He doesn’t appreciate anything I do. I don’t even think he notices all the things I do for the house, the kids, or for us. We wouldn’t even have a social life if I wasn’t connecting with people and organizing dates. It makes me feel invisible…like he doesn’t care about me.
Do these sound familiar? Maybe TOO familiar?
You aren’t alone. These are three of the most common complaints from women in marriage (and sometimes the men too!).
Yet you remember when it wasn’t like that…at the beginning. S/he would say ‘thank you” or “that was nice” and “excuse me” – for everything from bumping into you to farting. Back then you didn’t see it as being polite. You saw it as a sign; it showed s/he loved you.
When did it change? How did it happen?
Part of the shift happens simply with the familiarity of living together. Your together all the time, so you relax your manners a little. Politeness seems to be one of the first things to go when couples lives together. After all, you’re married, you don’t have to use your best manners all the time. Right?
However, it turns into some unspoken agreement between the two of you. It happens – almost without realizing it. It’s as though the two of you agreed that politeness wasn’t necessary anymore. Except it is. In fact, kindness between partners is critically necessary! Then, one day, you notice that s/he is being so polite to a co-workers (of the opposite sex), or even the clerk at the local convenience store. And your feelings are hurt…big time.
So what now?
If you’re the one feeling overlooked or disregarded, and it makes you feel sad or resentful, it’s time you renegotiated that agreement. Here are three Five-Year Marriage™ ways you can do that:
- Acknowledge the Shift. Pick a time when the two of you can have a quiet conversation – maybe at a coffee shop.
- Tell your spouse how the lack of manners between you makes you feel. S/he probably isn’t thinking it’s a problem. Maybe s/he even thinks it signifies your closeness.
- Expalin that it does the opposite for you.
- Ask if the two of you can get back to being polite.
- Pick one behavior to start with – like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ – and be specific.
- Put Polite on the Calendar. Suggest taking some time each night before dinner or before bed to tell each other one thing s/he did that day that made you feel good, or that you appreciated, or that you liked.
- Have a Family Meeting. A Five-Year Marriage™ favorite is a weekly Family Meeting which starts by sharing with each other what’s going right in the relationship. If you aren’t quite ready for Family Meetings, you could suggest just a “fast five” – a few minutes over a glass of wine or a beer to tell each other why you still think you are special to each other.
Give it a try!
If you like this idea, you’ll get others by reading the book, available on Amazon: The Five-Year Marriage™ : Shifting the Marriage Paradigm
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