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How to Avoid Taking Your Spouse for Granted

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Germany, Bavaria, Munich, Happy woman with new shoe, sad man with empty purse
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Q: My wife constantly says that I take her for granted. I kiss her often and tell her that I love her on special occasions. I think she's a wonderful person or I wouldn't have married her. What more does she want? What am I doing wrong?

A: This is a tale as old as time. Many a wife has griped that her hubby just didn't appreciate all that she does for him. While it's true that times have changed and most men and women divide household chores and both contribute to the family income, women still carry the brunt of the responsibilities at home. Certainly, if you have children, your wife is the one wiping the runny noses and changing the majority of the diapers. Sometimes, as she is doing all this stuff for you and the kids, she is wondering if anyone cares. She doesn't get a paycheck for this. There are no awards. And you and the kids probably only talked to her about her work when there's something you don't like.

What you need to do is show a little gratitude. Of course, continue to be affectionate and clue her into the fact that you love her. But also say thank you. Tell her that you noticed when on the day that she had a major deadline at work, she managed to cook you dinner and clean all the floors in the house. Tell her that you appreciate all she does for you, including the laundry and reminders about your mom's birthday.

If you really want to be fair and just, you will ask her how you can pitch in more. Do your own laundry every once in a while. If she cooks the meal, then offer to wash the dishes. Keep up your end of the bargain when it comes to other household chores. Make sure that she's not carrying all the responsibility on her shoulders. Every so often, offer to rub those shoulders for her. You'd be surprised at how your efforts and the time you take to notice what she's actually doing for the family will change your relationship.

When your wife says that she feels as though you take her for granted, she is not necessarily saying she feels unloved. She is saying that you don't recognize the hard work she puts into being a good wife and/or mother. She is saying that you have failed to notice all the stuff she does around the house or at work or both. She is saying that your life wouldn't be as easy without her, and she just wants you to say so and understand that. She wants to know that she matters to you. She wants to know that you know she matters.

We all need to be needed. And we need validation that we're doing a good job. In first grade, the teacher might have given you a gold star for doing well in the spelling bee. Well, your wife needs a gold star for doing everything for you, loving you, and still managing to look good. Just give her the gold star already. If there's something your wife has suggested she wants to do, such as a date night at a special restaurant, take her there and tell her you were motivated to give her this gift because of all she does to support you.

Now, if you feel as though she takes you for granted, too, you should tell her. Don't do it when you're taking her on the special date and don't just say this because you're annoyed she feels as though you don't appreciate her. You have to really mean it. You have to truly feel as though she doesn't recognize all that you do for her and your kids if you have them. Otherwise, keep your mouth zipped. This should not be about tit for tat. You too might feel unappreciated at times, and telling your wife will give her the chance to reflect and react just as you have. Again, this could help the two of you make strides toward a stronger relationship.

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