Question: Dear Luise: My wife says she doesn’t feel that I am aware of what she does for me and that I take her for granted. We do things for each other but I’m not into keeping score or feeling obligated. It seems like there’s some kind of hoop I’m supposed to jump through. Frankly, it’s starting to get to me. Why can’t we just be together and enjoy it? What’s this about? Les
Answer: Dear Les: Your situation is probably going to require some marriage counseling sessions. You have one point of view and she has another.
I think that one of the biggest pitfalls in relationships is the concept that one person should think, act and react according to how the other person perceives he/she should. We are not designed to take our identity from the blueprint of another. We are all vastly different and have that right.
It’s natural, in our society, that when a spouse feels he’s/she’s not appreciated, it’s the partner’s fault. That’s because we aren’t taught that we are responsible for our own feelings. What most of us have learned from our role models is “if I don’t feel good, you’re not doing something right”.
I have no idea what a professional will come up with when you start working with one, since I haven’t had that experience. What I assume is that your wife picked you because she liked you and you picked her because you liked her. In the normal course of events, “like” became love and love grew into partnership.
I firmly believe that in partnership you get to continue to be you, and it’s not your job to remake yourself to suit her requirements. Conversely, she gets to continue to be herself. The adjustment called marriage is combining who each of you is and learning the fine art of negotiation and compromise through communication. Coming up with hypothetical prototypes that you submit to each other and expect to see accepted doesn’t work. When it looks like it’s working, I think it’s often because one person is dominant and the other complies. To me, that isn’t partnership…it’s closer to pathology.
Get some help with this and see if you can get back to what you first liked about each other. Surely it wasn’t just someone who had the potential to become someone else on demand. Blessings, Luise