Just the other day my husband Adam was home for a late lunch break after a series of long workdays and multiple projects. As we talked, I complained to him about what I perceived as his lack of attention toward me.
“You know,” he responded, “I really have been trying, and this makes me feel discouraged. It’s like you want me to follow a script, but I’m not told what the script is.”
Ouch. His words hit me, especially as I saw how much my words had hurt him. When I looked at my own heart, I realized his words were true.
This incident reminded me again of how much I influence the way my husband views himself. When I get down, or complain about how things aren’t perfect in our life or compare our family to another, Adam takes it as a personal attack or ungratefulness for all of the hard work he’s put in to allow us to have the life we have.
My expectations were high, yet I wasn’t factoring in how much was on his plate. Plus, I wasn’t communicating to him my needs. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to fulfill my needs, but he didn’t even know what they were.
His words reminded me that he does love me and that even when I feel like he’s too busy to give me the attention I desire it’s not because he doesn’t want to or isn’t trying. It’s precisely because he loves me that he’s working hard to give us the life we have.
Instead of complaining, I realized I needed to focus on encouraging him and building him up. I wanted him to know I don’t take what he does for me for granted. When I thank him for his hard work, praise him for his sacrifices, or go the extra mile with the little things for him, he is confident in the other areas of his life. This is because he knows he has my love and respect behind him.
But what about me not feeling like I have his attention? Our little chat also reminded me that if I want Adam to meet my expectations, it means I also have to communicate them to him (and also have realistic ones). We agreed that I needed to do a better job of telling Adam what I needed to feel valued and that he also needed to work at better anticipating my needs, namely, adding a little romance to our lives.
Adam isn’t perfect and neither am I, but he works hard to be the man he knows I deserve. It also means that I need to let him know he’s already everything I could ever want.