Articles by Jacqueline McDiarmid, Couple's counselling

Do you feel cared for by your partner?

“My partner doesn’t care enough about me”

 

Consider this situation:

James is a busy manager looking after a team of 25 at his company. He is married to Sarah and they share three young children. James has a very stressful position and most of his time is spent ensuring his staff is productive. He is known as a supportive boss who always makes time for his employees. This means he frequently has to stay back at work. He often comes home telling Sarah about the advice and support he is giving one of his employees who sometimes attempts to contact him outside work hours.

Sarah is a full-time stay-at-home mother. She meets with other mothers once or twice a week. She attends to her children emotionally as well as physically, always ensuring every need is met. On top of this she is a very good friend and will call, message and meet up with friends who need her support and advice. Sometimes she is texting friends late into the night.

James and Sarah are very busy people. And very busy parents. They both pride themselves on both being empathic, supportive and kind to those they love and care about. This is good.

But what about each other?

A common complaint I hear in couples counselling is that people feel like their partner is more supportive and has more time to listen to work colleagues or friends than them. The complaint is that the partner doesn’t get the same amount of energy or care that they perceive their partner is giving out to others. They don’t feel like their partner cares or respects them like they do other people. Resentments and hurt easily build.

 We so easily forget to “see” our partner.

To read the signals that they need extra help or care. Or to make the time to listen intently like we would if we were meeting a friend or a colleague. Sometimes we simply forget to be kind to our partner.

Here are 10 tips to bring the attention back to your partner:
  1. Put technology away when you arrive home. Stop checking your emails and social media and instead sit down with your partner and ask them how they are. Or even have a laugh with them. Just focus on them.
  1. Ask your partner what they are doing today and how they are feeling about the day. Follow this up at the end of the day. Don’t go to bed without doing this.
  1. Notice if your partner becomes stressed or unhappy. Ask them what is going on. This will not make the problem worse. If the problem is there, then the feelings will be there anyway. Asking your partner about it will show you care.
  1. Listen without offering solutions. So many people say to me in marriage counselling “I just want him/her to listen to me, I don’t want to hear solutions”. This is because a lot of the time when partners offer solutions the other person is left feeling criticised or stupid.
  1. Empathise as much as you can. Again this means not always offering solutions but listening and reflecting back to your partner what you think they might be feeling.
  1. Make regular time to catch up and talk about each other’s goals and dreams. Support each other’s dreams.
  1. When you see each other at the end of a day, greet each other like a long lost and very much loved friend. Most couples tell me they wish for a hug or some other expression that their partner is happy to see them. If you are struggling with this – look at the way a dog greets an owner on their return.
  1. Put boundaries on the amount of support and care you give out to others. For example, keep work colleague support within work time and hours. And don’t allow friendship dramas to bleed into your relationship time.
  1. If you attend an event or social occasion without your partner, come home at the agreed time. Message your partner if you are going to be late.
  1. Little things like making a meal or attending an appointment with your partner all send a message that your partner is important and top of mind.

If you think your relationship could benefit from some marriage counselling or couples’ therapy, please get in touch with one of our Sydney Couple and Family Specialists. We are here to help you both. Contact us today on 02 8968 9397.

 

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