Do you have a nagging sense that your relationship is in trouble? Maybe you’re a busy mother who’s juggling home, kids. husband, friends, parents, work, social activities. On the surface you appear to have a successful family life, but that’s not quite the whole picture.
Does something feel ‘off’ in your marriage?
Are you feeling increasingly frustrated and resentful? Or emotionally disconnected from your husband?
Here are 5 Signs You’re Drifting Apart in Your Marriage:
1. It’s difficult to remember back to the time when it was just the two of you – those hazy, fun, carefree days before the kids came along. And even harder to recall what you found to talk about back then. You vaguely remember the days when you could talk forever, when hours passed without either of you noticing. But that seems like a lifetime ago now.
2. Most of your conversations now revolve around the kids, the house and the grind of daily life. On the rare occasions it’s just the two of you, you struggle with what else to discuss.
3. You’ve given up arranging ‘date nights’ because it’s too much hassle to arrange babysitters – and what would you talk about anyway?
4. Your social lives are becoming increasingly separate – he arranges nights out and weekends away with ‘the boys.’ In response you’re relying more and more on your girlfriends for fun, adult conversation and connection.
5. On the rare occasions you do spend any quality time together, it’s always you who has to plan it, and you feel resentful. After all, if he can’t be bothered to make the effort, why should you?!
If you recognize your relationship here – don’t panic! It doesn’t mean you’re headed for the divorce courts – it means you’re now aware. And awareness is the first and most important step in making any change in your life.
Here are 5 Steps to reverse the drift and start reclaiming control of your life and marriage:
1. Decide to work on feeling better about your marriage for your own sake.
Do it as an act of self-care and self-love. After all, you’re the one feeling the dissatisfaction, frustration, resentment and unhappiness. Do it for you.
Give up ‘tit for tat’ thinking, ie: ‘If he’s not going to bother, why should I?’ Imagine if he’s thinking similarly? That stance is never going to create positive change in your marriage.
Ask yourself what you would need to believe about your husband and marriage in order to start feeling more positive towards him. Make sure it’s something you truly believe that feels better than your current thinking. What do you appreciate about him? Start there. When you feel better you will behave differently towards him – and he in turn will begin to respond differently to you. Feeling better is always an option – no matter how he is behaving!
2. Don’t expect your husband to be a mind reader. Ask for what you want BUT don’t be attached to him complying.
Make requests of your husband and let him know your expectations. Don’t wait for him to guess what help you need in the house or with the kids – communicate! I know you think he should know this already – but he’s a man, his brain is wired differently to yours.
When making your requests of him – do not make your happiness dependent on him complying. His view of what is reasonable and yours may vary greatly – that’s what makes us all different. As adults we have a choice about how we want to behave in our lives.
There is nothing your husband has to do for you. Equally, there is nothing you have to do that you don’t want to. You may disagree and think you ‘have’ to cook dinner for your kids every evening, but you can reframe it as: I choose to cook for them because I love them and want them to be healthy and happy. This perspective is so much more empowering than feeling like a martyr.
How you choose to feel when your husband doesn’t behave the way you want him to is up to you – don’t give that power away to him.
3. Question your thinking and be willing to change it to get the result you want.
The next time your husband p*sses you off, ask yourself what you are making his behaviour mean – about you, about him and about your marriage. For example: ‘He doesn’t respect me, he doesn’t appreciate me, he’s not a good husband, etc.’
So often, we misinterpret other people’s behaviours (ie we ‘make up stories’ in our minds) and we assign negative meaning to it. Based on the story we tell ourselves, we feel negative emotion towards the person, which drives the way we communicate and interact with them, and how they in turn respond to us. This pattern keeps us stuck in a cycle of negativity because negative thinking always creates a negative result.
What would you need to think and believe in order to get the result you want in your marriage, ie emotional connection with your husband? Are you willing to make the change? Why or why not?
4. Be willing to set and uphold healthy boundaries in your marriage.
Boundaries are about taking care of yourself, they are not about controlling other people’s behaviour. That is the beauty of them. Boundaries are necessary when there is a violation of your physical or emotional wellbeing, eg when someone is behaving in a way you find unacceptable. A boundary consists of a request and a consequence and can be spoken or unspoken.
They’re an act of self-care and should always be set from a place of love – for yourself and the other person. Being willing to uphold our own boundaries is how we teach other people how to treat us.
5. Take back the job of making YOU happy.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your husband’s job to make you happy! So many of us buy into the myth that ‘if only’ he would change and morph into someone different, ‘then’ all would be well and we could be happy. The problem with this way of thinking is that our happiness becomes dependent on our husband behaving a certain way. In this scenario, not only have we have given away all of our power, we will also attempt to control and manipulate him into behaving the way we want – because our happiness depends on it! Not the recipe for happy, healthy relationships.
When you take back the job of making you happy and taking care of your own emotional needs, you create a different energy in your relationship because you no longer ‘need’ your husband to fulfil this role. And that is the space in which ‘magic’ can happen in your relationship.
Have you noticed that the above steps are all about what you can do differently – not a word about your husband changing? Frustrating I know – especially when: ‘He’s the one who needs to change!!’ I get it. I also know that creating change in any relationship starts with you.
When you reclaim your power over the things within your control, ie your own thoughts, emotions and behaviours, you transform your relationship with yourself first. And when that happens, you find that all of your relationships also improve, including your relationship with your husband.
In the comments below, share your thoughts. Has this resonated with you? Do you feel inspired to make some changes to strengthen your relationship? (You can write ‘anonymous’ in the name field if you prefer and your email is never disclosed.)
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Latest posts by Julie Marah; Wife Coach (see all)
- 5 Signs You’re Drifting Apart in Your Marriage and What To Do About It - August 18, 2014