So in one of my posts I talk about the "5 A's." I thought I'd elaborate on this a bit. The concept of the Five A's comes from author David Richo.
The 5 A's are the needs that every child needs in order to develop a healthy sense of self (i.e., for healthy psychological development). These are the same needs that we look to meet (or to have met) in our romantic relationships as adults. The 5A's are:
5. Allowing (being allowed to pursue one's own interests and dreams)
I think this will probably make intuitive sense to most people -- who among us does not desire attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and/or allowing?
David Richo also points out that, "Behind every complaint is a wish for one of the five A's." In other words, when you find yourself complaining stop for a moment and ask yourself which of the 5 A's you want fulfilled at this particular moment. This is a way of being mindful. It enables you first and foremost to really understand what you want. Then it enables you (ideally) to meet this need for yourself.
Why don't I recommend asking your significant other to meet this need for you? Well, that's always a possibility but often the issue isn't that a significant other is not giving you enough of one of the 5 A's. Often, the issue is that we are trying to get another person to meet too many of our needs. This is an unfair burden to put on another person. In essence we are saying, "I depend on you to meet most of my needs. My happiness and emotional well-being depend on your ability to do this." Wow -- what a responsibility! According to Richo, we should only expect other people to meet 25% of our needs (i.e., we should be meeting our own need for the 5 A's about 75% of the time).