13 Ways You Might Be Taking Your Spouse for Granted
Show your spouse a little appreciation and stop ignoring these subtle signs of neglect.
Keeping your marriage healthy over the course of months, years, or decades is no small feat. However, when it comes to what really sours a formerly happy union, it's not only about infidelity or incompatible personalities. In many cases, neglecting to show your partner that you appreciate them can cause an irreparable rift in your relationship—and unlike more blatant transgressions, you may not even know you're doing it. That's why we've talked to therapists and relationship experts to let you know the subtle signs you're taking your spouse for granted—and what you can do to stop.
You expect them to handle certain tasks.
Do you think your partner's just better with the kids than you are? Are they the only one who can cook without giving everyone food poisoning? While it may seem complimentary to tell your spouse that they're more competent than you at certain household tasks, assuming that they should always take the lead when it comes those chores is a sign you're probably taking them for granted.
"This is a huge issue between spouses, because demands set up a parent/child dynamic rather than a partnership," says Leah Abrusci, MS, LMFT, founder of Steeped in Hope Marriage and Family Therapy. "Make genuine requests of your partner," she says, instead of assuming that they'll simply see those tasks as their job because you do.
You don't show them gratitude.
While you may feel like you appreciate everything your spouse does for you and your family, if you're not actually going out of your way to express that gratitude, it may be less clear from their perspective.
"[Some] spouses feel like their partner doesn't even know what they do to make the relationship and household run smoothly and when you're feeling that way, it's really hard to want to do more because it feels like there is no point," Abrusci says.
If you want to combat this issue, Abrusci recommends complimenting them on specific things they've done around the house instead of assuming that they are just doing what's expected of them.
You assume they know how you feel about them.
You've told your spouse a million times how much you love them—that has to count for something, right? But what are some other ways you show how much you love and value them? If you are struggling to find an answer, then start prioritizing your relationship's health and growth with rituals like regular date nights or sharing a kiss when you leave the house in the morning.
"The most important thing is that you both feel like the relationship is getting the time and attention that it needs," Abrusci says.
You expect gratitude for doing your part around the house.
If you think your spouse should give thanks every time you pick up your dirty socks from the floor or load the dishwasher, you're likely doing those things for the wrong reasons.
"You see your contribution as doing a favor," says Danni Zhang, principal psychologist and founder of New Vision Psychology Private Psychology Services. Enjoy their gratitude when it comes, but don't expect it, and don't be disappointed if it doesn't.
And that they should tell you what needs to be done.
Sure, you're not a mind reader, but that doesn't mean you should be waiting for your spouse's cue to take out the trash or change your baby's diaper.
"You are taking for granted that your spouse is the primary home-keeper," Zhang says. Having a weekly meeting with your spouse to share your opinions of how the past week went, and discuss what needs to be done in the coming one, can keep potential resentment bay, she says.
You make career decisions without consulting them.
While your work life and your personal life may seem like distinct entities, if you're making career choices without consulting your spouse first, you're sending a signal that the two of you are not equal partners in the relationship, Zhang says. Whether you're pursuing a promotion that would mean working longer hours or thinking of accepting a position that requires you to relocate, she recommends always touching base with your partner to consider their opinions and concerns before making any decisions.
You refer to your portion of the childcare as "babysitting."
Let's set the record straight once and for all: If a parent is spending time with their child, they are parenting, not babysitting.
When parents use this type of language they're sending the message that they are merely doing a favor for their spouse, who is the real primary caregiver of the child, Zhang says. It's important to your relationship that you accept that you're in this together and that childcare is a responsibility that you share equally.
You refuse to compromise.
Relationships require compromise—but sometimes, one partner does a whole lot more of the compromising than the other. When this happens, an unhealthy dynamic can develop where one partner is so used to getting what they want that they expect it no matter what.
"If you find that your spouse is always compromising for you, or doing things that you want to do, but that it is not reciprocated, your partner may feel taken advantage of and under-appreciated," explains licensed psychologist Laura Louis. To fix things, she suggests making a vested effort to do things your spouse's way as well, making it clear to them that your decision-making isn't a one-way street.
You don't pay attention when they speak.
It may feel foreign to put down your phone or turn off the TV when you and your spouse are just having a casual conversation, but that probably means it's all the more important that you make an effort to do so.
"Give your spouse your undivided attention and respond to what they're saying as a way to show them that you're listening," Louis says.
You spend money without consulting them.
Even if you're financially comfortable, spending large amounts of money without checking in with your partner exhibits a lack of trust and respect that isn't positive for your relationship.
"If one partner is working incredibly hard to save money (and you have a financial goal you're working toward together), but you then decide to go on a shopping spree, this can be disrespectful," says Lauren Cook, MMFT.
To get on the same page, Cook suggests using a shared budgeting app and scheduling weekly check-ins to discuss your financial situation.
You don't check in to see how they are.
If you're not regularly checking in to see how your partner's feeling or how their day is going, you're not being as attentive as they probably wish you were being.
"Both wives and husbands love feeling needed and thought of during the day," explains marriage and relationship coach Stacey Greene, who recommends texting your partner throughout the day to say "I love you" or ask how they're doing.
You don't put effort into your appearance.
Similar to the importance of wooing your spouse with romantic gestures, taking pride in how you look, dress, and present yourself, shows your partner that you care about being attractive to them. Not doing so—even just once in a while—can be a major red flag that there is something off about your relationship.
"Going the extra mile of looking good all the time really leads to respect for yourself as well as keeping your partner always wanting to look at you instead of someone else," Greene says.
You never initiate sex.
Never being the one to start things up in the bedroom because you assume that your spouse will initiate sex can be a major red flag.
"It is so easy to fall into a rut if your sexual needs are getting met," says psychologist Tiiu Lutter, MA, co-owner of Richmond & Lutter Family and Couples Therapy.
To do your part and keep yourself honest, Lutter recommends scheduling nights that you will initiate things. "Put a star in your calendar once a month and on that day, make sure that you are the one starting the action," she says. This helps alleviate some of the pressure on your spouse and can make them feel more desired than they were as the sole initiator.