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!

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.

How To Break the Rules,
Be Your Own Hero
& Ask for What You Want

I want to start making positive changes in my life and find a greater sense of purpose…is there an app for THAT?

Ready to start making positive changes in your life? Start by learning how to break the rules, be your own hero and ask for what you want. Time to LIVE.


Remember those iPhone commercials a few years back? If you want to check the weather…there’s an app for that. If you want to find a restaurant…there’s an app for that. The list of life’s conundrums resolved with an app was lengthy.

Well, do you ever wish there was an “app” for personal transformation and growth?

Wouldn’t that be great?!

Now, I’m not necessarily talking about these so-called brain-training apps that promise to push your brain to become sharper and faster by playing Tetris on your phone. The jury is out on whether or not they’re effective at all in the long term.

There ARE sophisticated computer programs, rubrics, tests and activities to help you stimulate your brain’s neuropathways, explore your metacognition and get deep into the inner workings of your mind. Through brainwork, hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis and transcendental meditation, we can discover greater paths toward enlightenment and understanding.

However, these great tools for making positive changes can’t be bought at the app store. It turns out, it’s going to take a little more work than that.

Where Do We Begin…?

You know when you see a great movie? Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or even The Wizard of Oz… What is it about the hero’s journey we love to watch?

It’s that the answer is always within our hero.

Luke was a Jedi all along.

The power to destroy The One Ring was always only Frodo’s.

Dorothy could go back home any time she wanted.

Well, just like these heroes, we’re on our own adventure. We’re on our own hero’s journey. We’re trying to get those answers and tools for making positive changes from within ourselves. We certainly don’t need an app.

The Secret to LONG-TERM Positive Change

I learned to play the trombone many years ago. It’s simple: you hold your lips together to create a buzzing noise. Then, depending on the way you blow, you’ll create a higher or lower pitch.

If I handed you a trombone right now, do you think you could play based on my explanation? What if I had you watch a YouTube tutorial on how to play for a few minutes? Do you think you could play the trombone then?

The thought of playing an instrument with so little practice or experience seems silly, right? Laughable, even!

So WHY do we embrace the same mindset when it comes to making positive changes, huge life transitions and personal transformations?? We attend ONE weekend seminar, take a class or listen to a TED Talk, and we’re told it’s going to “change our life,” right?

When you understand how the brain works and what it takes to build new, lasting neural pathways, you realize that there is no such thing as a quick fix—and anything that offers one is misguided at best and fraudulent at worst. The odds are you’ve taken a class, been to a workshop, or experienced some other type of learning situation that provided useful ideas about how to transform your life, or some aspect of it. You’ve spent a few hours or perhaps a few days absorbing theories and exercises that struck you as valuable or maybe even epiphany-producing.

You’ve learned a lot about yourself what you need to do to change, and you’re excited about putting this learning to work. Unfortunately, it’s one thing to learn a valuable lesson; it’s something else to put it into practice.

–  Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

When we work with students at the Wright Graduate University, one of the tools we ask them to adopt is called the Assignment Way of Living. This may sound strange, but it’s important as they start to view their life as an adventure — as they begin to view their journey as a hero’s journey.

Heroes go on quests. They go on missions or “assignments,” right? Well, when we view our own life as an adventure, we start to adopt the assignment way of living. We start to see through the “rules” and limits we’ve imposed on ourselves. We start to find ways to break free from those limits.

These rules (like, “I shouldn’t ask for help because I’ll look stupid” or “I shouldn’t speak up because people will think I’m pushy”) are meant to be broken! Students adopt the assignment way of living to break these “rules” that reinforce their own negative beliefs and doubts. So break the rules!

These “rules” are our limiting beliefs. The same limiting beliefs that prevent us from making positive changes, and really truly getting not only what we really want, but what we yearn for deep down as human beings.

Just like any new habit or assignment, we must practice over and over. Asking for what we want is as foreign to many of us as playing the trombone. We can watch a seminar or read a book, but without deliberate practice we will never truly learn how to get what we yearn for.

Start Making Positive Changes By ASKING for What You Want!

For those who aren’t used to asking and who are living under the iron curtain of these self-imposed rules, asking for our needs to be met seems very strange and uncomfortable. So, what are our students to do?

Ask for everything!

During this week of of Year of Transformation, our students are told to go out and ask for everything they think of. Ask someone if they would hail a cab for you. Ask someone if they mind giving you the time. When your spouse isn’t paying attention to you, ask them for it!

