Lack of awareness plus lack of thought equals lack of relationship. Steven Lake identifies ten behaviors that put your marriage at risk.
Thoughtless: Without thought.
In this crazy world, it is easy to be thoughtless. It is easy to be all consumed with my own experience of reality to the exclusion of all others including my wife. It is easy to forget that it is not all about me.
When I come out of my self-delusional state, my mind is still foggy and I thank God for my smart phone which keeps all those precious reminders of what I need to do to keep me and my spouse happy.
It is not like I don’t love her, quite the opposite. I love her immensely, it is my limitations that I have to work with. But knowing these limitations I can support myself to make decisions that support the relationship and keep everyone smiling and feeling good, including myself.
Being thoughtful has many benefits including less fights, more love-making, better immune system, a longer life and more good feeling between me and my spouse. Does being thoughtful take more time and effort than being thoughtless? Of course, but it is time well spent.
Here are ten items to remember and avoid at all costs. This list comes from a heterosexual male perspective (the writer’s) which reflects some traditional expectations – who should be responsible for what and when (not that I agree with them) and twenty years of working with women as a psychotherapist. I hear a lot of stories.
Apply to your situation what makes sense to you.
1. Thoughtless: Forgetting anniversaries
For whatever reason, I’ve noticed that anniversaries are very important to women. I think it is seen as a level of your concern for the relationship. If you forget a birthday, Valentine’s Day or the wedding anniversary – how much do you really care is what she thinks.
Anyone who has forgotten some important date knows the pain and heartache it can cause. Believe me, it is easier to schedule it in your smart phone with reminders if need be, than live with the fallout of forgetting.
Important days could include when you first met, your first date, when you officially started dating (that’s one we have), your cousin Vinnie’s birthday (kidding). The point is, no date is too small to assume it is not worth celebrating. The sooner you have established the requisite dates, the better.
2. Thoughtless: Making appointments without checking with your partner
This is a biggie and usually happens in the early stages of a relationship, though, even after seventeen years, I still occasionally make this mistake. Sometimes, I forget I’m married and act like a single person. Go figure.
Obviously, this gets me into trouble. I am not single, and like any partnership, my partner wants to be included in the decision making process. They don’t want things sprung on them especially if they have to do any work to prepare for the event.
Typically, because yes comes out of my mouth automatically when people ask me to do something, I can easily find myself agreeing to something without checking in with my partner to see if we have something else planned. Over time I have learned to bite my tongue, or use delaying tactics (I need to check my schedule, let me think about it, I will get back to you in an hour).
3. Thoughtless: Buying expensive things without discussing it with her
This often happens when the person doing the buying is the major bread-winner in the marriage. They think, “This is my money, I can spend it any way I like.” They don’t stop to think that their partner might have a different opinion. And if they know there will not be approval from their spouse, and do it anyway without consulting, what does that say about the relationship? Is that respectful? No!
4. Thoughtless: Going out with the boys too frequently
In the early days of a relationship, after you have moved in together, some men act as if they are single and continue to spend as much time with their male friends as they did before becoming involved in a full-time intimate relationship.
Doing this you will discover that it is a quick way to major fights and complaints from your spouse who will be reminding you that you now have a primary relationship which means spending less time with your buds. If she is smart, she knows that your male friendships are valuable – they keep you balanced.
My wife, wise woman that she is, often encourages me to get out of the house and see my male friends. I enjoy seeing my buds and come back re-energized and appreciative of what is waiting for me at home rather than resenting her if I had to fight to get time with my friends. That said, I am conscious of her needs regarding time with me.
5. Thoughtless: Expecting sex on demand
Again, this one might be present early in a relationship, sometimes not because we demand it, but because it may be happening a lot due to the newness of the relationship. It is not unusual for the quantity of sex to slow down over time and go through interruptions due to illness or childbirth.
Believe it or not, there is a flip that happens in this scenario. Women hit their sexual peak in their late thirties and men’s testosterone and libido starts to decrease around this time. In my practice I have seen countless women in their forties and fifties complaining about the lack of sex with their husbands.
That said, I know some men that expect their wives to be available pretty much whenever they want sex and take it as a personal insult when they get resistance or push back. Welcome to male privilege and narcissism. The world is not all about you and your needs.
That does not mean you can’t ask for what you want, it is just unrealistic to expect to get your way all the time.
6. Thoughtless: Forgetting to help out around the house
Even in this day of supposed equality between the sexes, women still do the majority of the housework even when working full time. I know you are not one of these guys but if unsure, ask. That’s all it takes. Your spouse will feel that you care enough to check in with her. Then help if she tells you what needs doing.
To score serious bonus points, look for what needs doing and do it without being told. Whenever I do this, my partner feels loved. Why? Because one of her love languages is acts of service.
7. Thoughtless: Watching way too many sports programs
If you are a sports fan this can be a major area for disagreement. This is similar to time out with the boys. Indeed, watching sports and being with the boys may be one and the same thing.
I love watching sports. I find it relaxing (golf), exciting (football), and connecting (me, my friends and the fans). With cable I could be watching the screen all day and night. This would be a problem. Of course I don’t do this (unless I am by myself sick at home then I indulge). Maybe that is how we should look at watching sports. An indulgence. And like chocolate or ice cream, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. Learning that relationship health is better for us in the long run than instant gratification but treating or indulging with awareness and with an eye to a balanced diet will make everyone happier in the end.
8. Thoughtless: Being on the computer too much
This is similar to watching sports too much but with one difference. It is easy to say you are working. Hard to do that when watching the TV. Are you a gamer, researcher, or Facebook junkie? Both sexes can get caught up with the bedazzling effects of the pulsing blue light.
It can become an addiction and like all addictions, your relationship will suffer greatly. Hopefully, you are not at this stage. I use my computer for work and I work from home a lot. It is difficult to know when to pull back and come out of the internet world and back into the home and my relationship with my wife.
One key I have learned is to listen when my wife tells me I am spending too much time on the computer. I always argue even though I know she is right and then I get off as soon as I can.
9. Thoughtless: Treating her only like a friend and forgetting she is your lover too
This one tends to happen over time. It can be a slow gradual decline as you get caught up with the demands of life. When kids are involved it is almost impossible not to fall into this trap of forgetting to see your wife as your lover and not just a mother to your kids and good partner and friend.
Keeping the embers of passion burning means taking time to be together, alone, focusing on each other, and looking into the eyes and soul of your partner to see the passion of your love for each other. Stopping the merry-go-round of life is no easy task BUT it is essential to seeing your wife as your love(r).
10. Thoughtless: Not treating her with respect
Having respect for your spouse, according to leading marriage researchers, is critical to a successful marriage. Why would you stay married to someone you don’t respect? It boggles my mind. I think it is fear of the unknown (life without your spouse), fear of facing the truth (how much things suck), fear of making change (lack of belief that change can occur), laziness (not wanting to put in the effort required), and a lack of self-respect.
To treat someone without respect and live with them does nothing but increase bitterness and contempt which is soul destroying for both partners. If you feel you are or are going down this road STOP. Stop everything, give yourself a good shake, and ask yourself if you want to continue in this misery.
Well, there you have it, ten behaviors or ways of being to avoid if you want to give your relationship a better opportunity to thrive.
I will leave the last words to Homer (not the TV cartoon – the Greek philosopher):
There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.
Also by Steven Lake
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