“Why can’t he see that I need his help with the children when he comes home from work without my having to ask him for help? And why can’t he be more affectionate and let me know that I’m important?”
Invariably in my coaching and psychotherapy practice when I meet with a couple I hear this complaint on a first visit from the wife (unless the husband is the primary caregiver) if the couple have children.
Also invariably, the husband will respond to this complaint with:
“Why can’t she see that I need time to decompress from my work day when I come through the door for a short period of time instead of starting in on me to help her? And why can’t she first give me a kiss and tell me how much I’m appreciated?
What is usually underneath these complaints are three things:
1) Both husband and wife are overtired.
2) Neither person feels supported by the other in certain ways.
3) A couple of basic needs are not being met.
What is called for is to:
1) Recognize a need that both have for getting recharged, and support each other in getting that done. Do you need to take turns watching the kids so that you can get a massage, play a sport, do a creative activity, workout, or meet with friends for adult conversation? At first, this may seem hard to do because you’re both so worn out, and perhaps resentful that you haven’t felt supported or cherished. Just keep in mind that the payoff will be an increase in loving feelings for the other. Generosity of spirit always pays off! And you’re supporting the basic need of both of you to develop your own life.
2) Show emotional support in the form of demonstrated affection, and this is important, in the ways your partner wants, is the glue in relationships! Hint! Hint! Now this is specifically what I hear men say they want, so start today to tell your husband how much you appreciate what he does for the family, how much you love him, and ask him how much time he needs to decompress from the long days work–and give it to him! This act of generosity coming from you will have him wanting to give back to you equally!
Now men! Hint! Hint!This is what I hear women say they want, so try to start giving this to her today. You might be surprised at what you get back! Choose something that you appreciate about her– what she does for you, her appearance, how well she’s doing with the children. But most importantly hug her and kiss her a lot. Women want affection demonstrated in hugs and kisses. Gifts are usually way down on a woman’s list of ways she would like to know you care (though don’t dismiss this :-)) Then do ask how you can help once you’ve decompressed from the day, and don’t be dodgy about it!
Doing these things for each other demonstrates an element of healthy relationships, and shows that you care about the basic need of all humans of wanting to feel important and cherished. It’s the little efforts shown every day in loving ways that builds a rock solid foundation in a marriage.
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Remember: The payoff is a stronger relationship!
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