It’s important that we learn to ask cleanly because it brings respect and kindness to our marriage.
Whether you need help with the papers that pile up on the kitchen counter, or you want to try a new move in bed, how do you ask clearly? You want to be courteous to your sweetheart without sacrificing what you truly want.
In this series we’ll discuss how your crystal-clear ask isn’t as clear as you think, what happens when you fail to ask, and how to take responsibility for what you want.
You think you’re asking clearly
A clear ask is vulnerable, so we don’t want to do it. Rejection—or the fear of it—is one of the biggest reasons we don’t ask cleanly. We protect ourselves and hide rather than ask with clarity.
Let’s take a look at an example: Instead of asking, “Would you be ready to buy a house with me?” you say, “Housing prices are dropping around here.” Because you fear the rejection of “no,” you protect yourself by hinting instead of asking clearly.
But your sweetheart can hear “Housing prices are dropping around here,” many ways: Are you reporting the news? Sounding an alarm about potential economic disaster?
Your sweetheart doesn’t know you’ve just opened your heart wide and said you want to invest in a future together.
Your sweetheart, who has no idea you are suggesting this bold move into the future together, starts to reassure you that your job is secure and there’s nothing to worry about.
You are crushed. You just made a bold gesture and now you’re getting the minimizing brushoff. You feel the sweat of rejection dampen your underarms.
Hurt, you turn and leave the room. Your sweetheart has no idea what just happened, tosses up their hands and says, “What? What just happened?”
Isn’t it ironic that your intention—to avoid rejection—causes you to be coy about the thing you most want? But it is that same coy vagueness that causes your sweetheart to completely misunderstand the gravity of your statement and reject you.
Naïve misunderstandings like this one happen all the time in marriage.
Unclarified misunderstandings turn into wounds: You don’t want to invest in a future with me. Walls go up: I say the simplest thing and you’re mad. You feel the need to protect yourself, and the intimacy you crave feels further away than ever.
- Avoid indirect communication. Speaking in the royal “we” is a great way of being indirect. It also has the benefit of giving yourself credit for a job you’re asking your sweetheart to do. “Could we get the trash out?”
- Instead, be direct. “Could you make it your job to take out the trash?” The respectful request gives your sweetheart full credit for the job and for doing something you want.
Think of a recent time you asked your sweetheart for something. Were you direct? How could you be even more direct next time?
Want more on this topic? Next time we’ll talk about what happens if you don’t ask for what you want. Sign up for my FREE COURSE below to receive all 4 installments of “Ask Cleanly” (and be sure to check out my other essays on Improving Your Marriage Communication).
If this exercise helped you, please forward it to a friend.