Judith and I took years to come to an understanding about asking—a story she’s fond of sharing with our students. See, I tend to be a squeakier wheel than Judith when it comes to getting what I need. I also get absorbed in my work, reading or whatever I’m doing from time to time.

Judith would ask me a question and oftentimes I wouldn’t register I heard her or I would be so absorbed in what I was doing, I would fail to respond. Her yearnings to be seen, heard and acknowledged weren’t being met. So, she would feel hurt and ignored. She would feel frustrated with me and I wouldn’t even realize what had happened.

We had a paradigm shift when she said, “I just need you to tell me you heard me.”

Ah-ha! It was that simple. Once she asked for me to acknowledge her, I realized acknowledging her was all I needed to do to meet her yearning. If I said, “I hear you. I’m finishing this and I’ll be with you in five minutes,” suddenly everything changed. She no longer felt ignored. Her yearnings were being met!

When we ask for what we want and need, it shifts our dynamic with others. Here’s what one of our graduate students reported after a few days of asking:

What fun it is to ask for things! It’s also been very interesting to note all the tiny little asks such as my wife to massage my legs and aching feet, bring me a cup of tea or coffee, or make a certain dish for dinner. I’ve asked people I haven’t spoken to in years to see if they’d have a lunch or dinner with me. I’ve also asked others to help me win new business–and it works!


It’s amazing how many of us are right at the cusp of getting the what we want and need, and all we need to do is learn to ask! Asking is one of our most powerful tools when it comes to making positive changes and like every great hero, the ability to ask for what we need is already within us. We simply need to learn how to ask and practice regularly.

Be the hero of your own adventure! Learn more about your yearnings and finding your inner hero by joining us for an upcoming MORE Life Training. Bring out your best and discover what’s possible!

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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.

Post photo by Heng Films on Unsplash.

Why Couples Fight
About Money Problems

What’s one of the most common couples’ arguments? You guessed it: money problems. We call it “dueling over dollars.”


These financial feuds range from, “You’re such a tightwad!” to “What were you thinking? We can’t afford that!” When we mix money and relationships, it can seem hard to get on the same financial page as our partner.

(We discuss this and 14 other common couples’ fights in our book, The Heart of the Fight—available now.)

Why Couples Fight About Money: It Runs Deep

What are the real reasons we fight about money? Some of us have a fear there will never be enough. This scarcity mentality can cause us to be tightfisted with our budget. Perhaps you often witnessed your mother or father struggle to pay the bills, so this concept of ‘never having enough’ was deeply ingrained into you from the time you were a child.

On the other hand, maybe money came easy to you, so you never had to worry about it. Consequently, you still don’t sweat it much (but your partner does, much to your frustration). Or perhaps spending money and shopping is a soft addiction you use to self-soothe and zone out rather than deal with problems. I’ve seen couples where one member is so driven to spend money that he or she attempts to completely hide it from their partner, even going as far as to intercept credit card statements (indicating a larger communication problem).

Whatever your views on money, it goes much deeper than simply enjoying shopping or being fiscally conservative. Our “dueling over dollars” (like many common couples fights) is tied into our yearnings. Perhaps you yearn to be socially affirmed, so you want to “keep up with the Joneses,” or perhaps you’re yearning to be appreciated. Perhaps you yearn for a sense of security and stability.

Our yearnings stem from our early primal instinct to always be sure we have enough and our fear of scarcity. Because money is attached to our very survival and our ability to acquire food, shelter, and even a mate, these primal impulses take over, sending off major alarms in our brain, which can cause some real knock-down-drag-out fights.

Couples Fighting: A Lack of Honesty and Trust = Serious Symptoms

One of the common undercurrents of financial feuds is the sense that one partner isn’t being completely honest with the other. If your spouse withdraws money from your account or hides purchases from you, there’s definitely deception going on. Similarly, if you find out your spouse is complaining about how broke you are, but your bank account is flush, you might feel they’re withholding information or vying for control.

At the true heart of these financial miscommunications is a lack of trust. It has nothing to do with a few dollars spent or unspent, and it can’t be resolved with a half-hearted promise to “do better next time.”

We call these broken promises “deception perception” fights. These can be extremely painful fights, but to really understand the conflict, the couple must drill down to the heart of the matter and realize what they’re really, truly fighting about.

After these areas of insecurity, distrust, and deception are unveiled, it can be very healing for couples to address the core of the problem. While deception and broken promises are painful to discuss and discover, they can open up the pathway to greater understanding and communication in the future.

