Why do we sometimes treat the people we love the most in the worst ways? Many of us say things to our spouses we would never say to a stranger in line at the grocery store. We wouldn’t have treated our partners this way when we were first dating, as we were too concerned about impressing them.
Think back over the history of your relationship, whether it involves many years or only a few. When did it become okay to stop being polite and courteous? When did even basic courtesies, such as saying please and thank you or cleaning up after yourself, stop happening? Okay, some days are better than others, but somewhere along the line, many spouses end up treating others better than they treat their partners.
Five Ways We Take Our Partners for Granted
One way we take our partners for granted is in the expectations we set for them. This is a rather insidious and destructive process. It starts in a positive way, with your spouse doing something kind or helpful for you. Maybe it is washing the dishes after dinner or picking up something you needed from the store without being asked. You appreciate the act and are thankful, and you probably say so. Then it happens again, and you think, Wow, this is cool. I could get used to this! Sure enough, that is exactly what you do . . . you get used to it. Over time, what used to be new and exciting becomes the new normal that you now expect.
Another way we take our partners for granted is by making decisions that don’t include them. Sometimes this happens because you assume you know what your spouse will think. Sometimes you may have talked about a decision and known your partner wasn’t 100 percent on board, but you went ahead and made the decision anyway. When you don’t ask for help or advice from your spouse, or even for their opinion, you send the message that your partner doesn’t matter.When you don’t ask for help or advice from your spouse, or even for their opinion, you send the message that your partner doesn’t matter.Click To Tweet
Lack of Kindness
One of the easiest ways to make your partner feel taken for granted is to stop being kind. When you were dating, perhaps you opened the door and brought your wife flowers. You might have left your husband love notes and did special things for him. Do you find yourself too busy or distracted to take the time to do these things for each other now? Maybe you show a lack of kindness in the words you use. . . or don’t use.
Lack of Romance
Romance takes a lot of work in a marriage. Early on in your relationship, you probably invested more time and energy in romance. I have heard couples talk about how important Valentine’s Day was to them when they were dating, and now they refer to it as a “Hallmark Holiday.” The motivation just isn’t there anymore.
Romance in a marriage doesn’t require grand gestures. It often only requires taking the time to say and do things that let your partner know you are thinking of them in a romantic or sexual way. Most marital partners I have worked with want to feel desired, noticed, and appreciated. When this doesn’t happen, they can easily start to feel that the romance is gone in the relationship.
Lack of Time
I remember a comment a husband made during a session years ago. After many attempts in counseling to create space and time for dates for he and his wife, they still were not able to regularly reserve time for each other. Why do we schedule time for strangers but not the people we share our lives with? It doesn’t make sense. Perhaps the most egregious offense in taking one’s spouse for granted is the lack of time reserved for your partner and the ease with which that time is sacrificed, even if it has been reserved.
Three Ways to Prevent Taking Your Partner for Granted
Make Time for Three Marriage Moments Every Week
Marriage Moment 1: The Schedule
Choose a time when you can sit down together each week for a schedule meeting. Make a commitment to hold this meeting every week no matter what else comes up. During this meeting, look over your schedule for the week. Before you set anything else in stone, reserve the next two marriage moments, the check-in and the date, for the coming week.
Marriage Moment 2: The Check-In
The check-in is a time when you can share any concerns or problems that either of you have that you might not be able to bring up at any other time. This scheduled time prevents the pressure of feeling forced to bring up an issue late at night because you now have a moment to talk to each other.
Marriage Moment 3: The Date
A date does not have to include a carriage ride, a candlelight dinner, and a mind-blowing sexual encounter. If you can work them in, that would be awesome, but many weeks may be too busy for an all-out night of romance. I am suggesting that you spend at least two hours every week enjoying time alone together.
A date can be a walk at sunset, a bike ride, dinner, shopping, or sitting quietly together on your patio. Try to avoid activities such as movies or shows in which you can’t talk or interact with each other.
The Choice Not to Take Each Other for Granted
The choice not to take each other for granted is all about preventing the deterioration of your relationship. Just like a healthy garden, a marriage needs to be tended and taken care of. All you have to do is invest the time and energy you have been using for less important priorities into this new goal—the goal of building up your partner and letting them know how much you appreciate all they do each and every day.
Adapted from 10 Choices Successful Couple Make. Copyright © 2019 Dr. Ron Welch, published by Revell Publishing, used with permission, all rights reserved.