Chris WrightChris Wright is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. He sees clients in the Washington, D.C. area and has telephone clients from all over the world. He also has over 35 years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in human and organizational development across the U.S. and Canada. Chris was founder and director of the Human Relations Institute in Houston, Texas. He was also the Director of PAIRS International -- training psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in couple’s skills programs. As an innovator in the field, he has developed a unique blend of tools that increase the effectiveness in relationships -- for couples and in the workplace. He has Masters Degrees from the University of Arizona and Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Host: Is the problem our unmet needs or how we communicate our needs with our partner?
Chris Wright: In most cases, it's not our needs that are creating the problem as much as how we communicate our needs. There are many successful couples who are married to people that completely opposite, with a different personality and different needs and yet they are successful. The thing that determines it that how you communicate, how you deal with these pressures inside yourself and how you are responding your partner that s what generates the conflicts in the relationship. For example, let s say that in a marriage, I will use me as an example that at the beginning of the marriage it is was a joy, to try to meet your needs.
So, I would adjust my barb because I wanted to make you happy. So, it is my pleasure, there is a lot of goodwill in those days, but overtime I could feel the amount of pressure and tension associated with your needs and how you respond it and so those were the good old days because overtime you started to wear me down. I started to feel the sense that I wasn t doing that right. I mean you would say you know, no, no don t do it this way, no don t do it this way, no, no you are doing it wrong and it is like, wow! Again you have started to wear me down.
In my world, I thought I was doing fine and because I don t have that need, I don t have the level of discernment that you have, as to whether that it is done perfectly or done right. So, from my side I have always bar all the way up to here and I thought wow! That s really great I am putting a lot of effort into this and that she is really going to be happy and she is going to praise me, instead what I found out that you are condemning me and you are accusing me and you are making me wrong and I am being criticized. So, each time that happen I would contract inside, I mean I would look inside go, I don t get it, you know it hurt my feelings. And over a period of time, over period of maybe weeks or months or years, maybe I started to resent it, and started to erode the goodwill that I had to want to adjust my bar, to want to make you happy.
The same thing happened to you, I mean at the beginning you were innocent as well and that you would share these needs and it was fine but overtime you started to feel frustrated that why wasn t I responding, I mean you already communicated to me. Do I not care about you and so it's started to hurt your feelings as well and you started to get frustrated and it started to erode your goodwill. That s the real problem when it erodes your goodwill. That s a big problem because goodwill is huge, goodwill is the currency that allows me to adjust my bar and be flexible and want to please each other and when you started losing your goodwill, boy you started pulling a way, you started feeling emotionally distant, you know, it feels so connected. You are started thinking at your own needs and not our needs, so it becomes real problem.
So, again the focus is on how you communicate these needs to each other and how I respond to your needs, that would determines the success of this relationship and whether our needs are responded to unmet or whether they were not.