I sometimes hear from people who feel desperately unappreciated by their spouse. At first, they will sometimes try to tell themselves that they are expecting too much or being too needy. But, with time, when it doesn't ever get any better, it starts to wear on you. And you begin to wonder if your life might be better alone or with someone else who at least noticed and appreciated you a little more. It gets old to feel so lonely all of the time. 

An example of a comment that you might hear is something like: "sometimes, I feel as if I am invisible to my husband. I feel like I am just the woman who he expects to make his meals, clean his clothes, and keep up with his children. In truth, any woman could do this. I would be totally replaceable. All he needs is a cook, a maid, and a chauffeur and he wouldn't need me at all. My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and he forgot it. I had a doctor's appointment last month and I asked him to pick up the kids one time out of a million and he forgot. I had to leave my doctor's appointment to pick them up. He never tells me that he loves me. He only shows me affection when I shame him into it. He just doesn't see me and he certainly doesn’t appreciate me in any capacity. I'm considering leaving him. I don't want to live as if I am the invisible woman. Is being appreciated too much to ask? When I try to discuss this with my husband, he makes me feel as if I'm being petty. He says a middle-aged woman should not need this much attention and he says he doesn't ask this of me. But the thing is, I do show him appreciation, so he wouldn't need to ask. This all makes me so sad. It wasn't always this way. My husband actually used to be sweet. But not anymore. I don't know how much more I can take of this marriage."

When There Is A Positive History, It Doesn't Make Sense To Throw Everything Away Without A Fight: I didn't think that this wife was asking too much at all. One of the reasons that people get married is because they want someone with whom they can be happy and they want to be able to give and take affection and appreciation. And when this doesn't happen, we want to be able to discuss this with our spouse and get some satisfaction. When none of this is happening, then you have every right to be frustrated.

With that said, I'm not sure that you should leave your husband unless this is the last resort. The wife hadn't mentioned counseling or any other attempt to ease into any change other than to attempt to discuss her anger with her husband. And, when he had resisted her and tried to make her feel guilty for bringing it up, then she hadn't broached the topic again.

I don't think it would be a bad idea to give it one more try. And if that doesn't work, I'd personally seek some professional help by finding a compassionate counselor. And here is why I feel this way. The wife had admitted that things were different early in their marriage. That meant that at his core, the husband wasn't a bad person and he had it in him to be sweet, appreciative, and affectionate. This gave me hope that once the wife made her needs understood (and once whatever issues in their marriage that were contributing to the disconnect were addressed,) she might see glimpses of the sweet husband that she used to have. And as someone who has been separated, I can tell you that it's very painful to live without your husband, even an imperfect one. I appreciated him much more after I got him back. More on  that here.)

A Conversation (With Specifics) To Consider: I would suggest setting the scene with a comment like: "do you have a minute? I'd like to talk to you about something that is important to me. I don't want you to hear what I am about to say and think that I am whining because I'm not. But I need you to show me some more appreciation. I am your wife, but sometimes I feel as though I'm not being treated in that way. I don't feel like someone who you truly value and cherish. Sometimes, I feel more like the hired help. I'm not saying that you are doing this to be mean or that this is your intention. I am just telling you that I need to feel more appreciated. And I'll be more specific. I need you to notice all of the things that I do. I need you to occasionally do things to let me know that you are grateful for what I do. I'd also like for you to follow through when you tell me that you will do something. I don't expect overnight changes, but I do want to see an effort. I'd be more than happy to listen to any requests that you have of me. I'd very much like it if we could both be more considerate and loving toward one another. I miss the way that we used to be. Don't you?"

(Notice that I included specifics.  Why? Because husbands often need you to spell it out.  Appreciation isn't always intuitive to them. Sometimes, you will need to tell him exactly what you want.)

Don't be surprised if your husband has his own requests. Much of the time, people begin to take one another for granted or fail to show their appreciation when the marriage has begun to go a little stale. But often, if you can restore communication and get the spark back, you will often notice those playful little aspects of your relationship that you remember longingly from your early days.

But to answer the initial question, I don't think that wanting appreciation is being selfish or needy. We ALL want to be seen. I think that showing appreciation is an essential part of a healthy marriage. With that said, I'm not sure that I would leave my husband before I gave him every opportunity to make an improvement, even with counseling if necessary.

My own husband didn't feel appreciated in our marriage and he did leave.  We had a lot of work to do before he would come back. Because he had no interest in me for quite some time. It took multiple strategies to get him interested in me again.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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