Relationship Fitness

S15: Ten Communication Topics E9: What Changes Do You Want?

In “Relationship Workout for Men,” Season 15 Episode 9 titled “What Changes Do You Want?”, Vince explores the pivotal communication topic of expressing and understanding each partner’s needs and desires within a relationship. He underscores the significance of discussing needs, wants, desires, and even fantasies from a grounded, present perspective. Through practical examples, Vince illustrates how clear communication about simple desires, like a favorite type of birthday cake, and expressions of gratitude can profoundly impact relationship dynamics. He also introduces Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a framework to understand deeper emotional needs, demonstrating how unresolved issues might signal deeper desires for love, belonging, or respect. This episode guides listeners on the importance of safe and honest conversations about changes and expectations, paving the way for mutual understanding and fulfillment in relationships.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 15 Episode 9: What Changes Do You Want?

In this episode, we explore “What to Talk About” Topic #9: How Would You Like Things to be Different?

In this topic, you both need to express your needs, wants, desires and even fantasies from a place of the present moment looking forward.

Going back to our example, expressing her needs could be as simple as her describing the exact type of chocolate cake she would like for him to get for her going forward, and him agreeing to follow the description exactly. If he’s smart, he will even record the description in a place where he can easily retrieve it come her next birthday.

Likewise, for him, it could be her expressing gratitude for his effort, which could result in her giving him a thank-you card or special massage.

That said, when there’s a lot of emotional urgency wrapped around an issue, it could mean the need goes much deeper. If you discover a similar issue keeps repeating itself, this is where a therapist can help.

But another way to look at this is through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which are organized in the shape of a pyramid with five levels of need. The theory goes that you must satisfy needs of a certain level before proceeding to the next highest level. 

You can see the diagram at RelationshipWorkout.com/resources under Core #12 Communications.

  • At the bottom of the pyramid are our Physiological needs, which includes breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, and pooping.

Physiological Needs are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for satisfaction. Raw sex is also included as part of these most basic, underlying needs.

  • The next level up in the pyramid includes our needs around safety and security, which includes security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, and property.

Describing this level a bit more, when all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling our thoughts and behaviors, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children, on the other hand, often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe. 

That said, being part of a strong relationship can help us to feel safer.

  • The next level up in the pyramid includes our love and belonging needs, which include friendship, family, sexual intimacy and sense of connection.

When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belonging can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection, and the sense of belonging. 

A strong relationship helps to keep the chemistry between two people strong, fueling the deepening of their sexual intimacy.

  • The next level up in the pyramid includes our esteem needs, which include self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others.

When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are not satisfied, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless, and worthless. 

A strong relationship results in treating each other with compassionate respect versus judgmental contempt.

  • And at the top of pyramid, we have self-actualization needs, which includes morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts.

Describing this level a bit more, when all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” These needs make themselves known in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something — in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved, not accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it can be fairly easy to know what the person is restless about. On the other hand, it is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.

Going back to our example for instance, at a deeper level, she may have a need for love and belonging. She feels more loved if the man she loves knows little intimate details about her like what her favorite cake is and that she hates surprises.

For him, he may have a need to feel respected. What he wants is for her to treat him with respect and not hostility, even if he makes a royal mistake that leads her to feeling extremely disappointed. 

When people get angry and/or feel extremely anxious, they can often become hostile (either passively or aggressively) and can be seen as being very disrespectful. This can create a parallel issue to the one already on the table, one of not being shown respect.

In addition, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs also shows why a person’s triggered Demons can highly influence a person’s needs. A triggered Demon brings up a past pain and makes the person feel unsafe (unsafe like the time when the original wound was created). Safety is a common bottom of the pyramid need. 

It’s also important to realize that barriers to expressing needs can get built if there’s a fear the other person will respond to honesty with conflict and resistance. It goes back to the need to feel safe. And it doesn’t feel safe for honest sharing to be met with hostility.

And one last point, you may not really know how you’d like things to go differently until you’ve both talked about it for a while. This is another reason why it’s a good thing to help your partner feel safe in this exploration, always remembering you’re on the same team.

Okay, so that wraps our “What to Talk About” Topic #9: How Would You Like Things to be Different?

In the next episode, we explore the final “What to Talk About” Topic #10: How Is It Going?

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