How We Anticipate Each Other’s Needs

Marriage isn’t always 50/50. In fact, in our marriage, there are times one partner is pulling the entire load.  Penn and I wrote a whole book about the marriage lessons we’ve learned through counseling and doing life together for the past 16 years. But you’ll have to indulge me as I make the world’s biggest understatement: In a marriage, you’re always growing and we are still learning so much about each other. 

One of the catchphrases of our marriage has been, “Mature people ask for what they want.” From serious topics to where we are going to order takeout on Friday, we yell from across the room, “MATURE PEOPLE ASK FOR WHAT THEY WANT.” We realize we can’t read each other’s minds. Trusting your partner enough to make the (at times) awkward ask is a big freaking deal. But what happens when you don’t even know what you want or need at the moment?

You Know Your Person 

The last few weeks have been tough for our family. On top of the “normal” family struggles that bubble up in every house, my grandmother’s health took a sharp decline. She and I were very close and I had the opportunity to make trips to see her in her final days. The travel, mixed with grief, and all the other things life wanted to present in the past few weeks — left my mind and heart capable of very little else. 

So Penn started using this phrase and pairing it with thoughtful action: “I’m anticipating your needs…” then he would do the thing that I needed. Let’s face it, you know your person better than anyone. You know what would help them feel supported. It takes some knowledge and a little effort, but dang, it’s a game-changer. 

After a visit with my grandmother, he said, “I’m anticipating your needs. I ordered sushi and I have a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge. If you want me to sit next to you while you sit in silence, I’m here.” He knew I wanted him nearby, but didn’t have the energy or the words. So we sat in silence and ate sushi. It was the exact support I needed at that time. 

Removing The Obstacles 

After a particularly long day of conference calls, he could tell I was zapped. He said, “I’m anticipating your needs. You’ve had a very people-y day. I’m handling the afternoon/evening school sports driving. You can sit here and stare at TikTok.”

Make no mistake. This isn’t “mansplaining” self-care. It’s the opposite. He’s aware of what I need, and he’s removing any obstacle (my inability to make decisions, for example) from the equation. I’ll admit. This “anticipating your needs” language has been very one-sided lately.  

But that’s a true partnership, right? Soon, Penn will be the one that needs support and I promise to pull my weight. Until then, I’m sitting here pretty thankful I have a person who knows me well enough to know what I need before I do. 

We talk all about this on today’s podcast (even though we go a little off the rails.) Happy listening, tell us how you help anticipate your partners needs!


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