The expert says: Whether you work in an office, run a household, or some combination of the two, you’re both likely frustrated with your heaping plates of responsibility. And although it’s a natural reaction, piling on more the second your partner steps through the door is not the best way to get him to hear or help you. “Instead of leading with a list, understand that he may need a few minutes to unwind,” says Kara Thompson, a licensed family and marriage therapist in Lenexa, KS. You’ll both listen better when you’ve decompressed and can actually focus on the issues at hand.
The expert says: Good news: If you both feel like you need more one-on-one time, you’re already on the same page, which means you’re well on your way. The next step is to stop keeping a mental score sheet of who made plans the last time and put it on both of you to jump at the opportunity to, say, see a band you like when they perform nearby or try a new restaurant with an innovative menu. In the end, it matters way less who dealt with the logistics than the fact that you bonded and enjoyed your time together.
The expert says: There’s no question that having an open dialogue about your children is important, but we understand that it can get tedious after a while. Once the kids go to bed or while they’re out at weekend activities, make an effort to chat about lighthearted topics, like the results of a Buzzfeed quiz you both took, as well as more serious news or political issues to keep you connected and stimulated as a couple.
The expert says: Relationships change and evolve, and sometimes the very qualities that attracted you to your husband are the ones that wind up making you nuts. It could be that you’re simply too stressed with the day-to-day to experience romance the same way—and that’s okay. The key is to come to a collective understanding of what sweet gestures now do it for you. A change of environment may do it—consider taking a break from the grind and going away for a long weekend.
The expert says: “Switches don’t just get turned off,” says Thompson. “There is usually something more going on in situations like this.” If you felt like you had to put on a mask to get your husband to marry you, you may want to examine what’s beneath the surface that made you feel that way. “When individual issues come up in therapy, I think it’s important for both partners to look at them together.”
The expert says: If you’re unhappy about how much your husband helps out around the house, make sure you understand where he’s coming from. What you see as slacking may be his thinking a hands-off approach is a sign of respect and trust. “Speak up and let him know when his help would be appreciated,” says Thompson. And on the flip side, if you have trouble letting go of doing every single thing, ask yourself what it would look like if you started to delegate. Would it really be so bad if the dishwasher was loaded differently, or would you end up with clean plates anyway?
The expert says: If one person’s faith is diverging from the other’s beliefs, make a joint effort to stay on the same page—or at least close chapters—as much as possible. “If you feel like his spiritual efforts aren’t good enough, you need to be honest with yourself and your husband,” says Thompson. Figure out what he can do to connect with you spiritually and otherwise, and consider enlisting the help of your religious leader, who’s likely dealt with issues like this before.
The expert says: Both you and your husband deserve equal say in your marriage, so it shouldn’t be up to one person to determine your intimate state as a couple. That’s partially because far more often than not, lack of sex is the symptom—not the problem. “When you get into a pattern for a really long time, it can be painful and difficult to change those habits,” says Thompson. If you’re dealing with a chasm this wide, it’s worth considering couples counseling.
The expert says: It’s human nature to occasionally get so wrapped up in your own issues that it’s difficult to see someone else’s perspective. “When we protect ourselves, we feel like we are the only one who feel a certain way,” says Thompson. “But once you sit down together and start looking at yourselves and how you’ve been impacted, most partners realize they feel the exact same way.” Voice your feelings of isolation before the next crisis comes up so you have a plan in place for when things get tough, like agreeing to take a few hours for yourself, then sitting down for a cup of coffee and a heart-to-heart.
The expert says: Being passionate about and invested in your career is a good thing, but like much else, it’s a question of balance. You may not suddenly be able to give up working from home or checking in with your boss via email, but you can set some basic guidelines that distinguish between personal and professional time. That might mean agreeing to after-hours tasks only every other day, or turning off your email alerts after 9 p.m. so you and your husband can give each other your undivided attention.