This week, Imagine Hope is finishing up with the last two reasons why your wife might be unhappy in your marriage. As we shared in last weeks blog series (the counterpart to this week-- Why is Your Husband Not Attracted To You?), unhappiness can look a lot like your spouse is not attracted to you. She may resist sex or have no sexual or physical desire, pull away from you or seem distant/disengaged, or no longer share her thoughts and feelings with you. Typically, this is a symptom of something else going on in the marriage. While we don't want to paint a broad brushstroke or over generalize, this is what we most commonly see in our therapy practice. If you haven't read the earlier blog posts from this week, we encourage you to go back and read parts 1-3 from this series.
Not showing interest in what's important to her.
I explain this to my clients as investing in her "internal world". Every woman has an internal world, which contains her needs, hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, and things she enjoys doing that bring her joy. Many relationships can become very disconnected when a husband fails to recognize what is truly important to his wife. This can even be things she has directly asked him about, or shared the importance of. The mistake we most often see is when a husband thinks that, because it's not important to HIM, it shouldn't be important to HER. That "to do" list of things driving her crazy that she really wants to get done (but needs your help), that you don't think is "important"; or the need for more dates and courting in the marriage; or perhaps a restaurant she has been wanting to try for months; or the need for more emotional sharing and emotional depth/conversation in the marriage-- to show her more empathy and draw her out with more conversation besides the "functional" things in life. These are just a few examples of what we commonly hear.
What's the big deal, right? Maybe you think it's alright because you do things you enjoy separate from each other. Well, the big deal is that when you stop investing in what's important to her, she stops investing in you. And that means attraction, as well. Pretty scary, huh? This sets your marriage up not only for disconnection, but also opens the door for infidelity. Taking care of yourself and doing things as individuals, owning your needs and doing them for yourself, regardless of whether your spouse engages in them is part of being healthy. But if you don't show investment in what's important to her, you are allowing your marriage to starve. We aren't saying this is right, but we see this happen time and time again in our sessions with clients. A woman typically has a strong need to feel like her husband cares about & nurtures her heart. If you aren't doing this, you run the risk of her feeling lonely, and vulnerable to the attention of someone who does show interest in her.
Always talking about yourself and what's important to you.
When is the last time you spontaneously asked your wife something about her? These questions are not related to work, kids, or functional household things. If it's about any of these things, it's not truly about her. Sadly enough, some couples stop asking about each other as soon as the marriage starts. Courtship is not just about dating and "winning" her over. But many couples stop learning about each other, because they think that asking questions about their wife is only for dating.
Sometimes, husbands mistake silence and lack of reciprocal questions as "comfort with each other", an "ease of being together", or "contentment". It certainly could be this, but before you assume it's contentment, ask your wife if it's actually disconnection. Many women stop sharing their thoughts, feelings, needs & dreams because their husbands are so comfortable talking about themselves without asking their wife anything about her, they just stop sharing spontaneously altogether. If he doesn't ask (or engage), it can truly feel like he doesn't care.
Again, we aren't saying this is okay. But this is the truth of what we frequently see.
We encourage you to take an honest look at each of these points from our blog series this week. Before you assume you know the answer to each point, why not ask your wife for her honest assessment? At least you will have answers and direction of what to work on as a couple!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doingmarriage counseling,relationship counseling,couples counseling, andindividual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.