Matt and Susi Lundquist, Campus Ambassadors
Some Thoughts I’d Like to Share
What about my needs? (part 5)
Susi and I spent a lot of time in the early years discussing the difference between needs & wants. I used to think that air conditioning was more of a luxury in a car. That has changed over the years. One key to our economic success was that we kept the “needs” category to a lean minimum. We needed to know just what we could live without, what was optional, in order to live within our means and keep to a workable budget.
Identifying the emotional needs in our relationship hasn’t been easy. Distinguishing needs from wants or desires is even more difficult. The reality is, after 20-30 years of not getting what you want, you may decide it was really something you needed. I used to believe that relationships that hung in there that long were sure to last. But things can fall apart without a plan and some progress. If you keep thinking that things will get better, but there’s no honest sharing of wants and needs, it’s not going to happen.
Learning to negotiate in this emotional area is much like the “budget sessions” we used to have. Having a way to get your needs met and at least some of what you want is essential for making a relationship work over the long haul.
For a sustainable relationship what you really need is someone who cares about what you want. Our needs change as we become more aware of what we want. Things that you thought you could live without turn out to be essential to your health and well being. And I’m not just talking about air conditioning.
I have observed a few basic needs that we ignore at our own peril: safety, security & self-determination.
- Safety doesn’t refer only to being safe from physical harm. Feeling attacked and emotionally overwhelmed can also cause fear and trigger “fight or flight” reactions. When we are with someone we are close to, we may leave ourselves unguarded. When this happens it is important for the person who knows us well to protect this vulnerability.
- Security is only partly supplied by financial provision and the meeting of material needs. On a deeper level the one who meets these needs is showing that they can be trusted to meet other needs as well. I bring my wife coffee every morning as one way of demonstrating that I am aware of her needs and motivated to meet them wherever I am able.
- Self-determination is a tougher nut to crack. None of us is completely independent. And as I’ve pointed out, a committed relationship means that two people have learned they can depend on each other. So they willingly relinquish a degree of control over their own lives. But a total inability to control your own destiny is unlivable. The happy medium seems to be a healthy interdependence, where each one can fulfill their intentions of what they are actively choosing. This is what I mean by self-determination.
Much like the “workable budget” we develop for our finances, we must continually negotiate and plan for emotional expenditures. This means becoming aware of my wants and needs so I can bring them to the table. It also involves an awareness of the limited resources available to meet them. That’s a tall order! Stewardship of emotional energy will be the focus of the next newsletter.