Should You Stay If Your Spouse Refuses to Meet Your Emotional Needs? – Assume Love

I received an interesting comment on my When Your Spouse Won’t Use Your Love Language post.

So one spouse should just accept that their spouse is so self absorbed and narcissistic that they won’t treat them, they are supposedly in love with, the way they need to be treated. Oh, and don’t treat your spouse the way they are treating you. Stay in a marriage where you are being emotionally neglected and abused by a partner you have explained your needs to and they refuse. Listen to this lady at your own risk.

It’s not an uncommon reaction to my take on trying to fix our spouses to fix our marriages. It probably would have been my reaction when I got fed up with my first marriage, too. It just feels so utterly unfair that we have no way to compel different treatment from someone we’re married to.

We do, of course, have a way. In most circumstances, we can leave, whether through divorce, separation, or annulment. In other circumstances, where their behavior breaks a law, we can have them sent away.

Couples therapy can help if both of you value the relationship enough to make changes you don’t believe you ought to be required to make. If you stand your ground, or if your spouse does, nothing will change.

My advice is for someone who wants to stay married and feel loved. I also want to feel loving; that’s one of the best feelings ever. Somehow, when I reached the end of my rope for getting what I felt I needed from a husband who could not or would not provide it, I forgot that this desire to feel the feels of loving me is what was keeping him from divorcing unhappy, griping me.

That’s why I tried everything this commenter mentioned:

  • “I need more from you!”
  • “See how you like it when you don’t get what you need from me!”
  • “I did all these things to accommodate your needs. Now you owe me!”
  • “If you loved me, you’d do this for me! I love you, but if you don’t love me, I’m leaving!”

I can promise you this: if you treat your spouse poorly, for any reason, it will not improve your relationship. It will not make you feel more loved.

When you mistreat your spouse—or even just accuse them of not loving you when they do, they’re going to give you the same knee-jerk reaction you’re giving them. That’s what we do when we feel threatened, unless we take the time to think it through, unless we override our instincts that were so well honed for handling life-and-death dangers, not relationship issues.

If you would like to override those instincts, the original post offers plenty of ideas for dealing with our unhelpful expectation that when we were promised love, it would come in the particular form we seek: gifts, acts of service, quality time, affirming words, or physical touch.

It is that expectation that is being violated, not our rights as a spouse. And because it’s our expectation, we are free to revise it whenever we’re ready. Then both of us will be free to enjoy that wonderful elevation of feeling and acting loving again. It’s worth it. I promise.

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