The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." In a friendship, people are much less likely to take the other person for granted. For example, if your friend paid the note on your car every month, you'd likely be overcome with gratitude. When it's your husband, however, the tendency is to expect these actions, which can lead to hard feelings within a marriage. If you've caught yourself under-appreciating your husband, a sincere apology can help to move your marriage along in the right direction.
Tell your husband you're aware that you've been taking him for granted. Taking this first step lets him know that you value him and his contributions to the family and recognize your shortcomings. Talk to him at a time when he is relaxed and has time for a conversation.
Listen to his feelings if he chooses to express them. Don't become drawn into an argument if he expresses anger or another feeling you're uncomfortable with. Rephrase what he says so that he knows you are really hearing him. For example, if he says, "I wake up every night with the kids and still have to go to work in the morning, and you don't ever thank me," say something like, "You must be really tired in the mornings, and not having your efforts recognized just makes it harder." Resist the urge to defend yourself with a comment like, "I get up with the baby as well, and what do you think I do all day, watch television?", as this will shift the focus to yourself and dilute your apology.
Provide an example. You might say, "I didn't realize how much work you do on the yard until you went on your business trip. Without your efforts, it looked completely unkempt within a week."
Let your husband know that you're aware your behavior was wrong, advises psychologist John Grohol in a PsychCentral.com article. Doing so indicates sincerity, and may help your husband to forgive you. Say, "I'm sorry that I didn't even notice that you've taken my car to get the oil changed for an entire year. It was wrong of me to be so focused on my own life that I didn't see the effort you were going to on my behalf."
Take action to atone for your having taken his contributions for granted, says Grohol. If you've been running up the credit cards while he works hard to pay the bills, return some of your purchases and take a part-time job to pay off the cards. Action is much more important than words, and your reparations will show him that you are truly sorry for not considering his needs.
Stop yourself from taking your husband for granted in the future by making a plan to let him know you appreciate him. In an article in "Psychology Today," physician and author Alex Lickerman writes that consistency "is best accomplished through habit rather than willpower." Make it a habit to do things that show your husband how much you value his presence in your life. Bring him coffee in bed before he heads to work or keep the kids from waking him up on a weekend morning so he can sleep late. Once you've grown used to one habit, add a new one that further demonstrates your appreciation.
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