My Husband Never Does Anything Romantic: My Husband Is Not Thoughtful

Most often in a relationship, especially marriage, in order to get what you want you've got to give something too. You'll find that if you make the choice to remain calm, refusing to be drawn into bickering or any type of combat, that you'll have grounds for getting what you want. In this article, I'll give you some techniques for getting exactly what you want out of your marriage. In truth, you won't see any Jedi mind tricks here, or probably anything you haven't already seen, but you'll see tools you may recognize that you can use in your marriage in a way you've probably never considered.

Ask for what you want.

Some spouses entered into marriage believing that their husband or wife would somehow magically or automatically know exactly what his or her needs are, and precisely how to meet them. Even worse, some couples expect their spouse to meet their needs without ever expressing exactly what those needs are. So, my first suggestion is: ask for what you want. And the more specific, the better.

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Give your spouse options.

To be clear, I'm not advocating manipulation or attempting to control your spouse in any way. I'm simply suggesting that there are more constructive ways to interact with your spouse so that you can both get your needs met in a mutually beneficial manner. Say you're discussing where to go to dinner and you hate a certain Italian restaurant that your spouse thinks is nice. You could say something like, "Hey, why don't we try option B or C tonight; which one would you prefer?" With this technique, you're still giving your spouse the choice to decide where to go (options), but you're steering him or her away from a choice that you don't like. Or, better yet, say, "Let's try B or C tonight and then you can choose next week."

Don't get upset if you don't get your way.

If you don't ask for what you want, you've really got no grounds for being upset. Sure, your feelings are always legitimate, but how can your spouse accommodate your needs if he or she doesn't know what they are? If on the other hand, you ask for what you want but don't get it, just let it go. Release the expectation. Don't stuff your emotions, though. Tell your spouse how you feel. In the previous example, you may want to say something like, "I really had my heart set on option B or C, but we can go with D for tonight. I am a bit disappointed, but I know that next time we can go where I'd like to go. How does that sound?" This way you keep the peace, and set up a precedent for getting your needs met or getting you way, if not now, then in the future.

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Do you have individuals in your life who suck the life right out of you or your spouse? While some people make you feel better after contact with them, others leave you feeling drained and exhausted.

How do you know if you've encountered an energy vampire? According to Judith Orloff, M.D., author of Positive Energy, "The tip-off is that even after a brief contact you leave feeling worse, but he or she seems more alive."

This is a different experience than just having "bad chemistry" with another person and not enjoying the interaction. When an energy vampire is present, you'll feel depleted of energy and vitality afterwards.

The ideas Dr. Orloff presents about energy vampires intrigue me, and I believe they have important implications for relationships. As anyone who is striving to have a quality marriage knows, good relationships take lots of time, effort, and energy.

In a busy lifestyle, there's precious little energy that can be wasted without coming up short in some area of your life. For example, if you are more tired than usual, you may have difficulty in mustering the energy to exercise or prepare a healthy dinner.

Eventually, not taking care of yourself in a nurturing way will show up in your marriage. Maybe you'll be more stressed and less patient as a result. Likewise, if you're exhausted from an encounter with an "energy vampire" friend who depletes your energy, you won't have as much pep and enthusiasm to put into enjoying quality time with your partner.

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Marriages are impacted by outside factors such as needs and requests of family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances. There's not time or energy to try to meet all of everyone else's expectations or wants.

Daily life offers the challenge of setting priorities and boundaries so that you can focus on what's most important to you. And for many people, their marriage and relationship with their spouse and children is what's most important.

Anyone who drains you or your spouse's vitality and makes you feel worse after talking or being with them is someone who has the potential to negatively affect the energy available in your marriage. It's not a casual, insignificant thing for a spouse to have an "energy vampire" friend who is a large part of his or her life. If energy is being consistently drained from you or your spouse, your relationship will suffer.

Dr. Orloff describes nine types of energy vampires. I want to focus on five of those. See if you recognize anyone you know in the following descriptions.

Energy Vampire #1 is the Sob Sister. This person is a whiner, a perpetual victim, who loves a captive audience and can talk for hours about her problems.

If you offer a solution, she gives a "Yes, but" answer that gives an excuse for why your solution won't work in her case. Dr. Orloff says, "You might find yourself listening for hours, hearing the same complaints over and over. She ends up renewed. You're exhausted."

Energy Vampire #2 is the Blamer. This person makes you feel guilty, berates you, and casts negativity into your energy field. He's more overtly angry than the Sob Sister, and he uses accusation to drain you. Dr. Orloff says, "You walk away feeling knifed, that you haven't lived up to expectations, are somehow defective."

