May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

My Wife Takes Me for Granted and Ignores Me

Dear Dr. Chani,

I would love to hear your advice on how I can improve my marriage. My wife and I have been married for close to 10 years and we have three young children. On the outside, it looks like we have a pretty normal family. Yet, behind closed doors, I suffer from stress, neglect and loneliness.

My wife is very beautiful and charismatic. I was attracted to her instantly when we were dating. I’m not really sure what attracted her to me, but she is clearly not that attracted to me anymore. When we are home, she avoids me most of the time. She stares at her phone, especially at night, until I give up trying to spend time with her.

I do most of the housework, because otherwise it would never get done. My wife is intelligent and capable, but I have found her to be messy and lazy. She leaves dishes in the sink for days and never cleans up. I do the food shopping and whatever housework our cleaning help does not finish. Although I have a demanding full-time job, I get up early with the children and watch them until I drive them to school. My wife sleeps late and amuses herself until the children come home. We interact and talk mostly when we are both taking care of our children. But once they go to sleep, she is in another world.

Although it is exhausting to do so much around the house and I feel taken for granted, I would not mind it if my wife seemed interested in having a relationship with me. Why does she ignore me? I feel somewhat depressed and angry at this point. Still, I do not want a divorce. I just wish I could change the status quo.


Single Husband

Dear Single Husband,

Your desperation and loneliness are poignantly expressed in the way you signed your letter.

Although you are married to a woman whom you admire and feel attracted to, in many ways you feel like you are living as a single man. Whenever you try to share quality time with your wife, she seems uninterested in talking to you or spending time with you. She also doesn’t seem to notice how hard you work in your job or the effort you devote to your children and the housework. I can understand why you feel somewhat depressed. Part of you would love to revive your relationship with your wife and feel what it is like to be a happily married couple. Another part of you sounds like it is wondering if that is even possible.

Your relationship has partially atrophied. That means that many of the standard strengths and connections that sustain relationships are not currently in use. They can be rediscovered, but it takes work and attention to get them going. There are realistic, actionable steps that you can take in an effort to create a relationship with your wife. During this process, your focus should be on developing an emotional connection. That means that your goal is to engage your wife in conversations that allow her to express her thoughts, feelings and opinions.

It can be helpful to start by setting aside times or planning dates to talk about light topics that might interest your wife. During these conversations, your goal should not be to simply talk to each other. Instead, try to listen for your wife’s feelings. Try to reach for her feelings about things she says. You can use questions like, “What did you think about that?” “How did you feel about that?” and “What was your opinion?”

The preparation itself for these set times or dates can also be a way of demonstrating that you would like to become closer with your wife. Let your wife know you would like to share time with her and do something that she would enjoy. As you go about scheduling these dates, focus as much as you can on her needs and interests.

While you are on a date, engage your wife in conversation about things you think she would like to talk about. For example, you can find out more about things that are her favorite (these include hobbies, people she follows and music). Take an interest in her interests during and after your time together. This conveys to her that you are listening and that you care about what is important to her.

Keep making an effort to pay attention to your wife’s interests and follow up on your conversations with her. It is possible that she will, in turn, take more of an interest in talking with you and sharing time with you. As you become more comfortable with one another, you can set a foundation for the heavier conversations you will need to have.

Eventually, you may plan a time to speak with your wife about the dynamic of your relationship. Broach the topic of how you would love to deepen your relationship. Let her know what you have noticed about her behavior that is troubling you. You might ask her if she noticed what you describe and why that might be. Take turns sharing and listening to each other.

You may be able to build a bridge to communicate comfortably as a couple as you discover more about each other. This will allow you to understand each other and emotionally support one another. As you deepen your emotional connection in this way, your wife may demonstrate more of an interest in connecting with you.

There is another point to keep in mind. It is unclear why your wife might be acting this way. She may be avoiding you because of something having to do with you, or it may be that her behavior stems from her own issues that you don’t know about. If her behavior is the result of unrest within her, it is possible that your efforts will not meet with much success. She may benefit from therapy that will help her navigate those waters. In addition, it might be helpful for you to see a therapist together to help you address the issues and work on your relationship.

Your desire to repair your relationship with your wife is admirable. This desire to reconnect is a powerful force that can ultimately help you make it a reality for both you and your wife.

Wishing you much success,


Dr. Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist and relationship coach, specializing in teaching emotional connection and communication skills for over two decades. She coaches individuals and couples, teaches courses on how to become a master of relationships and provides free relationship resources at Learn a step-by-step method to improve your ability to emotionally connect with her new online course: The RELATE Technique™—Seven Steps to Emotionally Connect Through Conversation. Reach out to her at [email protected].

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