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I sometimes hear from spouses who have been very honest about the fact that they are no longer happy with their marriages. Often, they hesitate to share this information because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But when enough time goes by that it’s clear that nothing is going to change, they feel as though they have to say something. So they sit their spouse down and they tell him or her that they just aren’t happy and they ask their spouse for help. Sometimes, they can be quite disappointed with the results. And it can begin to feel as if their spouse isn’t even willing to make even the smallest effort.
To give you an example of what I mean, I might hear a wife say: “my husband used to be so romantic and attentive. It used to be that he couldn’t do enough for me to show me how much he loved and appreciated me. He used to buy me flowers and special treats. He used to take me out to dinner just to spend time to me. Now, he takes me for granted on a daily basis. I rarely get his attention, much less his affection. I feel like I am invisible. I am happy that I am able to stay home with my children, but I feel like he thinks less or me because of it. He seems like he doesn’t respect me as much as he did when I worked. Most of the time, we only talk about the kids. There are times when I have fantasized about just leaving him. But I don’t want to do that to my kids. So, I sat my husband down and I told him that I wasn’t happy. He didn’t take this well. He told me that I am selfish and that he works very hard to make enough money so that I can stay home and here I am telling him that what he does isn’t good enough for me. He asked me what I do to make him happy. He pretty much made me feel like a loser. And he’s made it clear that he won’t even try to do different things to make me happy. What now?”
This is a bit difficult for me to answer because, in my own situation, I was in the husband’s shoes. My own husband tried to tell me that he wasn’t happy. But, I didn’t pay much attention and I told myself he was just blowing off steam. I can assure that he wasn’t. He eventually became frustrated and impatient with my not taking any action. And he left. We ended up separated. And you can believe that I paid attention then.
So its actually very important to convey how serious of a situation this truly is. Sure, your husband is probably hoping that he can just downplay this and that you will stop talking about it. But you are the only one who can show him that this isn’t true. And, with a few tips, you can probably learn how to approach him so that he not only listens, but he takes some action to make sure that you are happier within your marriage.
Make Sure That He Isn’t Just Hearing Your Criticize Him: As a person who has been on the other side of this conversation, I can tell you that when you hear these words, it can feel like an attack and it can feel as if you need to defend yourself. So, you’re not necessarily hearing what they are asking of you. Instead, you’re hearing them tell you that you are not good enough. And that hurts. So whether you mean for it to happen or not, sometimes, you end up making your spouse even more unhappy as a result.
The unhappy spouse has to be very careful about how they approach this. They want to say this in such a way that it doesn’t feel hurtful to the recipient. In addition, you need to attempt to undo some of the damage that has already been done. I would suggest something like: “the last time we discussed this, it didn’t go well. So I’d like to try again. I’m not trying to tell you that you are not a good, and hard working husband. I very much appreciate all that you do for our family. But do you remember when we were first dating and the two of us couldn’t do enough for each other and couldn’t talk or touch one another enough? I know that we were young and a bit naive. I know that we have additional responsibilities now. But I miss those days. They were so special. I don’t expect for you to come home from a hard day of work and then work for me. But, I would like it if you would touch me more and listen for a little longer. I would like it if you’d stop for a few minutes and ask me about my day so that I feel heard. I’d like to know that you appreciate me. And, in return, I vow to do the same for you. I feel like we could both do better. And I feel that if we both put in the effort, we’d see a huge pay off. Will you help me to make this happen?”
I’d like to make one final point. It can be a mistake to insinuate that you expect for your spouse to “make” you happy. This just isn’t fair because the only person who can truly make you happy is you. Your husband can’t make you happy without a lot of your input and help in the process. But yes, it is worth the effort for you to mention this again. You both deserve to be happy. And with a little effort, I believe that you can be.
write by brooks