Q: I like to do special things for my wife to make her happy, but nothing I do ever seems to make a difference. I bring her flowers, and she says, "Don't waste our money we have bills to pay." I ask her to spend time with me out on date and she says we don't have enough time with the kids as a family and she'd rather take the kids along.
Granted, we both work full-time so there really isn't much time for anything that is fun. Our lives have become task oriented, scheduled and dull.
When I ask her what she would like me to do to make her happy she says, help around the house, empty the dishwasher, etc. None of these things are very romantic to me. She never seems to take time to just be together. She's always busy with the kids and the house and I feel left out.
What should I do?
A: One thing you can do is to listen to her request about what would make her happy. She is telling you that she needs help around the house. Try to sit down with her and make a list of household tasks that need to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Assign the tasks fairly between the two of you, and involve the kids with chores if they are old enough.
Since you both work, you need to be an equal partnership to take care of the home and the children. Nothing breeds resentment more than feeling taken for granted.
If she feels you expect her to be in charge of the house and children, and you "help her" when you can, rather than being a true team player, she may be building up animosity toward you. Try talking this over and coming to an agreement you plan to keep.
Having a total, everyday investment in the marital partnership sends her the message that she is respected, loved and important. This will also free up her time to spend on more enjoyable activities. She may be missing time for self-care, such as getting her hair done or exercising, which breeds resentment and distancing.
The time you gain by working with her in the home also can be allotted to date time and alone time together.
However, if all this is accomplished and she still seems unhappy, you may wish to discuss how she feels when she spends alone time with you.
Does she feel she gets to choose what you do on dates, and even if what she chooses is something you don't care for you go along graciously and manage to have fun? Or does she feel she has to choose something you like or you will complain or make fun of it?
Do you focus on her feelings, observations and perspectives when you are out together, or do you hog the conversation? Do you judge her emotions, telling her that she "shouldn't feel that way" at times?
Look deeply into the interaction between the two of you to see if there are ways you can deepen your connection by focusing closely on the mind, heart and soul of each other. Try this as best you can.
Janet Hibel has a diplomate in counseling psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (561) 694- 6703. Her Web site is