Understanding & Identifying Our Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs are formed when we’re very young. The majority of our personality is actually formed by age 6 or 7. These early beliefs are often based on our limited perceptions as children. We’re not able to discern that Dad’s anger had to do with a rough day at the office or that Mom’s stress wasn’t directed at us. As children, we’re the center of our own universe. Each experience comes in, gets processed, and forms the basis of our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

As we get older, we add in societal beliefs and practices, plus the way we perceive our role within our social circle. Cumulatively, these experiences add up to our core beliefs, which can also be limiting beliefs. For example, when we feel we need to hold ourselves back or suppress our emotions, a limiting core belief might be the root. Fear of taking risks can stem from a belief of inadequacy, or a belief that we’re “not enough” or “too much.”

Similarly, fears about money often stem from a belief that the world is a place of scarcity and there is not enough to go around. If you didn’t have enough food, your needs weren’t met, or you didn’t feel secure in your living arrangements during childhood, you might carry those feelings over to today, even if reality dictates these beliefs aren’t true. With a healthy and full bank account, you may still have a scarcity mentality.

The Real Reason Why Couples Fight About Money Problems

We’re inherently drawn to those who trigger our core beliefs. Relationships are the crucible with which we are formed into a more complete person. During the transformation process, we’re forced to face some of these inner conflicts and beliefs, which manifest themselves in our interactions with our partner.

The great thing about conflict is how it forces us to really examine ourselves. Productive, meaty, hands-on conflict engages us. It forces us to look deep into our own abyss and understand where our beliefs come from and why. Living a full, engaged life means having a partner who brings out these conflicts and is a great sparring partner.

We can bounce our beliefs off our partner and wrestle with them to find our truths. This struggle and constant provocation is actually how we grow and evolve. If our partner doesn’t challenge us, we become stagnant and stop developing. We often choose a partner because they’re able to help us complete our unfinished growth and development, so we can find out who we can truly become.

So the next time you find yourself dueling over dollars (or engaged in any conflict), take a step back to examine your yearnings and core beliefs. It’s never just as simple as wanting a balanced checkbook. The conflict may be born from a desire to be acknowledged or to feel safe and cared for. It might stem from our belief that we don’t have enough or that our needs aren’t being met. Uncovering the deeper core to our conflicts is exciting because it’s the way growth is launched—it opens the path so the real work can begin!

To find out more about strengthening your relationship and unlocking your personal power, please join us for our next More Life Training. Visit to learn more about this opportunity and others. Email us at if you have a question or if you’d like us to address a specific topic during our Wright Living weekly podcast. Let us know how you’re finding your own happiness!

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Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user 76657755@N04.

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.



The Power of Liking and Agreeing

Have you ever noticed how much power there is in expressing what you like and agree with?

The Power of Liking
Your word has power because you are declaring a position and making a commitment. A “like”—something you like or are agreeable to—suggests that you have a desire, a passion. You feel attracted to or take pleasure in something or someone and your “like” impacts that thing or person.

For example, when you tell a coworker or friend that you like what they are doing, they are more likely to do it again. Your desire, expressed through your agreement, has encouraged them to continue their behavior or way of being. On many levels, our likes create momentum in the direction we desire.

True liking reflects our deepest yearning—what nourishes and fulfills us—our yearning to be seento be heardto be affirmed.

What do we really like?
We have to be careful about what we say we don’t like, because often those reflect activities or behaviors that are not familiar to us, that we really don’t have experience with, or that are unfamiliar or strange to us. To really know what we like, we need to experiment even more to see how things truly affect us, rather than deciding ahead of time. And, perhaps if we experimented, we might actually like it!

The Power of Agreeing
Our agreements also hold great power. When we agree, it suggests harmony of opinion, action, or character. We strengthen the position of or increase the value of whatever we agree with. A recent study by UK and Danish neuroscientists has shown that the brain’s pleasure centers light up when we are agreed with. We often influence an outcome simply by aligning to it.

Your agreement not only promotes a statement or concept but also reflects a position or a stand that you are taking. And agreements do not always need to be spoken. Our silent agreement can be just as powerful (sometimes more powerful) than our spoken words.


Your Weekly Assignment

Discover the power of liking and agreeing. Experiment and develop more clearly-defined preferences by agreeing in your business meetings and with your family. Let people know your likes and agreements. Show people what you like and what you agree with by using words like, “I like…” and “I agree with…”

Learn to express your preferences with employees, coworkers, family, and friends. Like and agree with things that are good for you, serve you, empower you, and fulfill you. You will be surprised at how you can reinforce movement, activities, people, and directions just by sharing what you like and agree with.

Wishing you a spectacular week,

Learn more about Wright Living’s Life Coaching in Chicago, Self Development Courses, and Relationship Courses.