Knowing What I Need

There was a time when I expected Beloved to know what I needed and to provide it.

There were multiple problems with that approach. First, I’ve come to learn that expectations are the cause of much suffering. When I reduce my expectations, most of my suffering and disappointments simply vanish! It is amazingly simple, but not always easy to remember to do it.

Another BIG problem with expecting Beloved to know what I needed and to provide it is that I DIDN”T REALLY KNOW WHAT I NEEDED.


So how in the world was she supposed to know and give it to me?

I eventually realized that I had a problem. I sat down that day and really thought about what was absolutely critical to me and what was merely preferred.

That was much harder than I thought it would be. It took a quite a while to truly understand that which I could not be happy without.

As it turns out, the list was remarkably short. For example, I learned that while I needed some inviolable “Man Space” I really didn’t much care what color the house was painted, what furniture we got, how the yard was landscaped (except my small redwood grove and fern garden), etc.

I was happy to let Beloved decide on all those other things if she wanted to—-and she WAS happy to do so. I realized that I was happy to let her make the call on probably 95% of all things and all decisions if she wanted. I was running a business and had to make decisions all day so it was nice to have someone who handled most of the decisions at home.

I also quickly realized that while my list of critical needs was very short I would not be happy unless all of them were met.

It wasn’t about what Beloved or anyone else would do or not do, but whether my needs were being met.

I began to understand that all but one of my critical needs were being met, but the one that wasn’t would be terribly corrosive to my happiness and to our marriage. I was faced with a difficult choice and knew that that my marriage was at stake. But I knew that if I wasn’t happy it would only be a matter of time before Beloved would be unhappy too and our marriage would likely fail.

So I told Beloved about the critical need was not being met said that I was happy with our marriage in all other ways, and that strongly preferred to stay married to her, but felt I only had three options at that point. I outlined the three options and she agreed that they were the only ones I had.

I gave to her the choice as to which option she’d prefer, as each would have a major impact on our relationship and on her.

She made a choice and a commitment, which she has kept ever since.

I’m very grateful to her for both her choice and her commitment.

I’ve been happy with our marriage ever since, and we’ll have been married 33 years on October 6th.

About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Choices, Family "Fun", Growth/Learning, LIfe Lessons, Love, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Knowing What I Need

  1. Congratulations to both of you! What commitment and dedication!

  2. boomiebol says:

    You both are an inspiration and a fine testament to marriage

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Boomie. It was important to me that Beloved wasn’t perceived as “the bad guy” in my post–because she certainly wasn’t in my mind at the time or now–and based on your comment and those of the other two who have commented so far, you all “get” the message I was attempting to convey about her huge part in making it such a great marriage.


  3. Cathy Ulrich says:

    You had the courage to speak your truth and not let it fester…I think when we can be open and honest about our needs, those that we love are able to help us achieve them. And yes, expectations can be a major obstacle to happiness…Hugs, Cathy

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