I Just Want to Feel Needed


If your marriage is going downhill because you don’t feel needed, maybe you can stop it.
Remember to Expect Love from your partner in marriage. In other words, don’t expect other things and thereby overlook the love you long for.
For example, some folks profess their love with words like “I cannot live without you.” And they mean it. Or they believe they do: death by broken heart is actually rather rare. But the important thing to remember here is that these are the words of someone who loves with words. The generous person who loves with gifts or the helpful person who loves by helping won’t feel loving saying such a thing, even if they feel they need you.
And they will stop doing their thing if it isn’t working because you are waiting for these words.
So, maybe you don’t want such over-the-top words. What you want is a little gratitude for all you do. This expectation is still a bit of premeditated resentment if gratitude is difficult for your spouse or if you two are locked in a competition to be the more helpful one. For you to feel needed, your spouse must feel needy, no? Maybe what he or she most needs is some relief from that feeling.
Maybe by now you’re yelling at me through your computer or smart phone. You don’t need the words. You don’t need a fancy thank you. What you need is some sign you are needed, some hint you are not disposable, some guarantee you are doing enough to prevent your husband or wife from walking out the door, some inkling that all the effort you are putting in will not be for naught.
And I feel for you. I’ve been there. It’s scary. It’s awful. It’s vulnerable.
And the only way out is to come, ever so slowly, to the realization that it is an impossible wish that is eating you alive.
No matter how great a husband or wife you are, there is no way to be good enough to guarantee your love will never be rejected. No way.
You must learn to love without this guarantee.
You are needed. Your money, your decorating savvy, your bug squashing, your laundry washing, your incredible sex moves may be needed. But the one thing you can be certain your spouse needs from you is your love.
And you cannot truly love while you are telling yourself you are not needed just because your mate has not announced you are.
Welcome to vulnerable, the place where the best marriages happen.

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.


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  • There’s a theme that runs through your posts and I’ve only just now put my finger on it. It’s “change.”When the dazzle feels elusive in a marriage, when inevitable conflict arises, Whenever expectations aren’t met, there’s this feeling that something needs to give, something needs to change.
    If you’re not open to change you freeze up. You stick to old habits, notions, and ideas. And nothing in your relationship changes.
    It’s a risk. It’s a risk to try changing your perception of your partner’s words and actions. You find yourself thinking, “What’s going to happen if I give up the notion that the only way I’ll know that my partner loves me is if, “insert long held ironclad notion here.”But if you can let go of those “long held ironclad notions” and allow yourself to see that your partner might have a different way of showing love, well, the chances are you’ll see them.
    We’re such creatures of habit. In my job I spent the past year or so working on the rollout team for the next operating system and productivity suite that my employer is going to deploy. I’m blind and use a screen reader, a program that makes my computer talk to me. My job, on the rollout team, was to hammer on the new system and break it as frequently as possible. Odd job description, but there we are. The idea was that I would make as many mistakes as possible so that the rollout team could address them and other employees who are blind wouldn’t have to go through what I went through. As a result I probably crashed my computers seven or eight times. At first, after each reimage of my computer, I’d set about making everything the way I wanted it. Then I thought, “What the heck, maybe I should try something different this time?” By going into it with the attitude that I was going to try different things I probably learned more about computers than I ever would have if I’d just stuck to doing things the same old same old way.
    Sorry to get geeky on everyone. But it was such a powerful lesson to me. A lot of times I felt lost and unsure of myself. But my computer and I came out of it both working a lot better.
    So next time your marriage or partnership are getting ready to crash, make yourself vulnerable, try something different.

  • Spot on, as always, Patty. And now Sue. This is a great night for reading indeed!
    You can never, ever be sure. You have to love anyway. What other option is there? I suppose you can stress yourself and your partner out, and then you’re in an even more precarious situation.

  • Nice comment from Sue. Very thorough and thoughtful. I agree. Guarantees are strongly desired, but simply do not exist or rather they are false. We tend to see life as static and sometimes deny inevitable change. Dangerous.

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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