One of the statements a Blamer might make is "If it weren't for you, we wouldn't be in this mess" or "It's your fault that I'm on drugs." It takes agility and planning to deflect a blamer's tactics.

Energy Vampire #3 is the Drama Queen. This person has a real flair for exaggeration, for going from crisis to crisis, and for being energized by chaos. One of her characteristic opening statements is some variation of "Oh my God, you'll never guess what happened!"

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Dr. Orloff says, "The roller-coaster antics of a drama queen put you on overload and wipe you out." Her "in-your-face" intensity can make you feel burned out in no time flat.

Energy Vampire #4 is the Constant Talker or Joke-teller. This person always demands center stage and has absolutely no interest in what you're feeling. At first, he (or she) might seem entertaining, but you soon begin to fade after non-stop stories, jokes, and comments and the incessant self-focus.

According to Dr. Orloff, these energy vampires "grind our energy field down like a relentless yippy chihuahua who badly needs a walk." It's impossible to sneak a word in edge-wise, and they love to trap you in conversation where it's hard to break away.

Energy Vampire #5 is the Fixer-Upper. There are two types. Dr. Orloff writes that the first type of fixer-upper "makes you into her therapist. At all hours she calls desperate to have you fix her problems, unlike the Sob Sister who simply complains." She sucks you in because you care, want to lessen her pain, and be a good friend.

The second type of fixer-upper is, according to Dr. Orloff, "someone who you perceive needs an overhaul, and you take him on as a project." What you don't realize is that he isn't really interested in changing. You may even put your life on hold to help him "realize his potential," but in spite of all your efforts, it never happens.

So what can you do if your marriage is being harmed by an energy vampire? Dr. Orloff's book has a number of invaluable recommendations for how to combat energy vampires and preserve your individual vitality.

The following are my recommendations for protecting your marital relationship:

1. Do an energy assessment of who energizes you and who drains you in your life. Who makes you feel better after a conversation and who leaves you feeling worse off? Who makes unreasonable demands on your time and reduces the time and energy you have to give to your spouse and children?

2. Develop strategies to lessen your contact with the energy vampires in your life. If you can't end all contact, then brainstorm about creative ways to minimize your exposure to these people and set boundaries about how much time you'll invest. For example, if your long-time friend is a Sob Sister, decide how long you'll listen before ending the conversation.

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3. Initiate a conversation with your mate about how you've been evaluating where you're currently spending your time and energy because you value your marriage and want to have a quality relationship. Say that you know that means you need to be careful not to waste valuable time or energy in ways that aren't satisfying or beneficial. Your sharing of what you're doing may encourage her (or him) to do the same.

4. If you are concerned because you see your spouse's time and energy being depleted by energy vampires in his (or her) life, and he doesn't seem to realize it or isn't willing to address the issue, you might suggest doing some sessions with a marriage counselor.

Say that you're finding some feelings building up that you want to discuss with your spouse in a counseling session so they won't cause problems in the future. Call it "relationship housecleaning" and keep the emphasis on yourself as the one needing help in handling some things. That will make it more likely that your spouse will be willing to go to counseling with you.

5. If you find that you're having difficulty in handling the energy vampires in your life, consider doing some individual counseling sessions to examine why you're reluctant to draw boundaries, to say "no," or to forfeit your role as perennial "nice guy."

You may need to look at issues such as why you're trying so hard to fix someone else and ignoring your own needs or why you're listening to a whiner for hours on the phone when you really want to be relaxing and enjoying your evening.

Ultimately, it's up to you to set your priorities and then take the appropriate action to keep focused on your life goals and values. And that means protecting yourself from energy vampires so that your marriage can have the energy it needs to thrive.

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Do you really trust your spouse? Does your spouse trust you? These are very difficult questions for many spouses. On the other hand some spouses blatantly let their spouse know how they feel about this marriage problem. We have discovered that if trust is lacking in a marriage the love and commitment that should be present are either absent or strained.

Let us consider these two points:

1. So A Man Thinketh, So Is He: In the story above we see where John did not trust Mary because of what had happened with his parents. However, if you are with your spouse and you see someone who looks better than you, do you feel threatened? Do you worry that he may take a look at her and fall for her or she may steal him away? Well, you may fall in the same batch of people who do not trust their spouse. Think about this, maybe the reason you think these things is because that is what you would do or want to do. A lot of the times the husband cheats on the wife and turns around suspecting the wife of unfaithfulness. As the saying goes, "so a man thinketh, so is he". The bible also advises that it is from the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. Therefore, it is within us before it comes out.

