by Nancy Travers,LCSW
One of the main factors contributing to the downfall of long term relationships or marriages is being taken for granted. After a while, all of the things that made you feel special, wonderful, and unique are now simply accepted as standard features in your relationship. Sometimes it comes to a point where even a small lapse from your usual behavior is held against you. Although this is not the most pleasant feeling to deal with, this is completely normal and expected in relationships. In fact, it’s a demonstration of habituation, something that is not going away in a relationship unless it is addressed. If you have ever taken your spouse, partner, or family member for granted then it will absolutely affect your relationship in a negative manner. No one likes to be taken for granted, and very few people will put up with it for a lengthy period of time.
Nothing makes people feel more on top of the world than the feeling of being acknowledged, appreciated, and valued. When relationships are young and budding, there is always a sense of excitement, admiration, and affection. We say nice compliments to each other, we spend time together, and we appreciate even the smallest things done for us. However, after a while, relationships exit the “honeymoon phase” and become relatively stagnant. Why do we lose our sense of appreciation, and how can we get it back?
There are multiple ways that we can take our significant others for granted; the following are just a few examples. We can take our roles as partners, parents, or guardians more seriously than their role. For instance, we think our contributions at work and with family are more significant than our partners, and that our work is not acknowledged enough. In addition, many of us forget to say please and thank you after your partner cooks, cleans, does the dishes, or does some other act of kindness. Sometimes, we fail to say how lucky or fortunate we are to have each other in our lives. Often times, we become demanding and treat our partners differently than our friends or family because we expect too much of them. We may speak of them or speak to them in a disrespectful way, hurting their feelings. Finally, we tend to expect certain things within our own household, like dinner being ready, or the house being cleaned every week.
The following are some tips to keep you from being taken for granted:
1.Â Do things for yourself-Many people think that they should make certain efforts solely for your partner, spouse, or family members. However, as generous as this sounds, it leads to nothing but a negative result. If you are putting all your energy into others, you are guaranteed to be upset and disappointed when others do not appreciate your efforts. Be sure to tell yourself, “I’m doing this only for myself, this is what I want to do!” Although this may sound selfish, it is necessary to take some time for yourself and do things that make you happy. No one else has to notice your actions, or send compliments your way, because it is benefitting your own self-growth!
2.Â Be sure to reward yourself-It is possible that your partner or spouse isn’t giving you much credit, but you can certainly give yourself credit to boost your self-esteem. Whenever you accomplish a goal, or finish a difficult task, reward yourself and get some satisfaction!
3.Â Verbally express your appreciation for what your partner/spouse does-The best advice to remain a happy couple is to appreciate what your partner or spouse does on a daily basis. In other words, if you want others to be respectful towards you, you need to be respectful towards others. Also, if you feel like you have to push yourself to feel thankful for what others are doing, remind yourself that that is what they typically have do for you, which will ease resentment between the two of you.
4.Â Being taken for granted is a form of praise-Although it doesn’t always feel the best to be taken for granted and underappreciated, you can always use reverse psychology to turn it into a compliment. It is true that the more reliable, patient, and friendly you are, the more likely you are going to be taken for granted.
Being taken advantage of isn’t something abnormal in a relationship, it is actually a sign of habituation and comfort. Unless it is addressed specifically, it is not going to change, so it is best to work with it than to battle against it. Many people believe that once you exit the “honeymoon phase,” it’s inevitable to regain that special bond back between a couple. However, we each have total control of our actions and thoughts, therefore, we can learn to appreciate our significant others’ actions, which will regain the strong bond back. If you make the active decision to be grateful for your spouse or partner, it will automatically improve the relationship. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it strengthens your relationship and makes you feel worthy again. If both partners feel like they have a purpose, and both partners are willing to put forth the effort, then your relationship will thrive!
Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 1600 Dove Street, Suite 260, Newport Beach, CA 92660.
For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 orÂ contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.