Maybe you feel like that intimacy has gone, or that your conversations with your partner have become about the daily routine of your lives, rather than anything more meaningful. Perhaps you have forgotten the last time you had fun or surprised each other.
Feeling “invisible“, unappreciated or like almost been taken for granted by your partner may be very painful. While every situation is different, feeling like you aren’t important, or are no longer connected with someone, is hard.
According to a survey by AARP, being married but lonely is far from uncommon. Nearly 33% of married people over the age of 45 reported feeling neglected by their spouses. If you’re experiencing something similar, there are steps you can take to feel more connected.
Figuring out the possible cause of the problem, talking to your spouse, and spending more quality time together are great places to start. Before becoming resentful or starting looking for attention elsewhere, we’ve looked at some options to help you keep your relationship alive with the help of Dr Adelia Lucattini, Psychiatrist of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI) and of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA).
Dr Lucattini, what is neglect in a relationship?
When your partner no longer has the usual attention for you, the one you deserve as a woman and a wife. An important sign to consider is when he does not value your time, the time you devote to him and the family you’ve created together. The first bell is when he is totally focused on his work, sports and social relationships without ever asking you if you need or enjoy his presence and does not ask you to participate. Another point to note is when he entrusts his family members to you, taking it for granted that you have pleasure or want to be with them.
What’s the best way to address this issue and what can we do when our partner takes us for granted?
First of all, you have to realize this. You have to read the signs, give them the right amount of attention and not think that your partner will retrace his steps if you do not speak clearly to him. You must always bear in mind that you have the full right to be loved and that attention and care are normal needs in a relationship.
The first step is to talk to him about it, pointing out your needs and what makes you happy, then tactfully but firmly tell him that he takes you for granted by giving him concrete examples that he can understand.
The second one is knowing how to say no. For example, you can start gracefully evading the things he expects you to do without ever asking you. Then tell him clearly what you cannot do anymore and for what reason. Last but not least, it is to tell him that he has to ask you clearly and with a grateful ‘please’ for what he desires you to do.
Is there anything we can do to make him regret neglecting us?
Start with enhancing yourself, make your time special and unique, treat yourself to a massage or improve your look. Take time for yourself to play sports, yoga and pilates. Organise evenings with friends, going out with them or inviting them home. Once you have carved out your own space, he will be forced to take care of the family and things you have always looked after. He will have to reorganise his priorities at work, devote time to his children, and reduce or give up some hobbies. Don’t stop being seductive and attractive. When you are confident, clear about your needs and desires, and sure about your own rights, your partner will realise his mistake and will be afraid of losing you. By being seduced by your strength and your new way of being, he will find you interesting and desirable and he will try to make it up to you and win you back.
The fact that you’ve identified that you’re not feeling great about how things are is an important first step. However, if making an effort to clearly communicate your needs to your partner and improve your self-care won’t sort things out, seek out for getting some additional support or therapy, especially if the situation is negatively impacting your mental health.
Interview by Marialuisa Roscino
About The Author
Adelia Lucattini | Psychoanalyst
Adelia Lucattini is an MD, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst Full Member of the International Psychoanalytical Association. Author of books, articles and publications on psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and literary criticism in Italian and international journals. Science communicator, she is the author of the blog ‘La Pensée. Guarire Giocando”.