I work a full time job, take care of our 2 kids, and do all of the house work. I pay just as many bills as he does, take care of the yard and basically anything that arises in our household. He is constantly telling me what I "didn't do" instead of showing any appreciation for everything I do. It's getting to the point that I'm starting to resent him and feel very depressed and overwhelmed. I've had talks with him and he will stop for a week and then back to it. I'm only one person, I can't take much more! How can I get him to just appreciate me?
We asked an expert for help, a licensed marriage therapist.
Christine Wilke, Ed.S, LMFT, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist was so helpful to take time out of her busy schedule to answer this question for us.
This is such a common issue for so many couples. With all of the stress of day to day life it’s easy for couples to take each other for granted.
Having a great marriage doesn’t have to be complicated though.
I like to keep things simple.
When I work with couples I teach them 3 basic steps to help them build a successful relationship. And all of these steps can be applied to this couple’s situation.
Fresh New Vision
One of the first things I help couples do when I work with them is I help them create a whole new vision for their relationship. This is so important because it’s really the first step toward creating lasting change.
I believe perspective is everything in life. How you choose to see your relationship is how you will experience it.
This can make a big difference for this couple.
Because what you focus on expands. If you choose to see the negative in your partner or the relationship that’s what you’ll experience. On the other hand if you choose to focus on the positive that’s what you’ll see.
Unfortunately, when there’s a lot of conflict in your marriage (And just for the record, all marriages have conflict.) it starts to cover over all the good stuff and before you know it, that’s all you see. It’s like a big, black cloud covering your entire relationship.
You never get a chance to see and appreciate all the good that your partner may be doing right under your nose. It’s important to not only recognize when your partner is doing something you appreciate, but also to express it in a meaningful way. Which brings me to the second step.
Solid Communication Skills
The second thing I do with my couples is I teach them really solid relationship skills so that when they talk to each other, instead of feeling frustrated and misunderstood, they begin to feel supported and validated.
One of these skills is called the Appreciation Dialogue where they get to practice letting each other know what specific things they love and appreciate about each other. It makes such a difference.
Thirdly, and most importantly I help my couples develop long lasting healthy habits for their relationship so that this new vision and these powerful new relationship skills will last a lifetime.
Couples often practice behaviors over the years that morph into ingrained habits. Unfortunately these habits don’t often get them what they want, namely a really great relationship.
In the example above the husband sounds like he’s gotten out of the habit of noticing what he loves so much about his wife, which is something I’m sure he noticed in the beginning of their relationship.
The trick is to practice what you want not what you don’t want until what you want becomes the new normal. Practicing these new habits doesn’t have to be hard. It fact it can be fun.
I’ve developed a creative way for couples to practice sprinkling in some appreciation in their relationship every day. It’s called the Appreciation Jar and I’ve included it below.
It’s helped many of my clients reinvigorate their relationship and I hope it does the same for yours.
Christine Wilke teaches busy professionals how simple it can be to build a supportive, passionate marriage — one loving step at a time. To learn how to develop powerful tools to help you create this dynamic relationship together, visit her website.
Christine also offers virtual sessions!
From Blissful Blue Jays and our readers, thank you so much Christine!
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