It's been a long day and you both just climbed in bed - exhausted.
You wish she would snuggle up close, and yet she is totally oblivious to your needs. She has had a long day (and in her mind, all is well) and it's time for sleep.
You share the normal goodnight kiss, say "I love you," and roll over, not even touching. A hundred thoughts start rolling through your head (thoughts she knows nothing about), mostly complaints about things you wish she would do or not do, and ways that she isn't meeting your needs.
You start to think, "Doesn't she even care? Can't she tell that I need her?"
Without realizing it, complaints like the ones below immediately start to form a mental list in your head - a list that immediately makes you feel like your marriage is dying and your spouse needs to change. You are feeling frustrated and maybe a bit hopeless. You are discouraged yet you haven't said anything to your darling because they are already asleep. Husbands and wives, do any of these sound familiar?
Why doesn't she greet me with a hug when I come home instead of just complaining about her day?
Did he notice all I did today?
Why is she so concerned about money?
Why is he always wanting to play video games?
I just wish he would ask me about my day and how things are really going, but he doesn't have a clue, or seem to care.
We argue about the same things, all the time.
He never wants to make any decisions, he just expects me to make all the decisions.
I'm just lonely. We have nothing to talk about anymore.
He expects me to do everything around the house.
She is always on her phone, and she doesn't even seem to realize I'm right here next to her.
He never takes a hint.
She only wants to talk about the kids.
Why doesn't he pay more attention to the kids?
She doesn't get ready anymore.
She never leaves me little notes anymore.
He never brings me flowers.
Now, if you let the above thoughts fester, you could quickly threaten the health and happiness of your relationship.
Because what you don't realize is that by thinking only of yourself, you are allowing selfishness to creep in.
In the scenario above, your sweet wife had no clue that you were feeling so neglected. Now, your needs and complaints shouldn't just be brushed off (there is a time and place to bring them up and address them), but don't fall into the trap of being critical and upset. All you need is a little love and affection.
So, what do you do when you feel like your spouse isn't meeting your needs?
Here are four things that may help you out when you start to feel this way:
1. Stop thinking negative thoughts
Just stop. Stop creating a list of where your partner falls short. Letting criticism into your marriage is pretty dangerous, so please, just stop.
2. Start creating a mental list of all the things you love about that husband or wife of yours
Think about everything you love about your husband or wife. Think about what they have accomplished, what their greatest gifts and abilities are, small ways they have been thoughtful and selfless towards you, your favorite memories together and all the little things he or she does to bless your life.
3. Do something to show care and concern for your spouse
That's right, forget about yourself for a moment and find a way to do something to check in with your spouse. To do this properly, you have to forget about yourself for just a moment. Try kissing your spouse 10 times as you smother them with love. Or perhaps before bed, you can say "thank you", give them a big hug, and snuggle before you both fall asleep - with plans to do something small for him or her in the morning.
Whatever you choose, find a way to turn your focus from yourself and your needs to your spouse and their needs.
Choosing to focus on your spouse instead of yourself will immediately fill your heart with love. You'll also have encouraging thoughts about the state of your marriage relationship and how good things really are.
4. Start a new day with a fresh perspective, a heart full of love and a willingness to appreciate your marriage for what it is
The happiness level of your marriage is largely up to you. Your choice to see the good, focus on meeting your spouse's needs and choosing to be optimistic and grateful will go a long way in nurturing a healthy relationship.
Finally, attitude and perspective won't fix all marital problems, but as you focus on your spouse and their needs, you will find that your satisfaction with your relationship will increase. You'll also learn the magic of intentionally nurturing your marriage in order for it to thrive.
This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.