by Dr. Lorin Bradbury
Question: My wife treats me as though she really doesn’t like me. I don’t know what I have done wrong. When we first married, she treated me well, and I really felt respected. Any suggestions?
The first thing I would ask you to do would be to go back to a time when things were going well between you and your wife. Then list what was different at that time. What were you doing different that contributed to your wife treating you well and respecting you?
Your attitude is key to rekindling the flame of romance. If you greet your wife day after day with complaints and criticism, it won’t be much fun being around you. All of us have troubling experiences at work, and it’s so easy to carry those troubles home. Sometimes, it seems necessary to use our wives as sounding boards, and on occasion that may be OK. But to continually gripe about everything from your boss to the fingermarks on the walls, to the toys strewn around the living room, gets old. Soon she will not look forward to you coming home. It will be more pleasant with you away.
I once heard of a man who brought a friend home one night. Before entering the house, he went through a most unusual ritual. There was a bush growing just outside his front door. Before entering the house, he appeared to be picking things off himself and hanging them on the bush. His friend enquired, and learned that this was a trouble bush. Before entering his home each evening, he picked all the troubles from his day off him and hung them on the bush. Just as he informed his friend, the troubles would hang on the bush throughout the night, and if he really wanted to, he could pick them up in the morning on the way to work.
So listen to yourself, and hear what you say. It’s better to keep your words sweet, kind, wonderful because tomorrow you may have to eat them. It’s also a lot more pleasant to be around a person who speaks positive words. Make it a practice to eliminate critical, negative talk from your vocabulary.
Even if you are not critical or negative, it’s important to connect with your wife when you first meet at the end of the day. Some men feel the need to withdraw for a period of time after work, before talking to their wives. A little energy spent connecting immediately following a period of separation will pay great dividends.
Years ago, I was pastoring a church, working as a health aide, and on the school board. My wife complained that I was never home. One day I noticed on the side of the refrigerator was a chart on which she was keeping track of how much time I was home. In truth, I was home more than she claimed, but I might as well have remained at work.
When I came home, I plunked down on the couch, picked up a news magazine, and answered my wife’s questions with grunts from behind the magazine. After several attempts, her questions ceased, and I proceeded to relax. When I got up from my relaxing and went over to wrap my arms around her, she was no longer interested in talking.
Eventually, I learned that if I dialogued for a few minutes about her day, the kids, and etc., she was happy, and I could do whatever I wanted for the evening. It’s really quite simple; take a few minutes to connect immediately at the end of each day.
I don’t know what your perspective is on leadership in the home, but if you want to be the head of the home, take the lead. Court her like you did before you were married. Court her like you want to win her. It will likely be more difficult now, but it’s worth the effort. Be creative, and make her feel like the most important person in the world.
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]