By: Leslie Cane: I sometimes hear from people who have begun to realize that their spouse doesn’t meet their needs anymore. They often feel as though their spouse doesn’t really understand, or appreciate, who they really are. Sometimes, the unsatisfied spouse will try to drop hints or to make comments in order to gently nudge more appreciation or attention out of their spouse. Sometimes, this is all that is needed. But other times, the dissatisfied spouse feels ignored and unappreciated. And occasionally, they can decide that they don’t want this type of marriage or this type of life anymore.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband constantly takes me for granted. I could drastically change my hair or get a very dark tan and he would not notice that there is anything different about me. About a month ago, I got a major promotion at work which was a very big deal for me. Not only did my husband not commend me or congratulate me, but he didn’t seem to understand why it was so important. He totally downplayed it like it was no big deal. One of my good girlfriends has been divorced for about a year and she just started dating again. Her new boyfriend constantly tells her how beautiful and special she is. She can put a tiny amount of highlights in her hair and he will notice immediately. He always leaves her little notes and does sweet things just to let her know that he is thinking about her. He will brag about how wonderful and unique she is around the rest of us. My husband never does anything like this. It is as if he doesn’t think that there is anything unique or special about me. I am just the one who cleans his clothes and makes his dinner. But he doesn’t get that there is truly a feeling person underneath. I very much resent this. I have a lot of anger about it. And I have been thinking about getting a separation or leaving my husband because I don’t want to share my life with a man who doesn’t make me feel special. What can I do?”
This type of correspondence is fairly common, especially among couples who have been married for a while. And it is also very common when friends of the dissatisfied spouse start dating again. Because now you are in a situation where you are witnessing people acting like teenagers who haven’t yet had to deal with the realities of a long term relationship. This doesn’t mean that this whole thing doesn’t hurt and that you just have to accept it. Every one deserves to feel loved and appreciated in their marriage. Every one wants, needs, and deserves acknowledgement. So in the following article, I will offer you tips on how to accomplish this.
Demonstrate The Behavior That You Want To See: I am going to ask you to have some patience with the point that I am about to make. Often, the easiest and most effective way to get what you want is to give it to someone else. I know that this might sound crazy, but bear with me. Often, when I ask dissatisfied spouses what they are doing that isn’t being reciprocated, it becomes obvious that neither spouse is showing a lot of the desired behavior to the other. And, it can be difficult to get loving, appreciative, and affectionate behavior from your spouse when you aren’t also giving it to him. So an easy way to start this process is to start to notice what makes your spouse special and then to compliment them on the same. I know that this might be particularly challenging when you feel this frustrated, but please try it. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised. Often, your spouse will begin to reciprocate (at least to the best of his ability) and if he doesn’t, then at least you have laid the foundation to having an important discussion about this.
If Changing Your Behaviors Doesn’t Get The Desired Response, Then It’s Time To Talk About It: Unfortunately, your spouse often can’t read your mind. And many can’t pick up on the clues which we think are very obvious. So, if after doing the best that you can, your spouse still isn’t making an effort to make you feel special, then you will want to carefully bring his attention to this. When things are going well between you, then you might say something like: “honey can we talk for a minute? I don’t mean to sound needy, but I would really like it if you could do a few little things to show me how much you appreciate me. I need to feel valued and noticed. I would like it if you would notice what is going on at my work and compliment me about it. I would like it if you would notice and compliment my appearance and reciprocate when I do nice things for you. I know that if you would make just a little bit of effort, our marriage would improve. And reigniting the spark would be fun for both of us.” Frankly, a good time to bring this up is after sex or after you have had a particularly fun night together. That way, he will be more receptive to what you are saying and is more likely to deliver.
When He Does Even A Little Bit Of What You Are Asking, Heap On The Positive Reinforcement: Sometimes, changes like this has to be a gradual process. You can’t expect for your spouse to change overnight. But most of the time, you will notice him make an effort with small changes. And when you do, then you want to give as much positive reinforcement as you can. Thank him and then do something nice for him in return. This way, he will associate making you feel special with something good happening to him so he will just naturally want to repeat the process.
Often, our spouses do love and appreciate us more than we think. And they just need a little nudge every now and again so that both of can revisit what makes you both special. Frankly, sometimes it can make us jealous to see friends in new relationships that are seemingly madly in love or infatuated. But sometimes, there is nothing as sweet as mature love that has been tweaked every once in a while.
Not feeling seen or appreciated was one of the warning signs that my marriage was in trouble. Unfortunately, I ignored the signs and this almost costs me my marriage. We eventually separated and almost divorced. I don’t want for you to make the same mistake. And I hope that you will take some action and improve things. If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com
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