What are some things you can do to improve the atmosphere in your marriage? What are the little things that count when trying to seek happiness between the two of you? Here are some ideas for what you can do.
Remember why you’re still here: In a PA relationship, it can be extremely hard to remember why you’re sticking it out and staying with your husband. You need to remind yourself of his good qualities (the things he does right rather than the things he does wrong). Try this: every day, write down two or three things that he’s done lately that you appreciate, or qualities you love about him, or memories that make you happy. It can help boost your perception of him and bring positive energy back into your interactions. When he’s trying to use PA behavior with you, these positive things will help you focus on using your own techniques, instead of breaking down.
Show him you still care: Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day that we need to show our spouses some love. Reading our blog has hopefully taught you the wounds and fears underlying your husband’s use of PA behaviors. Sometimes, what works best to counteract his behavior is to simply show him that he doesn’t need to fear your rejection. You can write him little notes by the coffee maker, or greet him warmly at the door, or even play with him and tickle him like you do with the kids. These are the kinds of things that make you feel refreshed and positive (you're focusing on loving him instead of fighting him) while also soothing the voice inside him that's asking, “Does she still want me?”
Ask for feedback: This one might be hard for you, and you may want to practice doing the others first. But it can be extremely beneficial for both of you, as a sort of icebreaker, to simply ask your husband how he feels about your treatment of him. Ask him, “How do you know that I love you?” or “Did I make you feel that I didn’t love when I said that?” These questions may sound like something you’d ask your child when he or she is upset, but guess what? It works the same way. It helps both of you to understand each other’s communication and perceptions better, while the simple questions offer a less confrontational outlet for your husband’s true feelings.
You can get more tips for improving your marital happiness by talking one-on-one with our Conflict Coach.