Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise; fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.
Proverbs 15:2

If you want to improve communication in your marriage, you’re probably thinking you need a new technique or strategy.

We get that.

But we also believe that for truly great conversations you have to understand each other’s hardwiring. You’ve got to understand what makes each of you feel emotionally safe.

Seldom if ever does someone say, “I feel unsafe and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing in this relationship.” Still, this fear of being at personal risk, of feeling unsafe, is lurking underneath nearly all of our conversations.

When our fear of losing what we deeply value increases, so does our insecurity, and that’s when our conversations get twisted. For this very reason, we want to help you pinpoint what makes you feel most safe.

So allow us to pose a very simple multiple choice question. To get any meaning out of this question, however, we want you to answer it from deep inside. Think it over. Be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t answer with what you think sounds best. Answer with what you know is really true. Here’s the question: Of the following choices, what makes you feel most emotionally safe?

  • Gaining control of your time.
  • Winning approval from others.
  • Maintaining loyalty.
  • Achieving quality standards.

If you had to choose one of these as your top emotional safety need, which would it be? Instead of choosing just one, you may prefer to rank the list of safety needs from strongest to weakest. That’s fine. The point is to identify what gives you the greatest sense of emotional security.

And if you are wondering why we are having you choose from among this specific list of safety needs, we have good reason. For nearly a century, these four fundamental needs have been consistently identified through research as the best predictors of human interaction.

Reflect and Respond

So which safety needs top your list? How about your partner’s?

Go ahead, tell us in the comments.

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