Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No Assumed Expectations! - Husband Question

I'm blatantly stealing a question posed on Maya's Mom today. It was just too good a question to pass up!

Okay, I don't usually ask this kind of question but I need advice to give to my sister. This is for my sister who I love dearly. Well we all know that Mother's Day was Sunday and her and her husbands anniversary was Monday. Her husband did not do anything for her either day. They have five kids and he couldn't do something small to say he appreciates her or anything. They didn't do anything special yesterday. He was gone most of the day... all day and didn't speak to her when he got back. I don't know what to say to her. This isn't the first time this has happened but she's getting tired of it and I have no idea what to say to her. She does as much as she possibly can for her children and him. I just know she deserves better.

My question is what would you do or say if this was your situation?

I think that your sister needs to have a talk with her husband, but she needs to be careful with how she words her comments. If she starts with an accusatory tone and "you" statements her husband is going to shut down and stop listening. Sentences like "You let me down" or "You never do anything to help around the house" or "You left me alone all day on Mother's Day AND our Anniversary" would make anyone feel defensive and stop listening. If she uses "I" statements she'll probably get a better reaction. When you say to someone "I feel hurt when you don't come home on time." it takes the blame off of the other person. It makes it possible for them to hear you without feeling accused. It's hard to feel defensive about how someone is feeling. She could try saying "I felt ignored on Sunday and Monday. I would have appreciated a gesture from you."
The best way to prepare for this conversation is for her to really figure out what she's upset about. Is it that he didn't speak to her or that he was gone all day? Is it because he didn't plan something special? Once she figures out what is really bothering her, then she can discuss it with him. Waiting to figure out what you are really upset about makes it possible to stay cool during the discussion. If you rush in and attack the first issue that seems to be bothering you then you end up arguing about anything and everything. That's how you end up having huge fights about plates left in the sink or the badly parked car.
In the end though, I think their issues may have something to do with assumed expectations. She's hoping he's going to notice she's upset, and in true guy fashion, he hasn't caught on. I'm a big believer in never having any assumed expectations in any relationships. The more you discuss things and tell others what you want from them, the less you stand to be disappointed. It's all in how you word things. What can be condescending can also just be matter of fact and can save everyone a lot of heartache in the long run. Think about how much more your sister would have enjoyed her weekend if she had just told her husband "I'd like to go on a romantic date with you Monday night. I'll get the sitter if you arrange the rest." Most people, not just guys, are more focused on what they need and don't spend too much time worrying about what will make others happy. Most of the time it's easier to just take the guess work out. (And I know that it's not the same as having a husband figure it out on their own, but guys are guys and it's hard to teach old dogs new tricks.) Eventually, if she's consistently clear about her expectations, her husband should start to catch on. One day he may even surprise her on a special day. In the meantime her best bet is to start asking for what she wants.

blog comments powered by Disqus