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2. Trust Is A Two Way Street: If love is the currency in marriage, trust is the wallet to carry it around. When you have money you put it in your wallet or purse. So it is with love; when you love you should want to trust the one you love. There is nothing more stressful than a spouse who does not trust his or her partner. Every action or word would be dissected to figure out if there is any infidelity. Trust has to go both ways. You cannot expect to pick yourself up everyday, do your own thing, come in late at nights, go out on weekends without your spouse and not communicate your whereabouts, but expect your spouse to trust you. Then when he or she does the same thing you are upset and start to have doubts about his or her fidelity. While you have to learn to trust your spouse, you must always give them the reason to trust you. Mark and I know our every move. This is something we communicate before leaving out in the mornings. Actually we plan our week's schedule together and on weekends we are usually together doing things alone or with friends. Mark would make fun of me for always saying, "So, what's the plan". Now, that is his favorite phrase. Because the two of us are one, we share everything and there does not need to be any secrets.

No one can experience a healthy and fulfilling marriage if there is mistrust. If you do not have a legitimate reason to mistrust your spouse, then this is an area in your marriage that you need to overcome. If not, you will be plagued with a host of marriage problems and divorce could be one of them.

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How good is the quality of your marriage right now? Your answer will depend in large part on the quality of the habits you and your spouse practice.

We are all creatures of habit. Habits are those patterns of behavior that you've learned to the point where they are automatic and unconscious. The tone of your marriage is largely set by habitual ways you and your spouse think and behave with each other.

Have you ever stopped to really look at the habits you use in relating to your spouse? Probably not, unless someone has asked you this question before. Most of us behave on automatic pilot, without taking time to consider if we should do things differently.

Think about it. What is your automatic reaction when you disagree with something your spouse says? How does he (or she) normally respond when he gets angry with you? Do you use sarcasm or put downs? Or do you typically listen with respect, even when you disagree? Do you criticize your spouse often? Or do you focus on what he's doing right and compliment him for it?

Whatever exactly happens in your marriage, you'll notice that certain patterns are repeated over and over again. The habits that you and your spouse have adopted play a major role your relationship and can determine its ultimate success or failure. The good habits can affirm and sustain your marriage; bad habits can destroy it.

The good news is that even if your marriage is going downhill, or it's not where you'd like it to be, chances are it could be improved by reevaluating the habits you and your spouse have adopted in relating to each other.

You've heard the saying "What goes around comes around?" In Eastern philosophy, it's known as the Law of Karma. It basically says that you get what you sow.

This is true in a marriage as well. Regarding habits, this means that if you can identify and work on changing your own habits that cause disharmony and conflict in your marriage into ones that engender love and respect, your spouse will be more likely to respond in kind.

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You can start doing three things to strengthen marriage-enriching habits:

1. Make goodwill deposits. The idea here is that couples have emotional "bank accounts" with each other.

Whenever you do something nice for your partner you are making a goodwill deposit with that person. But when you do something irritating you are making a goodwill withdrawal.

Deposits can be strokes of affection, a gesture of respect, an acknowledgement for something the other has done, or a sincere compliment to the other person.

2. Chose alternate words. When you're angry with your spouse, substitute "I" statements for "you" statements.

For example, instead of saying "You make me furious when you come home late," say "I get furious when I have dinner waiting and don't know that you're going to be late."

"You" statements come across as more accusing and attacking. When you choose "I" statements instead, you are taking full responsibility for your feelings. You do less harm to the relationship by avoiding personal attacks on your spouse.

3. Take responsibility for your part in any conflict. Say the words "I'm sorry for my part in what happened" whenever you have a chance to make up after a fight.

Whatever the situation, in saying these words, you acknowledge that every argument has two sides and that each of you share the responsibility for what happens in the marriage. Humility goes a long way in patching things up.

Even if your partner doesn't take responsibility for his (or her) part in things, set a healthy example by your actions.

The simple act of being open to changing your own habitual behavior requires courage. But the rewards can be substantial.

You may find the quality of your marriage spirals upward to heights you never imagined. And while forming better relationship habits takes some effort, the results feel so good that they become addictive.

You condition yourself and you condition the relationship itself in a way that becomes habit forming when it feels that good.

The following passage by an anonymous author expresses the enormous power of the habits in your life:

"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly.

I am easily managed -- you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being. You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin -- it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I am habit."

Saying or doing the wrong thing can actually cause your spouse to feel even more distant from you. You can make your spouse fall back in love with you, all over again.

You don't have to worry about whether your spouse is on the brink of asking you for a divorce. You can control the situation and use specific techniques to naturally make them fall hopelessly in love with you.

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