In our last Monthly Membership Call, titled “Random Acts of Kindness,” we encountered a pretty tough question – and when that happens, we feel it’s important to pull that information together and present it here. After all, if the question seems tough to us, we can only assume that it’s a problem other people might be struggling with – and we want to help!
Kindness manifests itself in many ways, and a lack of kindness can be displayed through short tempers, disdain, and talking down to others. One of the most common “kindness-shortage” behaviors, however, is selfishness.
Our caller said:
“I’m frustrated and tired because it feels like my marriage is all about my husband. We always have to do what he wants to do and talk about what he wants to talk about, and I almost feel invisible. What can I do to get what I want instead of always feeling like I have to please him?”
This is certainly a touchy subject because there can be a LOT of factors at work in a situation like this. This dynamic in a relationship certainly isn’t the healthiest it could be, and it can be rooted in the personalities of both people. Perhaps one person is overbearing, narcissistic, or simply has to be the center of attention, and the other is timid, denies his or her own needs, or is easily pushed around.
While both of these personality extremes could stand to learn a few things, all too often, it’s the less aggressive (or sometimes left confident) individual that winds up the victim of a situation like the one described in today’s question. With that in mind, the advice for solving the problem is more directed toward the person in that role.
So here it is: if you feel like the marriage is stacked toward the interests of your spouse and your needs go largely ignored, try changing the dynamic by “talking in the middle.”
This means finding the middle ground between the two obvious extremes. On one hand, you could just stay quiet and take it, letting your spouse dictate the conversation, the activities you do, and even the focus of much of the marriage. On the other, you could get angry and demand that things change in your favor.
Finding the middle ground means making your concerns known without attacking your spouse – after all, they might know how their actions are affecting you. It will take confidence to interject, to let your spouse know that you’re feeling ignored, or that your needs and concerns simply don’t seem like a priority in the marriage, but you can bring up this topic in a tactful way.
Talking in the middle means not getting angry and taking it out on your spouse, but it also means not just taking it because you don’t want to cause conflict.
It won’t necessarily be easy, but if things are going to change, you have to speak up for yourself.