Relationship Equality –

Here at O.A.M. we want everyone to feel comfortable learning a thing or two about themselves, their relationships, and their life. Recently, a few of you have submitted questions. We wanted to answer them appropriately  and contacted someone who we trust to give you the best advice.

We’d like to introduce to you our O.A.M. Relationship Consultant, Vanessa Lemminger M.A, Marriage and Family Therapist Intern 68894.

Our reader asked:

How do we communicate what we each need in our relationship in order to feel comfortable, feel loved, and feel confident. For example – I want to feel special, I want my boyfriend to go out of his way to send flowers, show affection etc. He  says he wants to do those things, but doesn’t. I have a feeling he thinks I sounds crazy for asking for those things – and he has made me feel crazy for doing so. What should we do?

Dear O.A.M.,

It seems as if your reader’s questions is focusing on two specific areas
of a relationship: the relationship contract and conflict resolution. There are many
different gestures in relationships that create feelings of comfort, love, and
confidence. For your reader, it seems as if gifts of flowers to show affection or other
romantic gestures are her way of feeling satisfied in her relationship. For others
there may be different expectations. These expectations are an important part of
what is called a relationship contract: what you expect out of your relationship, or
the stipulations for your engagement. Now, a relationship contract is not a written
document, signed by an attorney, but is instead an understanding about what both
couples are seeking through their relationship. When it comes to a relationship
contract, it is very important to be transparent and clear about what the
expectations are. This works for both partners. If your reader is expecting flowers
or sentimental gestures as part of her relationship to provide comfort and
confidence, then it is important for her to express this directly to her partner. In
turn, it is important for her partner to express to her if this is an expectation he is
able to uphold, along with other expectations he might have for the relationship.
Here is where the second ‘C’, conflict resolution, comes to play.

Once the expectations for your relationship are established, it is up to
the couple to resolve any conflicts that may arise from this contract. This involves a
consortium of negotiation, assertiveness, and compromise. It may be possible that
your reader’s partner is not fond of the idea of buying flowers. This may be part of
their relationship contract that they need to negotiate on. Maybe there is a
compromise they can make about when and how often he is expected to do these
types of gestures. Your reader and her partner may also find out there expectations
that they cannot compromise on. Are there any expectations that you are not
willing to let go of, and are there any expectations that you just cannot commit to?
It’s important for both partners to look at their relationship contract and decide
what is important, and what areas have room for compromise or negotiation. It is
especially important for couples to remember that relationships are about
compromise and sacrifice. There is not a lot of room for growth and satisfaction in a
relationship if neither partner is willing to budge. Lastly, relationship contracts
evolve over time. The needs of each partner may change, and down the road
different expectations may come into play. In order for the relationship to really
grow and feel satisfactory, a couple must be able to evolve with their contract,
adjusting when necessary.

Vanessa Lemminger M.A., IMF 68894
Marital and Family Therapy Registered Intern

VanessaLemmingerMatthew Bruhin & Associates
4452 Park Blvd, Suite 214
Office: 619-683-3774
Fax: 619-243-7211
Employed and supervised by Matthew Bruhin, Ph.D., Lic. MFC47460

About Vanessa Lemminger:

Vanessa Lemminger is a State of California Board of Behavioral Science Registered
Marriage and Family Therapy Intern (IMF #68894), with over 2,000 hours
of experience working with couples, families, and children. Vanessa is also a
member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Vanessa
Lemminger’s office is located in San Diego, California.

For more information, please visit her website at,
or contact her directly at You may also
subscribe to her blog at:


Birchler, G. R., Fals-Stewart, W., & O’Farrell, T. J. (2008). Couples Therapy for Alcoholism and Drug
Abuse. In A. S. Gurman (Ed.), Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy (pp. 528-529). New York, NY: The
Guilford Press.

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Categories: Insight with Vanessa, Ladies Confess, Lady Talk Forum


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4 Comments on “Relationship Equality –”

  1. August 29, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Reblogged this on Vanessa Lemminger, M.A., IMF 68894.


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