You don’t bring me flowers anymore.
Your neighbour’s husband surprised her with a weekend getaway for her birthday. Sans kids. Your best friend’s husband gave her a necklace engraved with their children’s names for Valentine’s day. Your husband? He can barely look up from his phone during dinner and you can’t remember the last time he came home hiding a bouquet behind his back. You can finally relate to the music your Mom used to listen to when you were a kid. And you don’t like it.
Lower the bar.
Sure, we all want perfection. But nobody is perfect: not your spouse, not your kids, not even you. Freezing him out does nothing to improve the situation, especially because he won’t even notice since your kids are always so LOUDLY clamouring for his attention.
Before doing anything else, figure out if your grievances are justified. We’re all about lovin’ whatcha got but there is a limit. Bully bosses are bad enough, don’t sell yourself short with a spouse who’s a bully too. Cheating, lying, and even disrespecting are all grounds for therapy and yup, maybe even splitsville. So it goes without saying that physical abuse is COMPLETELY off the table. But we said it anyway. It’s that important.
Once you’ve thought about all the dealbreakers and realized he’s not guilty of any of them, it’s time to reassess. For example, was he really not thinking about you on your birthday or are you just PO’d because he didn’t buy you what you wanted? And, if he didn’t surprise you with the right “surprise”, was it because you replied “I don’t know,” or, “Anything’s fine,” when he actually asked what to get? Give him some credit! He thought you’d love that gym membership because he was paying attention when you said you want to start working out again. He really wasn’t dropping hints that you need to lose weight. You didn’t fall in love with an idiot or a mind-reader, so stop playing the miscommunication game. Multiple miscommunications turn into a grudge-match, which can turn into a full-fledged War of the Roses. Instead, decide if your better half is still as awesome as the day you met him when he set those butterflies in your stomach aflutter. If the answer is yes, recognize that he’s not crashing on the couch to ignore you, he just had a really tough day and needs to chill out. Bring him a beer and he’ll think you’re the best wife EVER. And what goes around comes around.
Sound unrealistic? As with everything we write about, we speak from experience. My hubby is allergic to flowers (no, really, he’s fragrant sensitive – even deodorant sets him into hyper-sneeze mode), typically works late on Valentine’s Day (make that most days), goes into panic mode the night before my birthday after all the stores have closed, and has never bought me a diamond. In fact, the closest he’s come to buying me jewellery is a barrette – back in the days when he was trying to woo me. Romantic, right? But he gives me sentimental cards on those special days, makes me breakfast every morning, does the dishes when I ignore the disaster zone of a kitchen, and still makes me swoon when he serenades me with his guitar. In short, he’s the exact same person I fell in love with. And here’s to looking on the bright side: I never stress about a present for him, when he works late I don’t have to cook and the kids get excited about breakfast for dinner, and while I do sometimes drop hints about A NEW LAPTOP (subtle?), I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t splurge when I check the credit card statement each month.
Focus on the important stuff and ignore the rest. Just because he’s not buying you extravagant tokens of his affection doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about you… and isn’t that really the point? Besides, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and that couple you’re envying today may be signing divorce papers tomorrow. So turn Neil and Barbra off, do something nice for your spouse, and start singing a different tune. Mick said it best: If you try sometimes, you just might find you’ll get what you need!