Inspiring Isn’t Always Effective

A few days ago, I posted a quote from Frida Kahlo (a world-renowned self-portrait painter, with multiple disabilities in the early 1900s and a role model for generations of artists) to her husband Diego.

“I’m not asking you to kiss me, nor apologize to me when I think you’re wrong. I won’t even ask you to hug me when I need it most. I don’t ask you to tell me how beautiful I am, even if it’s a lie, nor write me anything beautiful. I won’t even ask you to call me to tell me how your day went, nor tell me you miss me. I won’t ask you to thank me for everything I do for you, nor to care about me when my soul is down, and of course, I won’t ask you to support me in my decisions. I won’t even ask you to listen to me when I have a thousand stories to tell you. I won’t ask you to do anything, not even be by my side forever. Because if I have to ask you, I don’t want it anymore.”

I got a lot of likes and “nailed it” feedback from the post because it is incredibly empowering. But there’s also a huge problem with this empowering quote.

A good friend of mine shared Frida and Diego’s story:

Diego was a serial cheater.
Their relationship was passionate and full of fire.
He was 20 years her senior and had anger issues.
He was jealous of her work even though he was a much more famous painter at the time.
They divorced in 1939 but then remarried again one year later.
Their story was of one of both passion and heartbreak.

Frida consistently got from Diego what she asked for in that marriage. Nothing.

Ladies, when we ask for nothing, we get nothing.

  • When we pretend that we have no needs or that our needs are not important enough to be expressed…
  • When everyone else’s needs come before our own…
  • Or when we assume that “he should know what I need…”

We should be surprised when we will get what we need.

Quotes like these are inspiring and empowering, but they’re not terribly helpful in creating a relationship that feels happy, loving and connected – where both people feel valued and supported.

  • As women, we have to get better at checking-in with our own needs and honoring those needs (since we teach others how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves).
  • We need to be able to express what it is we need in our relationships (because men cannot read our minds).
  • And we need to get better at expressing our needs as desires he could meet rather than demands that he’s obligated to perform (it feels good to give when it is our choice; obligation and guilt feel like bondage).

Men never learned as boys that their needs were unimportant or that they should put everyone else’s needs before their own. I’m actually a little jealous of this.

Unlike girls who are taught from a very young age to be the nurturers and the caretakers. As they enter adulthood, they are told both directly and indirectly that a nice girl / good wife takes care of everyone else’s needs first. Sometimes we will give to the point of exhaustion and martyrdom.

Here’s the good news:

  • We can learn a different way of being.
  • We can honor our needs more consistently.
  • And we can communicate with our spouses about our needs in a way that invites him in rather than pushing him away.
  • We can even learn to show our daughters that when they grow up, get married and have kids themselves, that their needs and desires are still important.
  • And when we show-up like that, it can create massive change inside a marriage.

In the words of one of my client’s husbands last week: “Where has THIS woman been the last 20 years?

Want to turn your marriage around? Let’s schedule a complimentary Truth & Clarity session to see if there’s a fit for you and I to work together.