Marriages start with a lot of expectations, dreams and plans. We usually fall in love with the person that makes us laugh, holds our hand through tough times and share our vision for the future. But things change with time, as they should – and it is not always a good change. All of the sudden you realize your partner is not a partner anymore. You feel lonely in the relationship and resentful of your spouse and how things have turned out.
Feeling like your spouse doesn’t care about you or the relationship is depressing can be a good reason to consider divorce. If you are still hanging in there…don’t give up! There are ways you can address your problem, but it takes effort from both of you. Even though you might be thinking “I’m doing 100% for this relationship, what else can I do”? You’ve got work to do if you want your marriage to be satisfying again.
What To Do When Your Relationship Is One Sided
Scenario #1: You initiate conversations, intimacy and try to go along to your partners’ activities. If you don’t make the plans it won’t happen. When You ask for feedback and all you get back is “it’s fine”. It is frustrating that your spouse doesn’t pitch in even to tell you what he or she wants.
Solution: As hard as it is to deal with someone that it is not invested in decision-making, many times that person doesn’t even notice that there is a problem. Speak up! Communicate clearly and assertively. Start by making sure you are calm and clear minded before talking about your feelings. Use “I statements” to avoid the blame game by stating what you want and need in non-blaming language. For example: “I feel lonely when you spend your free time with your friends” or “I feel rejected when you don’t engage in a conversation with me”. The key is to own your feelings, be honest and allow the other person to give you feedback. Take ownership of your mistakes and shortcomings too: e.g. “ I was upset and I shouldn’t have ignored you when you came to me”.
Scenario #2: Your spouse is only focused on him or herself when making decisions: While you take into consideration your partner’s preferences and desires, as well as how decisions affect the relationship, your partner makes decisions based on his or her agenda. “Together time” is based around their schedule. What they like to do determines the activities.
Solution: Don’t take it personal. Your spouse might not know how to be in a give-and-take relationship. People learn how to relate to a spouse at home from their parents interactions and some people never had a healthy marriage role model. Their way to behave in a relationship can be based on self-protection, or a self-centered style that focuses on their own needs first. Dr. Matt Townsend, from the Townsend Relationship Center Online, calls these type of people “relationship challenged”. Therefore, looking at your partner as being in need of assistance, rather than believing they are trying to hurt you will help you to have compassion and patience.
More Ways to Deal with Your One Sided Marriage:
1) Lead the way for your spouse to follow: Model for him or her what a healthy relationship looks like. Don’t engage in “cold shoulder”, “stonewalling” and other rejecting coping skills because you feel rejected. All you will be doing is validating that person’s way of interacting with you.
2) Think Win/Win: Conflict resolution needs to be beneficial for both partners. If one partner needs to win, both have already lost. Compromise is important and has to come from both sides.
3) Get support: It is exhausting and emotionally demanding to get your relationship back on track. Get support from empathetic family and friends who will listen when you need a break. A couples’ counselor to help you two improve communication. Also, individual counseling can be a great support to also address your own baggage that can be interfering in your happiness.
Stay strong and don’t give up. Every marriage hits a bump in the road from time to time. Be open and honest with your partner and accept feedback. Keep your focus on the future and leave whatever happen in the past.
About the Author: Patricia Cochran is a marriage counselor with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She is passionate about helping couples and families to feel connected again. In her spare time, she is busy with her toddler and enjoying friends and family time.