Marriage and the Husband-Wife Relationship/Do I need to change my needs?

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Hello, I am seeking understanding on a problem which never seems to go away. I'm in my mid 50's and my husband is in his early 60's. We've been married five years. I am a wife who is deeply in need of kindness and positive feedback from my partner. For five years, whenever I do something, ie, paint a room, redecorate a room, fix a big meal, spend two full days cleaning the home, spend a whole day washing windows, mowing the lawn, it does not matter what, it seems impossible for my husband to give me any acknowledgement. We've had countless discussions about this and after years of this behavior it is now fights. I've heard every excuse in the book, he doesn't need acknowledgment so he finds it hard to give, he'll try harder, he's sorry, he had other things on his mind etc. It is just he and I in the home so there are no others who might say, "it looks nice". However if he does something, he'll come in the house, tell me what he did and drag me out to see it. Without positive feed back or acknowledgement, I feel as though what I give or do does equal his, I feel not appriecated, I feel disrespect, I feel hurt and all of this after all this time, I feel anger. I've told myself that I will have to give myself positive feedback. Clean the house, stand back and repeat to myself, it look nice Valerie and feel a sense of accomplisment, but it's not the same as having my husband say, hey, I see it, it looks nice. I feel needy at times because of this. This is really hurting our relationship, I'm losing more and more respct for him. If a friend or a neighbor does something, he'll praise them, if one of our daughters does something, he'll praise them...it's just me. At times I feel as if it's a way to control...if he doesn't praise me, I'll try harder to get his praise. This is hurtful. It makes me angry that just three little words...it looks nice would go so far in bringing us closer. Do I need to change my needs of having my husband offer me kind words? Five years is a long time not to feel as if I have a value. Thank you for your time and listening and any advice you may offer me. Blessings, Valerie.

Answer
Valerie,

Thanks for writing, and I pray what I say here may be of some help. It is interesting that you write this precisely when I was thinking about something I think is very much related. The easy answer to this, which you're probably expecting, I think is what a psychiatrist would say, or perhaps a regular marriage counselor would say, and that would be to examine why you feel this way (which is both normal and common#, to examine all the reasons you actually do the housework in the first place, what your expectations are, and why those expectations are not being met.

However, I am not a psychiatrist nor a trained marriage counselor. I was a seminarian studying for the priesthood in a Catholic Religious Congregation, and I've been married for almost 20 years.  What I offer is my own opinion based on what I've learned from the Catholic Church.

What I've noticed is that many marital problems are caused by spouses having different concepts about marriage in general, which leads to both spouses getting frustrated when their partners say or do something, or don't say or don't do something as they would expect... each one thinking the other has the same concept of marriage, when in fact they don't.

The best thing would be for both spouses to have the same concept of marriage.  Second best would be if each spouse at least understood what their own and what their spouse's concept of it is in order to understand why the other spouses acts the way they do.  It's important to understand too that they themselves don't always know what their own concept of it is, so asking them doesn't always reveal it.  They might answer on way, but their actions and words might indicate something else entirely.

The concept of marriage I have is that of the Catholic Church, at least, what I understand it to be.  There are Catholics who disagree with me.

The idea is that the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity #God who was Himself never created# became a human being... a part of His own creation and He started a Church here on earth which we know He considers His own spouse. The very special unity of Christ and the Church is what we understand marriage to be... Christ #God) as the head, and the Church as the body. Every sacramental union of husband and wife is a visible representation of this, and has the same structure... not because man made it that way, but because God did... with the husband as the head, and the wife as the body. So, in the home, if the husband can be thought of as a king, as Christ is the King of the universe, then the wife would be the queen.

So then, the husband, of course, is responsible for everything that goes on in the house, and everything in it is his. All the work that goes on is his responsibility... but the whole purpose of having a house in the first place is for him to live up to the responsibility he has to provide shelter for his wife and children.

The queen, also, does everything she does not like unmarried people do, splitting chores, etc., just because they have to be done, and somebody has to do them... but doing everything she does for the husband.

Perhaps your problem is, and I'm merely speculating, is that your husband does not get the sense that you are doing everything for him.  Just something to think about.  I hope this helps, and know that I am praying for you.  

Marriage and the Husband-Wife Relationship

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Chris

Expertise

I can answer questions about the sacrament of matrimony from a Catholic perspective.

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I used to have religious vows and I was preparing for the priesthood when I was told my vocation is to the married state. I received the holy sacrament of matrimony in the Catholic Church 15 years ago.

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I went to Catholic High School and then after a two year novitiate, I professed vows in a religious order. I was later told my vocation is in the married state. I've been married now since 1995.

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