Help for couples facing relationship problems, including both the victims and perpetrators of spouse abuse. Share your story and your marital advise.

The Demanding Spouse

“She’s a demanding wife.”  Or, “He’s a demanding husband.”

We’ve heard these phrases, which are usually criticisms.  And while there are certainly over demanding husbands and wives, certainly there are also cases where spouse have legitimate desires and expectations that are being so ignored that a “demand” to give them attention is not only appropriate, but just.

So, what’s the difference between legitimate and illegitimate demands?

Before answering that, perhaps we might step back to the broader question of what it means to be a healthy and mature person.   If demands are arising from selfishness rather than maturity, there’s a obviously a greater chance that they are not legitimate.

Are You Surrounded by Mirrors, or Windows?

The best sales people know what motivates people.  In other words, they have a firm grasp of practical psychology.  So I wasn’t surprised to collect some very insightful notes form a lecture by Chet Holmes, at least some of which ended up in his book The Ultimate Sales Machine.

This article isn’t about sales.  But I want to give credit where credit is due.

His reflections began with a quote: “Maturity is when all of your mirrors turn into windows.”  It may have been uttered by Thoreau , or perhaps it’s just a variation of Pamela Frankau’s “There must come a time when . . . all your mirrors turn to windows.”

Holmes then observes that, “Most people live their lives surrounded by mirrors, focusing on themselves. They see their feelings, their needs. They think about how they come across to other people and whether or not they will get what they want…”

No one with this attitude will be a good salespersons, he argue.

I would add, no one with this attitude will be a good spouse.

A person who is self-focused is concerned about four things:

  • Their feelings
  • Their needs
  • How do people see them?
  • Will they get what they want

But a truly mature person is one who has grown past selfishness, replacing all the mirrors that surround them with windows that allow them to see other peoples feelings and needs.  And these have to be true windows, not partially mirrored ones where they are actually seeing their own images interposed on that of others.

Being other-focused means having concern for four different things:

  • Empathy for others’ feelings
  • Respect for others’ needs
  • How can I see them in the best light?  The least judgmental way?
  • How can I help this other person get what they want and need?

<< To be continued >>

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