Editor's Note: Dr. David Hawkins, best-selling author of When Pleasing Others is Hurting You and Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life, is pleased to announce that his column will be changing its format in upcoming weeks. Beginning immediately, readers are welcome to send him their relationship questions at email@example.com to be answered in his new advice column.
Most of us would quickly say we love our mate. We feel love for our mate. Likewise, most would say we value our mate. But, do we really show that we value our mate? Does your mate feel valued?
In a recent counseling session, the wife shared that she did not feel appreciated or valued by her husband. He quickly interrupted her and assured her that he did, indeed, value her.
“But, I don’t feel valued,” she shared again.
“I don’t know how you can say that,” he said angrily. “I do value you and respect you. You don’t know what I’m feeling.”
“I come in a distant fourth or fifth place in your life,” she said. “You value work and sports over me. I’ve asked you to do certain things and you promise and then forget to do them.”
He became even more notably irritable.
“I just can’t believe you’re saying that,” he said. “I don’t value my work over you. That’s ridiculous. Besides, I do those things most of the time.”
“Well,” she said slowly. “Meeting my needs some of the time doesn’t show me value. Could it be that you want to see yourself as someone who values their wife, when the reality is you really love your work and buddies more?”
He bristled but agreed to give it some more thought.
“Regardless of what you believe, I don’t feel valued. I don’t see actions I’ve asked for that would show me value.”
We continued to explore the issue and brainstorm remedies. This is a problem I see often in counseling. I hear many state that they don’t feel valued or appreciated, often to the discouragement of their mate who believes they are showing value. What is the problem? What are the solutions to this problem?
Here are a few ideas to consider and remedies to explore:
First, share with one another how you want to be loved and valued. We all want to be loved in different ways, and valued in very specific and individualized ways. Share with one another exactly how you want to be loved and valued. Understand that your mate cannot read your mind or know exactly what you want.
Second, be specific in your requests. Be specific in what you ask for. It is not effective to be vague in your requests. For example, saying “I want to be loved more,” is not specific. Saying “I want you to spend quality time with me every evening” is more specific. Saying “I want you to sit and talk to me for half an hour every evening” is even more specific.
Third, clarify feelings and the importance of them. It is important to share feelings as well. Sharing that you feel unimportant, unloved, or devalued is an important aspect of communication. Encourage your mate to empathize with your feelings. Add this to your specific requests.
Fourth, evaluate progress. Set a time to evaluate progress on your goals. Agree at the beginning that you will sit down together every week or two to determine how you are both doing at meeting each other’s needs.
Finally, appreciate steps of progress. Honor steps of improvement. We all want to be recognized for the efforts we make. Ensure that you are noticing the efforts of your mate and honoring their progress.
Do you value your mate? Are you certain you are doing the things your mates needs to feel valued? If you would like further help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives as well as our newly formed Subscription Group, Thrive, for women struggling from emotional abuse.
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Dr. David Hawkins, MBA, MSW, MA, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who has helped bring healing to thousands of marriages and individuals since he began his work in 1976. Dr. Hawkins is passionate about working with couples in crisis and offering them ways of healing their wounds and finding their way back to being passionately in love with each other.
Over the past ten years, Dr. Hawkins has become a leader in the field of treatment for narcissism and emotional abuse within relationships. He has developed several programs for treatment of men dealing with these issues and the women who love them. Dr. Hawkins is also a speaker & trainer for the American Association of Christian Counselors and writes for Crosswalk.com, CBN.org, and iBelieve.com. He is a weekly guest on Moody Radio and Faith Radio and is a best-selling author of over thirty books.