How to Get Back to the Loving Feelings

Dear Karen,

I saw your video this week – the one about what dogs can teach us about how to greet our men, and, although it made sense on one level, what if you’re really angry with your husband, and it would just be too hard to be happy to see him when he comes home? I’d love help to feel better about him. – Mary, MA

Hi, Mary,

Thanks for your honesty.  It sounds like you’re in a painful place.

I’m going to assume a few things in my response to your question:

  • You chose well;
  • You love each other;
  • You’ve had a stretch (hopefully a long one) of things going well, and feeling good;
  • Your commitment is still there (even if it’s on life-support right now).

Hurt Feelings (Can) Cause a Battleground

Have you ever noticed that whenever your husband does something that hurts your feelings, you find a way to pay him back?  Maybe it’s not overt; your specialty may be more “stealth” – but still packs a wallop.

If you have been doing something (and I’d bet you have been), the first thing I want you to do is be gentle with yourself, and forgive yourself for it.  You’ve just been reacting from a place of trying to take care of and protect yourself, and you can only do what you know to do.

I want you to imagine the possibility that whatever he’s been doing that has hurt you was not intentional.  That if he really understood how you’ve been feeling, he’d be dismayed.  He may also feel that he can’t do anything about it, because he doesn’t really understand what’s going on for you.

If a man feels powerless to fix something, he won’t generally take on even trying – and for many men, navigating our feelings is a place that feels like the black hole of futility (and massive confusion).  No man, no matter how courageous, should try to brave that territory!  (I’m teasing here, I hope you know…)

Get Back to What You Once Had Together

You already know how to be successful with your husband; you’re married to him.  That means that he trusted you enough to put his future in your hands.  And I’ll assume that you felt the same way about him.

What are some of the things that you used to do with/for him, that caused him to feel loved, respected, cherished, and appreciated?  I know you are brilliant at this, so all you need to do is go into your memory banks, and retrieve a few of them.  Write a list, keeping in mind that you’re not committing to doing any of them (yet).  You’re just taking inventory of all the things that had you two feel close, connected, loving, and generous with each other.

Now this list can’t do you much good if you never do any of them, so pick out a couple that feel doable for you, given where you are.  And then do them.  And expect him to be less than enthusiastic (at first) when you start to do these things.  He’s gotten used to the way you’ve been, and he may not want to risk softening up, only to be disappointed again (and you can relate to that, can’t you?).

Where You Lead, He Will Follow

Our men are so deeply impacted by us – most women have no idea just how much.

Act as if you have tender feelings for him, and watch how the feelings legitimately grow – almost as if by magic!  And then, the more of those feelings you have, the easier it will be to show even more love and appreciation and respect and all those other groovy things that make him want to make you happy.  He will be compelled to work at that, because of what he is getting from you – something he can’t get anywhere else, and is more valuable to him than gold.

Enjoy the process of building the bridge back to connection, generosity and love between you and your husband.  I’d love to hear how you’re doing!