I sometimes hear from folks who think that things are lopsided in their marriage. One example is the spouse who thinks that although she values her husband's happiness above her own, he doesn't return the favor. And over time, she has come to believe that he could care less whether her happiness level is high or low. In fact, at times she suspects that he sabotages it.

A wife might complain: "over the course of my marriage, I can probably count on both hands how many times my husband has placed my happiness above his own. I am the exact opposite. I always make sure that I make his favorite meals and give him the best food of the night. I would never take a job in a city that my husband doesn't like. If I notice that something seems to be bothering my husband, then I will always ask him what is wrong and try to make things better for him if I possibly can. If he showed me one-quarter of the concern that I show for his happiness, then things would be fine. I don't expect him to care as much about my happiness as I do for his. But I would like for him to put it somewhere on his list of priorities. Because as it stands, I don't think it matters to him if I'm happy or not. He just took a job in a city that he knows I won't like where I don't know a soul. He knows how important it is for me to have friends. He doesn't encourage me at my job. When I tell him I'd like to try to look for something more challenging and fitting, he tells me that we can't afford for me to quit and then he takes a job without even consulting me. He plans our weekends without any regard to what I might enjoy. This makes me feel unloved. I see so many of my friends who have husbands who occasionally surprise them with small, inexpensive gifts, but my husband would never think of this. It doesn't seem to give him any pleasure to make me happy in the way that it does for my friends' husbands. I am starting to feel unloved and I am starting to believe that he doesn't care if I am in his life or not. On my worst days, I think he sabotages my happiness as a form of pettiness or passive-aggressive punishment or emotional distance. What are you supposed to do when your husband can care less if you are happy or not?"

Before I answer the more direct question, I'd suggest that although you'd love for your husband to notice and prioritize your feelings and your happiness much more, it might be unfair to say that he could absolutely care less about your happiness. I suppose it's possible,  but it would be very untypical. It's also not indicated here as to why the out-of-town job was taken. Because the husband was reluctant to let the wife quit her job, I'd suspect finances were tight, which may have been a huge contributing reason for the husband having to take an out-of-town job. Please know that I'm not defending this husband.  His behavior was certainly insensitive. But sometimes, there are other considerations that must be taken into account to determine what is actually going on in a marriage.

Is He Careless Or Clueless?: Of course, I am just speculating. I don't know this couple. But I do hear from a lot of men in this situation and many will say that they'd like to make their wives happy but they aren't sure how or they are worried that their efforts will be pitiful. In short, they feel they are clueless as to what makes their wife's moods swing one way or another. Some say they feel uncomfortable with being so responsible for someone else's happiness. They will say that she seems sad for reasons that she won't share and that when she is happy, they aren't quite sure what they did right.

By no means am I saying that this is the case here. I have no way to know that. But I think it helps to be aware that many men do care about their wife's happiness but they also feel unequipped to be the one to provide it.

Another option is passive-aggressiveness.  Is he angry or resentful about something that you can address with him? Sometimes, if you remove these obstacles, he will suddenly care about your happiness again because he sees that you care about his.

You Can Provide Yourself With Much Of What You Need: This leads me to my next point. I know that this may not go over very well, but I wouldn't be very helpful if I didn't bring it up. My goal is to help the wife become happier. So I have to mention this. The best way to ensure that you are as happy as you can possibly be is to take responsibility for your own happiness.

Sometimes, you have to be your own advocate. Sometimes you have to experience precisely what you want without thinking about anything or anyone else. This feels very selfish for a lot of people. I can tell you that often, the exact opposite is true. Honestly, most of the time, your husband wants you to be happy and he is INCREDIBLY RELIEVED when you are. In fact, he's so relieved that it doesn't matter to him that you provided it for yourself.

When You Provide Your Own Happiness, You Relieve Some Pressure And Encourage Your Husband To Follow Along:  Do you know what happens when you prioritize your own happiness?  Your husband feels less pressure, so he is more likely to follow along and then make the effort. It's often when you start making yourself happy that you will see him WANTING to make you happy, because you have demonstrated that it is not impossible.

Examples Of Taking Responsibility For Your Own Happiness: What do I mean by taking responsibility for your own happiness? Taking over the weekend plans when there is something you want to do. Putting yourself out there and surrounding yourself with people when you know that friendships are vital to you. And asking yourself what is wrong when you feel down rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

I know that sometimes, we feel that we shouldn't have to do this. We believe that this is what our spouse is for. But our spouse can't read our minds. Only we know what we need. And when we give it to ourselves, we are much happier. This frees up our marriage and eliminates the pressure - which in turn allows our husband to make the little gestures that we've been waiting for.

Honestly, one of the biggest truths that I accepted during my separation was that I was responsible for my own happiness.  This was a major factor in saving my marriage and it has completely changed the course of my separation for the better. You can read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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