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This Is How To Avoid Taking Your Spouse For Granted

"Appreciate what you have, before it turns into what you had."—Unknown

Marriage

If someone were to ask me to, right now, off the top of my head, to list one of the most overlooked causes of divorce, I would definitely have to say that taking your partner for granted is up in the top five. No matter how close you are with your spouse, no matter how long the two of you have been with each other, when you don't take out the time to share how much you value your partner being in your life, it can start to take a toll on their feelings and, eventually the relationship as a whole.

Being the kind of spouse who doesn't succumb to this, let's be real, "potential divorce trap", requires daily effort. But if this is an area where you know you could stand to do better but you're not sure where to start, my hope is that this article can begin to point you into the right direction.

Ask. Don’t Assume.

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There's a client I've got who has one of the pushiest wives on the planet. It's gotten to the point where he's kind of at his wit's end. When he asked me what I thought he should do to make her less bossy, I said, "Try and approach her in question form." What I mean by that is, "Would you mind if…?" or "How do you feel about…?" Since one of the greatest causes of the breakdown in marital unions is poor communication, based on a person's personality type (and whether they are a control-freak-in-denial or not), sometimes you have to cautiously approach someone in a way that discourages them from going on the defense—in order to get your point across and also in order to keep the peace (in your home).

Along these same lines, if there's one thing that I hear both men and women say is a HUGE pet peeve when it comes to dealing with their spouse, it's the fact that they assume that they should or will do something rather than simply asking first. Meaning, they hate that their partner acts like it should be a given that just because they want something done or desire something from their partner, that it should automatically happen. Some have even said that since that is how their partner comes at them, they make sure to say "no", even if something isn't that big of a deal, just to make a point.

It's important to remember that, just because you are with someone who pledged sacred vows to have your back, no matter what, that they are still adults with the power of choice. Therefore, they don't have to do anything. When we make it a point to make a request, we are conveying that we are perfectly aware of this fact; that we are grateful for their consideration and even more grateful if/when the request is honored.

Say “Please” and “Thank You”

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If you check out the Love Chapter in the Bible (I Corinthians 13:4-8), something that it says is "love is not rude". Yet, as much as a lot of married couples profess to love each other, it's kinda crazy, just how rude they can be towards one another. An example? Do you make it a point and purpose to say "please" when asking your spouse to do something and/or follow it up with a "thank you" once they do? Even though I'm a single woman, I've got to say that, whenever someone approaches me with these three words, I am much more willing to honor their requests than when they don't. There's something about "please" that makes something feel more like a request rather than a demand and, when it's followed up with a "thank you", I feel like the person gets that complying is within my power and my power alone. "Please" and "thank you" always translate that they totally get that, and that's something that I definitely appreciate.

Show Appreciation

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Speaking of appreciation, while on the surface the word means things like gratitude and recognition, a dictionary definition that I totally dig is "the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value". Showing your spouse that you not only appreciate what they do for you and bring into your life, but that you appreciate them as individuals, that is a superpower; one that's definitely underrated. Think about it—when's the last time you made time (outside of their birthday, y'all's anniversary or a holiday) that you actually reflected on your partner's qualities and then asked yourself, "What can I do to make them feel like I appreciate their value?"

This is why doing things like speaking their love language is so important. So is doing things for no reason at all like making them their favorite dinner, handwriting them a letter, planning a staycation or a weekend road trip out of the blue, praising them in front of your children, offering to give them a break from their usual household duties, etc. are all very important proactive steps to take. Everyone needs to feel like they are acknowledged for the good that they do and the good that they are. One day soon, I'll pen a piece on how to "divorce-proof" your marriage. Showing appreciation to your partner—as they do the same thing for you—most certainly tops the list.

Acknowledge What They Are Actually Doing Right

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Sometimes, while I'm in the middle of a counseling session, I find myself in awe that a spouse has remained even remotely sane with their partner for as long as they have. My awe is due to one thing, in particular. Their spouse nags…and nags…then criticizes…and then nags some more. UGH. Something that you signed up for, when you looked into your partner's eyes and said, "I do" is to love them until death parts you (a great read on this very topic is "Until Death Do Us Part — For Real"). What comes with that is loving someone who is flawed and makes mistakes—just like you are flawed and make mistakes.

But you know what? If all they are in your eyes is their colossal mess-ups, why did you marry them to begin with? (More on that in a sec.) Surely, there are some awesome qualities that they also have. And, if you think really hard, surely there is at least one thing that they did today that is praiseworthy.

No one wants to constantly hear the list of their wrongs or be in the never-ending space of negativity. Grandma used to say that we can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. No what else we can "catch" by praising our partner? Someone who is willing to do even more to make us happy. Beyond that, someone who actually likes coming home to us too.

Remember Why You Married Them in the First Place

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An exercise that I typically recommend every couple I work with do is write down a list of the reasons why they decided to marry their partner—and then post it in a place where they both can see it on a daily basis (whether it's a bedroom mirror, the refrigerator, or they blow it up into a piece of art and hang it up someplace in the house). Sometimes, once people settle into the reality of what marriage is really all about (if you're a believer, more than anything, it's about showing you how to love in the way that God loves you; just think about all that HE puts up with—Ephesians 5), it can be easy to forget about why you and yours signed up for something as challenging, as demanding and, if you do it right, radical as marriage. A list like this can help to remind you that no, you're not crazy for being a wife (or fellas, if you're reading this, a husband). Marriage has its difficult times, no doubt about it. But you are with who you're with for some really good reasons, right? Jot down what drew you to their mind, body and spirit. It'll be good for your "love endurance levels" and great for their self-esteem as well.

Treat Each Day As Your First—and ONLY—Day with Your Partner

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November 3 of this year marks the 25th anniversary of my late fiancée's passing. I oftentimes share that while there were signs, even in our last conversation (like "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boys II Men playing and that one of the last things Damien said to me was, "Death is a part of reality"), I didn't treat our final moment together like it was our last. I assumed that the date that we made for later that day was going to happen. It didn't. He died that night in a very freak car accident, and the last thing I remember saying to him is not "I love you" but "See you later". Anyone who has lost someone close to them before will certainly vouch for the fact that nothing drives home the point that tomorrow is not promised and do not take anyone you love for granted quite like death—especially sudden death—does.

Take it from me, the pain of regret of doing just that never ever fully goes away, so please make a point to wake up, each and every morning, with a spirit of profound gratitude, first to the Most High for continuing to bless you and yours with life and then to your spouse for remaining in this thing called "life" with you, one more day.

'Cause y'all, with what life is like right through here, if having that kind of heart and mindset doesn't prevent you from taking your partner—and your marriage—for granted, I honestly don't know what will. Honor and appreciate your partner. Don't wait. DO. IT. NOW.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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