Written by Donald Goodman, LCSW
Working in suburbia, where high priority is placed on family, I’ve been given the task of continually trying to find ways for marriages to remain intact and discover tools couples can utilize in that endeavor. The biggest challenge is addressing the disconnect between partners. Many couples have made the difficult decision for the mother to give up her career to raise the children, while other mother’s try to balance work with parenting, continually feeling like they’re drowning. In both situations, the mother often feels inadequate and lacks the support of her spouse. He either doesn’t talk at all or only shares about his day then retires to the remote control until he crashes on the couch. After working with these men year after year, it’s obvious that something isn’t working but they’re not as disinterested and unconcerned as their counterparts feel they are. They feel like they’ve tried to be supportive, but lack the skills to connect to their partner and it leaves them feeling hopeless, frequently give up. This can go on for years until one day some type of real challenge exposes their disconnect (and it will).
So what should you do?
Although not the entire solution, I recommend that men always ask their partner about her day first, explore that fully, give advice when necessary and take interest in what she values however trivial it may seem to you. My belief is that while it may be uninteresting at times, it’s incredibly valuable to understand your partner’s world. In time, you’ll come to appreciate the connection. As a reward, you’ll often feel the stress relief of losing yourself in her world and forgetting about the stress of yours that will be there tomorrow. When it’s your turn to share about something significant, she’ll feel connected and understood. When she’s been refueled, she’ll have more to give you and she’ll want to give it to you in the way you desire.
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