Do you find it hard to ask for what you need from your partner?

If so, you are not alone. Many people find it challenging to communicate their wants and needs to their partner honestly and openly.

Many people find it challenging to communicate their wants and needs to their partner honestly and openly.

This can lead to frustration and resentment and a lack of intimacy and passion in the relationship.

In today's relationship tip, you will learn a powerful tool to ask for what you need from your partner openly and honestly.

Let's begin!

The DESC Model

While there are many ways of asking for what you need from your partner, the model I recommend the most is called the "DESC model".

The DESC model was developed in the 1970's by American communication experts Sharon and Gordon Bower.

The DESC model was developed in the 1970's by American communication experts Sharon and Gordon Bower.

The DESC model is a four-step model for communicating your wants and needs clearly and assertively with your partner. It is also helpful in expressing any message to another person clearly and non-abusively.

The first step in the DESC model is:

Step 1: Describe The Situation

When you are expressing your wants or needs to your partner, it is important to:

  • describe the situation that you want to talk about as clearly as you can
  • focus on the facts of this situation as you perceive them, and
  • try not to express opinions or judgements about this situation

Describing the situation you are concerned about is helpful as it:

  • helps your partner understand what you are talking about, and
  • avoids confusion and misunderstanding.

A simple way to describe the situation is to use the word "When".

A simple way to describe the situation is to use the word "When".

For example, if your partner often forgets to take the rubbish out on rubbish days, you might start your DESC statement by saying something like:

"When you forget to take out the rubbish on rubbish day..."

Once you have described the situation, you can proceed to the second step of the DESC model.

The second step of the DESC model is:

Step 2: Express Your Feelings About The Situation

Expressing how you feel about the situation helps your partner:

  • understand the significance of the situation for you, and
  • become aware of any deeper thoughts or feelings you have about this situation.

When you express how you feel about the situation, it is important to:

  • use feeling words, such as happy, sad, disappointed, let down, embarrassed and so forth
  • avoid using the phrase "I feel that" (as this means that same as "I think", and is not expressing a feeling), and
  • avoid expressing anger (as this encourages your partner to become defensive).

Instead, express the feelings that are "underneath" your anger (such as feeling hurt, let down, disappointed, etc.)

A simple way to express your feelings about a situation is to say "I feel" or "I felt".

A simple way to express your feelings about a situation is to say "I feel" or "I felt".

For example, in the situation above, you may continue to use the DESC model by saying:

"When you forget to take out the rubbish on rubbish day I feel let down and unimportant to you, as you know that means that I have to take the rubbish out myself."

Once you have expressed your feelings about the situation, you can proceed to the third step of the DESC model.

The third step in the DESC model is:

Step 3: Suggest What You Would Like To Happen

Suggesting what you would like to happen in a situation:

  • tells your partner what they can do to improve the situation
  • helps discussions move forward
  • stops arguments about what happened, who was right and so forth.

To suggest what you would like to happen, it is helpful to use the phrase "I would like it if…".

To suggest what you would like to happen, it is helpful to use the phrase "I would like it if…".

Continuing the example above, you may say something like:

"When you forget to take out the rubbish on rubbish day I feel let down and unimportant to you, as you know that means that I have to take the rubbish out myself. I would like it you started putting the rubbish out the night before it gets picked up."

Once you have suggested what you would like to happen in the situation, you can proceed to the final step of the DESC model.

The final step in the DESC model is:

Step 4: Give The Positive Consequences Of Your Suggestion

In this step, express to your partner the positive consequences (or benefits) of the option you suggested in step 3.

Stating the positive consequence of your preferred option:

  • tells your partner how they benefit from your preferred option
  • tells your partner how they gain from your suggestion, and
  • leads to win-win situations.

In many situations, it is easiest to state the positive consequences of your preferred option by saying "and then".

In many situations, it is easiest to state the positive consequences of your preferred option by saying "and then".

Completing the example above, you may say:

"When you forget to take out the rubbish on rubbish day I feel let down and unimportant to you, as you know that means that I have to take the rubbish out myself. I would like it you started putting the rubbish out the night before it gets picked up, and then I'd be much more relaxed on rubbish day. I might even get time to make you coffee!".

Notes:

Learning to express your wants and needs using the DESC Model leads to clear statements that your partner can consider.

It is important to note also that just because you express your wants or needs (even using the DESC model) does not compel your partner to agree with you or do what you are suggesting.

Instead, in healthy relationships both people should express their wants and needs while the other person practices active listening and listens to them. Once this process is completed, you still may not agree with each other.

In these cases, I suggest couples engage in the process of negotiation. I will describe a common negotiation process in a later relationship tip.

It is important to note also that just because you express your wants or needs (even using the DESC model) does not compel your partner to agree with you or do what you are suggesting.

Conclusion:

In today's relationship tip, you have learned

- what the DESC Model is, and

- the four steps of the DESC model.

The DESC Model is a simple but powerful way to ask for what you need in a relationship. Using the DESC Model helps discussions move forward and stops arguments about what happened, who was right, etc.

I hope today's relationship has been helpful for you!

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About The Author:

Alastair Duhs is a relationship expert who has helped over 10,000 couples create a happy, loving and passionate relationship over the last 30 years. He is also a keen triathlete, astronomer and chess player.