In a perfect world, the ones we love would know instinctively how to love us in a way that meets our needs.
But you and I are not living in a perfect world.
Often our loved ones are trying to show us they love us in the best way they know how. The problem arises when it’s not in the way you and I are looking for it. So, instead of looking and not finding, you and I need to learn how to start asking.
To help start a conversation in which you both can learn more about each other, here are 7 ways to ask for the love you need:
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Before you ask someone for the love you need, take your situation to God to make sure you are asking for something the other person can realistically give. For example, if you crave love out of a deficit from what your parents never offered you, that isn’t something your partner can make up for, that is something God must first heal in your heart. If you crave the kind of love that will make you feel significant, valued, and worthy as a person, that is quite possibly a need only God can fill. Anyone else may find that task impossible.
Bring your situation to God first and ask Him to reveal to you if it is His love you need to receive and embrace first. As you and I grow in our love for God, we become convinced of who we are in His eyes and we will be able to receive love that someone else may already be trying to give. Knowing God loves you will also give you the confidence to ask another to love you and treat you as not only you desire, but as God desires.
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While love is something women crave and feel they cannot live without, men feel the same way about respect. Perhaps that’s why the Bible specifically commands husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25) and exhorts the wife to “see to it that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). Yet both a man and woman need to be respectful toward one another when discussing such a tender issue.
Be respectful toward your partner by making sure there isn’t a touch of sarcasm or accusation in your voice, which will only put the other on the defensive. Ephesians 4:29 is a helpful guideline while having this conversation: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Focus on building the other person up in your conversation and you will be respectful.
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It’s human nature to immediately assume we are doing something wrong when someone asks us for something we believe we are already giving. Chances are your partner believes he or she is already giving you the love you need. Therefore, avoid putting them on the defensive by making sure you frame your request in positive, affirming language.
Instead of starting with their remiss, start with your appreciation of who they are and what they are doing right. Ease into it and use sensitivity rather than sarcasm, and compassion rather than criticism or complaint. Instead of saying “You don’t make me priority anymore,” compliment your partner with the words, “I miss you. How can we start prioritizing our time together?” A sure way to be affirming in your request is to focus on a situation that both of you can work on, instead of presenting the issue as solely the other person’s problem.
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To ask for anything is humbling. Therefore, we can also not like the humbling position it puts us in, and we can end up asking resentfully or selfishly, without a thought of how the other person is receiving our request. Consider Philippians 2:3 as a rule in asking for the love you need: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
When you put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself ‘How would I receive it if he asked me this same thing in this same manner?” It may help you rethink how to address the situation. Use the words you would want to hear (or more specifically, the words you know your partner would want to hear). When we have our spouse or loved one in mind as we ask, we can more carefully address the topic without being accusative or worse, selfish. Ask what that person needs from you, as well, so it becomes a conversation rather than a one-sided demand.
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Ask wisely by taking into account the appropriate time, place and manner in which to have the discussion. Sometimes how and when you ask makes all the difference in the world. I learned early on, that if I’m addressing my husband with a concern of mine, I need to wait until after he has settled in at home, has changed into comfortable clothes and has filled his stomach. When he is relaxed and with no other pressing matters on his mind, then he can better receive what I am asking for. Be sensitive in terms of the timing and how you have this discussion.
God is your advocate when it comes to seeking wisdom in having this conversation. James 1:5 tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Ask God for that wisdom first and then apply it when you ask for the love you need.
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6. Sensibly, Calmly, and Rationally
When you ask for the love you need, it is easy to get overly-emotional. It’s difficult to sift through muddy, confusing emotions and try to describe how you feel. But if you start the discussion logically, rather than emotionally, and you will have a much better chance of being heard and respected.
The other person may claim he or she is already giving you the love that you need, so try to avoid expressing emotions such as anger, resentment, or sarcasm. It will only make a difficult subject more awkward.
Again, bathe your situation in prayer and choose an appropriate time to talk. If you are feeling emotional, angry, frustrated, or stressed about something, your emotions may get the best of you and bring out the worst in you.
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Be sure to be specific about your “need to feel loved.” If we limit our requests to vague phrases, our partners may have a difficult time understanding what we mean and what we really need. Tell your special someone specifically what will make you feel loved by him or her. And be patient if they are surprised by your request.
If your husband expresses his love to you by keeping gas in your car, making repairs around the house, and giving you a day to yourself when you need it, he may feel he is doing enough already. But if you need to hear him explain why he loves you with endearing words or provide tender touch to affirm that love, then ask him for those specific things.
Everyone has their own unique background, upbringing, in-grained habits, issues, reservations, and wounds that contribute to their love language. Your partner may think he or she is showing you love when you are not receiving it that way. Describe what love looks like to you in a tangible way, and spell it out carefully, creatively, and even visually so there is no misunderstanding. Give examples of what resonates with your heart and what doesn’t but do it in a loving way. This is also a great time to ask about what specifically translates love to them.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning author of more than a dozen books. She helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and with each other. She and her husband, Hugh, have been married 30 years and co-authored the book, When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection. Cindi has also written When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and her newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband. For more on her speaking, or resources to help strengthen your soul or relationships, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
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Originally published Wednesday, 07 August 2019.