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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: My Husband Goes on with His Life, Not Caring about Me

Dear Stavroula,

I feel very frustrated with my relationship with my husband. I am an older woman, married for many years and I hoped that as soon as our children grew up and moved out, my husband would work less and would be interested in my needs. Unfortunately, I was wrong once again. All these years I cared about how I could be the best for him, how I could help him succeed professionally, how he would be better than me. Our children have found their way in life for many years, but he continues the same way of life without caring about me. I am unlucky and wronged in life and not only in my relationship with my husband. I know that people do not change easily, and for me this is my destiny, from a young child to give and not receive anything in return. Can anything change now?

Haroula

Dear Haroula,

Many personal development experts claim that in life we do not get what we deserve but what we ask for. And it is indeed so, unless something tragic happens to us due to factors beyond our control. Because many people feel embarrassed when they need to express what they really feel or want, perhaps because they believe that if this is revealed, others will reject or abandon them. Behind this perception, there may be self-doubt and a strong lack of self-esteem. These people, even if they feel that others are violating their living space, try to avoid conflicts in every possible way, so they often choose not to react and to comply.

Maybe something similar happened in your case. And maybe now that you have realized the problem, it is the right time to solve it. Believing that people do not change will not help you. People change when the right conditions develop and they find help, when they understand what they are doing wrong and what the consequences of their actions are, even if this change comes gradually, in slow steps.

But many times in order for others to change, we must first change ourselves.

So, in order to change your husband's attitude towards you, you must first change yourself and do what you have avoided so far, to claim your wants, needs, and priorities.

The first step is to realize that your own needs are at the same level as the needs of others, and in this case with the needs of your husband.

Although it may seem difficult, it is not impossible and in your endeavor this could be helped by an expert.

It is equally important to clarify what you need until you can bear to claim it. A person who is accustomed to submissive behavior cannot suddenly begin to vigorously claim what he would like, because he may find himself in situations that he will not know how to handle.

But he can change the way he has learned to ask and gradually learn how to move on to assertive behavior.

The first step is to learn to communicate feelings and desires in a clear and unambiguous way. Many times we think that others understand what we are telling them or even worse that they should be able to understand what we want without even expressing it. But the truth is different. When we do not say clearly what we want, we leave room for misunderstandings.

It is also very important to try to express your feelings without criticism and aggression, expressing exactly what you want. For example, you could say, “when you work so many hours for no reason and come home late, I feel lonely and would like to spend more time with you.” And when you want to say "no" again to something your spouse asks for, you should then repeat calmly, and without anger, what you want, until it is understood.

What you need to keep in mind is that in order to be able to claim and gain the respect and love of others, we must first learn to respect and love ourselves.

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