Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Busy Spouse

Question

My wife is in school—and when she isn’t in class, she’s either sleeping or doing her homework. I feel that she doesn’t make any time for me or our marriage. It seems the only time she really pays attention to me is when we have company. I’ve brought up my feelings before, but it only leads to fights. What should I do?

Answer

How do you approach your wife? Sounds like she is overworked, tired, lifeless. She has needs of her own and may not be voicing them. Are you demanding something from her or are you offering your heart to help? Even if you are tender with her, if you come across like “it’s all about you” and you are not willing to reach her in her world then she is less likely to respond to you in positive and helpful ways. We would suggest that at a more soft moment let her know that you would like to talk with her about her heart and your heart. Let her know that you do not want the talk to end up in a fight but rather you would like to understand her feelings better and that you would like her to be open to understanding yours. Stay on feelings! Stay away from how you think she needs to be acting. Ask her if she is tired, overworked, and if she is feeling sad or lonely. If she is soft at this point, let her know that you feel lonely too sometimes. Let her know that you are willing to help her in her struggles and talk about how she can enter your experience. Couples fail miserably when times of sharing are spent trying to convince the other to agree or understand. We find that there is much more success when someone steps up to the plate and asks to understand rather than be understood. We hope you will take the initiative in your relationship and do just that!

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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