When I got married, my mother gave me a slip of paper with a few words of advice. One of them read, "My spouse never means to hurt me." It hangs on my fridge as a constant reminder to me. Look out for these seven ways you could be hurting him without realizing it:
This can be verbal or nonverbal. If you find yourself frequently getting on his case about not folding the laundry the right way, consider other ways to approach him. Praise his efforts first. You could say, "Thank you for folding the laundry. I appreciate that you took the time to do this. Can I show you how to fold the towels so they all fit in the cabinet?"
If he has done something different from what he said he would do, consider reasons this might have happened. If he arrived home later than expected, maybe he got stuck in traffic. Maybe he stopped at the gas station. Pledge to approach questions and concerns with kindness rather than criticism.
2. Not making time for him
If you find that you and your spouse are drifting apart, analyze how much quality time you're spending together. When you do spend time together, what do you talk about? If you talk about what is on the to-do list for tomorrow, and how the house needs cleaned for your parent's visit this weekend, it is time to make room for other discussion topics.
Try to find at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time each day to talk with your spouse. Don't use this time to discuss the never-ending list of tasks that need done. Really take this time to reconnect with your spouse, as suggested by William Doherty, author of Take Back Your Marriage. I highly recommend this book for any couple, whether you are struggling in your marriage or not.
3. Not taking that chance to say "I love you"
You don't even have to say it. You can show it through the things you do for him. If you're apart due to a work trip, take the time to call him or send a quick text. If he's coming home from work when you are already asleep, leave him a note on his pillow. Don't leave your husband wondering if you love him or not.
4. Reconnecting with exes
Spending time with or talking to your past boyfriends might seem harmless to you, but it could be hurting your husband. You shouldn't be spending time alone with another man unless he is your husband. Discuss boundaries with him; does he feel comfortable if your former boyfriend and other friends join the both of you at a local concert?
When sharing your thoughts on this sensitive topic, be open to your husband's views. If you don't understand the reasoning behind his opinions, ask him about it. It is important for both of you to know where each other stands on the matter and why. Don't hurt him more by dismissing his opinions.
5. Spending money without permission
This kind of spending doesn't refer to buying groceries and paying bills. This refers to using money on things you want. If you find yourself spending $50 on jewelry without talking to him first, this could be hurting him. You don't have to call your husband every time you want to make a purchase but sitting down with him to discuss a shopping budget will help spare feelings of betrayal and disrespect for his hard work.
6. Using harsh start-ups
Pay attention to how you address your husband at the start of a new conversation, and especially to how you address him when you reunite at the end of the day. Using harsh start-ups like "I see you didn't wash your bowl this morning" or "Why didn't you take your suit to the dry cleaners today?" can trigger an argument and hurt feelings.
Instead, try being kind. Showing your appreciation first helps. You could say, "Honey, I appreciate you putting your bowl by the sink instead of leaving it on the table. Next time, can you rinse it and place it in the dishwasher, please?" When you address him politely at the beginning, your discussion will be less likely to turn into a heated argument.
7. You're always right (according to you)
First, if you think you're always right, take a step back and analyze the situation from their perspective. Really listen to your husband. There could be something you didn't notice at first. Secondly, if you find out that you are in the wrong, admit it. It can hurt him if you drop the subject after realizing that you're at fault.
It is crucial to look out for the ways you're unknowingly hurting your husband, but also watch out for ways he is hurting you, too. People say that marriage is a two-way street, and it really is. If your husband is hurting you, address it. My husband and I like to choose one thing each week for the other person to work on. This is a loving way to show your spouse that you want them to change a certain action or attitude. And when you both have something to improve, it can feel less like criticism and more like teamwork.