This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.
Podcast version: HERE
“Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant.”
Adding to the quote:
When you trade your expectations for appreciation, you're now looking for the good in that person, place, thing or situation. It's like a shift in perspective that completely transforms your entire world in just a single moment. Suddenly, you start to see the beauty in everything around you, the little things that were once taken for granted. The simple act of appreciating what you have brings an overwhelming sense of gratitude and contentment.
No longer are you burdened by the weight of unrealistic expectations, but instead, you find joy in the present moment. You begin to notice the small acts of kindness from others, the breathtaking beauty of nature, and the incredible opportunities that are constantly presenting themselves.
"Why doesn't he put any effort in?
This is now the fifth year in a row of a forgotten or no effort birthday. I told him a week ago that I wanted to go out to this nice steak restaurant I took him to for his birthday. I asked him yesterday if he made reservations or got the sitter. He said he would. I asked today what time we were going out. He said he didn't know yet. I wasn't feeling that great and said we could do lunch tomorrow while the kids were in school, saving us from needing a sitter. He took my oldest out at 7:30 to buy me a gift (because my son is a sweetheart and asked his dad to take him). I texted him and asked if he could pick up a bottle of wine. He said sure thing! My oldest sits at the table and writes me a lovely card. At 9 pm, I get handed a new sun hat by my son. Nothing from my husband. No wine. No cake. No card. No dinner. Nothing. I'm so heartbroken. It hurts so bad to be worth nothing in his eyes.
I go above and beyond for his birthdays. For my kids birthdays. I’ve told him how important it is to me. I just don’t seem to matter.
He did the same thing for our anniversary last year. And the year before. I tell him weeks ahead of time that I want to exchange gifts. I tell him I got him a gift. I send him links of gifts that I want with choices. He bought nothing. Drove myself to the store to buy my own cake. I’m eating it in the driveway in my car.”
My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions, I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.
I am truly sorry you’re going through this, that sounds really difficult.
Your question is why doesn't he put any effort in.
What if he doesn't know how.
I know that sounds bizzar, it seems obvious, logical and makes total sense, however he may not.
When reflecting over your submission there's lots of evidence and proof you know how, and ever stating you go above and beyond, indicates you know how and have an expectation of this jester to be returned.
Expectations always lead to disappointments.
Relationships aren't about keeping score either.
We all are different, think differently and have different things on our mind that worry us.
When I work with clients that want relationship coaching I work one on one always. The stories that each person makes up in our minds is always unique to each individual. When I coach a couple separately, the only way I coach couples, if I didn't know they were married there would be nothing that would indicate they are because they always have completely different concerns, worries, problems, challenges, and stressors.
What I also have seen with working with so many people in the relationship space is when there's tension and positioning on the small things to medium sized things, the bank account of goodwill in the relationships is low or bankrupt. Weeks, months maybe years of withdrawals have the bank account so low that the smaller things are bothersome.
My Definition of the Bank Account of Goodwill: A friendly, helpful, and cooperative feeling or attitude is brought into every interaction. There is a good feeling and energy when you are around them. You look forward to seeing them; you are excited to spend time with them, and you plan and block out time to create memories or experiences near and far into the future. You are free to speak your mind in a flowing way. When you think of them, it is all good things; they mean a lot to you. You see their uniqueness and innocence. Your thoughts of them are kind and warm. There is an ease, closeness, safe feeling, and trust with them, along with feelings of warmth, love, kindness, compassion, and appreciation. You are grateful for them in your life and have a profound curiosity to understand how they are experiencing their life and their unique reality.
How to increase goodwill (think of it as a bank account, any withdrawal is 3-1 ratio, so every withdrawal will take 2 actions to be back to square one): Do things that you both enjoy together. What do you both enjoy? A productive open conversation is impossible when goodwill is low (not a good feeling, poor frame of mind).
Building goodwill is by having fun, laughing, enjoying things together, creating memories and experiences.
Support and uplift one another, bring out the best in one another, allow the conversation to move forward (not divided, not being righteous, no scorekeeping, no one is better/worse right/wrong), be in a partnership, using empathy, seek clarity on topics, look at them and see their innocence, wonder how they think and feel, with wild curiosity understand their reality, being neutral (removing any meaning or taking thing personally) and listening deeply to what they say and the energy behind the words.
I won't be able to answer your question from this submission, nor could I in a coaching session, the only way for you to know why, if that's even important is to first build up the bank account of goodwill first, establishing a safe place for both of you to talk healthfully and find out by being deeply curious what's weighing on his mind. I really doubt he had intentions to make you feel forgotten, heartbroken, in pain, like you don't matter, disappointed.. I can see how you might feel that way if you believe that your feelings come from external things, as we are trained, conditioned, and taught to believe, but he doesn't have that power, unless you believe that to be true. IF you choose to believe that you're giving your power away to him and likely other areas of your life. That's suffering.
When I work with clients, I prepare them that I am coaching them so come armed to a coaching session to work on what is within your control. Your question isn't within your control, that's focused on his actions, and needing to know why he doesn't follow your rules to how things should be.
Our "mind" loves to create stories from small bits of information it gets. When we see something and fill in the gaps with what we assume, expect, criticism, and judgment we will certainly create a plot that's interesting and entertaining, at a cost. A cost to our own emotional health, and damage to our relationship.
Be careful not to create stories from very little information.
It's very clear how you feel, and again I am sorry and it's easy to fall for our minds attempt to make sense of what's happening, how do you want to feel?
This simple question is often hard for my new clients to answer in a similar or even different situation. It's because they have a habit of looking for proof of what's going wrong, and our minds love to find evidence and proof of the negative because that's easy to find, real or not.
So let's say we were in a coaching setting and you came up with 10+ positive powerful amazing words that you truly deeply believe and want.. remember they will need to be within your control your thoughts, feelings and actions, not what you expect. Some might be...
acceptance, peace, brave, patient, strong, open, loving, relaxed, receptive, understanding, clarity, independent..
I would ask you to pick the top 3 that stand out and have a lot of meaning and energy to them when you say them they feel really good... let's assume you chose, peace, independent, understanding... I would ask you to define them, not the Webster dictionary version but what they mean to you, uniquely and what would you be doing if you were to act from these words and how you define them.
Peace may mean that you are choosing to be at peace with what ever is on these days, birthdays, anniversaries, because sharing a day together can look differently and maybe deep down you don't want anything materialistic or even a cake you just want to spend quality time. I would be curious when the last time you've done that? Due to the presumed low goodwill and what sounds like a busy household it's been a while.. So perhaps this is the gateway to increase goodwill.
Maybe independent means to you, to fulfill your own needs, and do what you want certain days of the month, getting a sitter and doing things that recharge, reboot, reenergize you with or without someone just you doing what you want.
Maybe understanding is seeking to understand your spouse more, what his reality is, what's weighing him down, what's can you do for him to feel heard, see and important? You see we all want to feel seen, heard and important, the thing is, if you want it you have to be the one to offer it first. And like all words we all have our own definitions and the only way you'll know what his is, is to ask.
I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!
If you want to send a question, please send to email@example.com please include:
- A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)
- And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it.