Communication Lesson Learned from Diapers

When our daughter Natalie was a baby and she had a dirty diaper, my husband Ed would ask, “Do you want me to change her diaper?”

After saying, “Yes, please” to this question a couple of times, I finally said, “Whenever you ask me if I want you to change a diaper, the answer will always be yes, so please just go ahead and change the diaper—there is no need to ask me if I want you to change it.”

From that day forward, Ed changed her diaper when he noticed it needed changing without asking me if I wanted him to.

This seems like such a minor thing, but it has stuck with me to this day. I often recount this story when talking with friends communication in a successful marriage.

This is the key lesson I learned from this experience:

Ask for what you want.

Seems pretty simple. Tell someone what you want, and they do it. I will always want you to change a dirty diaper—so do not even ask. Just do it.

Why, then, is asking for what we want so hard sometimes?

Why do we feel like people should read our minds, especially our significant others?

Why do we think, “He should just know what I want!”

By not asking for want we want and expecting people to guess, we are giving our power away. We are saying, “What I want does not matter enough for me to ask for it.”

Is that really what we want?

Is that how we really want to live—not expressing our wants and needs and being disappointed all the time?

I say no!

If you want something, ask for it.

So what if this makes you a little uncomfortable?

Change and growth never happen when you are comfortable.

Find the courage, find the strength to ask for what you want.

Ed and I both learned early on in our marriage how to do this, and I think this has been a big part of why we have been married for 27 years. Of course, this works because we both honor and respect each other’s requests, but what if we never asked in the first place?

What if we never said what we wanted and needed? Would we be in the same place today?

I doubt it.

Clear communication only happens when people speak clearly to each other.

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