Dear Dr. Yael:
After two years of marriage I can honestly say it is not what I thought it would be. While things started out smoothly, I feel as if my marriage could be better.
Let me explain: I want my husband to compliment the dinners I prepare or something nice that I did for him, but it does not happen very often. I also wish my husband would understand me better. After all, we have been together for two years. Shouldn’t he know who I am and what I need? Perhaps this is unrealistic, but I always dreamed of having a good marriage. Lately, though, I feel as if we are struggling. We do not have a bad marriage; rather it is more of an OK marriage, falling short of my expectations.
I feel insecure about my appearance since the birth of our first child, and since I am always tired, I know that my mood is not always great. This does not make it any easier on my husband. I am trying hard to be a good wife – and I want to be appreciated for my efforts. I also wish to improve our communication, but do not know how to go about making these changes. I want to fix things before they worsen – and, chas v’shalom, get out of hand. We used to have a spark in our marriage, but since our baby was born things have dimmed.
How can I better convey my feelings to my husband and feel more secure? What can I do to get the spark back?
A New Mom Wishing to Reignite the Spark
Dear New Mom:
Thank you for your honest letter. You seem to be a very insightful young woman who understands that marriage is not easy.
As you insinuated, marriage is hard work and not always fun and exciting. And having children definitely changes the marriage dynamic. Both parents are usually sleep deprived and a new mother’s hormones are often raging, making for a complicated mix. Thus the first thing I would recommend is for you and your husband to create extra time for yourselves. Going out together will do wonders for that dimmed spark, as you will be able to just enjoy each other’s company without all of life’s daily distractions. Make sure to keep things light when you’re out together, and maximize that limited time by participating in fun and mutually enjoyable activities.
Also, dress up if it makes you feel more attractive. That will go a long way toward making your husband feel special. Remind him how special you would feel if he expressed his appreciation for your efforts to look your best for him. Hopefully he’ll remember to compliment you when you go out, starting the night on the right foot. Dressing up to look your best may also help put the spark back into your marriage, as your self-esteem will rise when your husband sees the “old you.” This can kick-start his attraction to you.
It is very important to communicate your feelings in a relaxed atmosphere. While it is not easy for a wife to talk to her husband about her insecurities and overall feelings, sharing them will accomplish two very important things. First, by sharing your intimate feelings with your husband, the two of you will immediately feel closer to each other. This closeness will help build a stronger relationship.
Second, you will be helping your husband understand your current needs and why his usual “thanks for dinner, what’s for dessert?” is not the most appreciated response. Once you express your feelings, the two of you can devise a game plan for the future. Perhaps you can create a secret word that will serve as a reminder to him that you need his warmth and compliments while reminding you to not be moody or oversensitive.
The two of you should pay three compliments a day to each other, making both of you feel better about your relationship. While this may seem superficial, it will help you get back into the habit and go a long way in making you both feel more special. Being mutually positive and complimentary will then become second nature.Dr. Yael Respler
About the Author: Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to email@example.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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