It's been a long day and you both just climbed in bed - exhausted.
You wish she would snuggle up, cuddle, and initiate sex, and yet she is totally oblivious to your needs. She has had a long day and in her mind, all is well, and it's time for sleep.
You share the normal goodnight-peck-of-a-kiss, say, "I love you," and roll over - not even touching. A hundred thoughts start 5 rolling through your head - thoughts she knows nothing about - mostly complaints about things you wish she would do or not do, and ways that she isn't meeting your needs.
You start to think, "Doesn't she even care? Can't she tell that I need her?"
Without realizing it, complaints like the ones below immediately start to form a mental list in your head - a list that immediately makes you feel like your marriage is dying and your spouse needs to change. You are feeling frustrated and maybe a bit hopeless. You are discouraged and frustrated, and yet you haven't said anything to your wife because she is already almost asleep.
(Now, this situation can go both ways, so the list below can be applied to thoughts either a husband or wife may have on a night like the one mentioned above.)
Thoughts that may start to form in your mind when you feel like your needs aren't being met...
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Now, if you let the above thoughts fester, you could quickly start to threaten the health and happiness of your relationship.
Because what you don't realize is that by thinking only of yourself, you are allowing selfishness to creep in.
In the scenario above, your sweet wife had ZERO clue that you were feeling so neglected. Now, your needs and complaints shouldn't just be brushed off (there is a time and place to bring them up and address them), but what you don't realize is that it is ALL TOO EASY to become quite critical and upset about your spouse and your marriage when you are just aching for a little love and affection.
So, what do you do when you feel like your spouse isn't meeting your immediate and urgent needs and longings?
Here are four things that may help you out when you start to feel this way. (Especially late at night.)
1. Stop thinking negative thoughts.
Just stop. Stop creating a list of where your partner falls short. Once you start writing that list in your head, it is pretty easy to think of way too many things your spouse does wrong, and then to start to wonder why you even married him or her in the first place. Letting criticism into your marriage is pretty dangerous, so please - just stop.
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2. Start creating a mental list of all the things you love about that husband or wife of yours.
Just do it. Think about everything you love about your husband or wife. Think about what they have accomplished, what their greatest gifts and abilities are, small ways they have been thoughtful and selfless towards you, your favorite memories together, and all the little things he or she does to bless your life. Remember all the reasons you love that spouse of yours, and remember how lucky you are that he or she is still by your side (Since you aren't perfect yourself, you know!).
3. Do something to show care and concern for your spouse.
That's right, forget about yourself for a moment and find a way to do something to check in with your spouse and with his or her needs. It will take maturity and a bit of a kick in the pants, but you have it in you to forget about yourself in this moment. Perhaps you can roll over and kiss your spouse ten times and then smother him or her with love. Or perhaps you can just roll over and says "thanks," accompanied by a hug and some cuddling, with plans to do something small for him or her in the morning.
Whatever you choose, find a way to turn your focus from yourself and your needs to your spouse and his or her needs.
What you may have forgotten in your moment of loneliness and longing for love is that your spouse has needs too, and perhaps you aren't doing as well as you think at meeting his or her needs.
Choosing to focus on your spouse instead of yourself will immediately fill your heart with love, and with encouraging thoughts about the state of your marriage relationship and how good things really are.
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4. Start a new day with a fresh perspective, a heart full of love, and a willingness to appreciate your marriage for what it is.
The happiness level of your marriage is largely up to you. Your choice to see the good, focus on meeting your spouse's needs, and be optimistic and grateful will go a long way in nurturing a healthy relationship. The marriages that come closest to "perfect marriages," are really, in essence, happy marriages. Happy marriages grow and are nurtured through small acts of selflessness, kindness, affection, gratitude, and love. Happy marriages most often come from happy people - people who choose to be happy and see the good no matter what.
So, when morning rolls around, start the day off right. Greet your spouse with a two-minute hug, and check in to see how he or she is really doing. Find small ways to serve your spouse, or to connect, throughout the day. As you focus on your spouse and on how you can nurture your marriage, you will find that your negative thoughts from the night before have drifted far, far away (which is where they belong).
Now, attitude and perspective won't fix all marital problems, but there really is something magical about turning off the pity party and focusing on your spouse instead of on yourself.
He or she has needs and longings for attention, affection, and love, just as you do.
There is a time and a place to address the complaints that may be hurting your relationship, but more often than not, simply choosing to focus on the good in your spouse and on meeting his/her needs can turn things around pretty quickly. This doesn't mean that this is the simple answer to all of your marital problems, but it does offer you a solution that you can be responsible for - something you can do to make things better.
So, start where you can, and nurture your marriage a little at a time.
By remembering what you love about your spouse and finding ways to bring happiness to him or her, you will have figured out one of the greatest secrets of happily ever after = forgetting self and focusing on serving and lifting your spouse. By focusing on your spouse, you may invite the very connection, affection and love that you seek from him or her, as well.
So, take the higher road and don't let late-night negative thoughts invite selfishness to take over. You've got this.
Photo Credit: Jason Corey Photography
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“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
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