the same as it can be in porn. It’s about making a correlation and a compromise between the things you see and read about, and the things that fit into your life and apply to your relationships—not using them as a substitute for real intimacy but as part of a healthy fantasy and sex life.

If you have open lines of communication and you’re being authentic, honest and engaging with your dates, you’re going to be discussing these yearnings and bringing them out in your relationship.

True relationships are about connecting and communicating. Fiction can be fun and a way to escape into a fantasy world, but keep yourself grounded in reality to maximize your happiness. Make sure you don’t fall into the realm of soft-addiction and too much escape into your fantasy life. Romantic books and movies should remain fun and entertaining and there’s no harm in a little of that!

You’ll be able to read all about these ideas and more in Dr. Bob and Judith’s Wright’s new book out now: The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer. (Available on Amazon now!)

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About the Author
Monica

Monica is the Admissions Coordinator and Marketing Specialist at the Wright Graduate University. As the admissions coordinator and head of marketing for WGU, Monica oversees recruiting, student admissions, customer services and marketing efforts.


Blog post image courtesy Flickr user jeepersmedia.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.