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She doesn't appreciate my work enough...

I study half a day and work to support the household the other half. I don't feel that my wife has enough appreciation for the work I do to support our household.


For example, when she comes home, and I'm resting after the day's work, it bothers her. I hear complaints, such as, "If you're home, why didn't you prepare a meal for me?"


There are other examples, but I think this one suffices. Her complaints confuse me. I work hard, and she doesn't appreciate it. Even worse, she demands more. I tried speaking with her about it, and we didn't get anywhere.


What can I do?


Answer:

Excellent question! Thank you for the opportunity to clarify a few important points.


First:


You went to work, and you returned from work. Very good. You fulfilled the promise you made in the Jewish wedding vows (Ketubah) to support her. And that's all! She didn't see the work itself.


Does that mean she thinks you're playing around? Not at all. She thinks you're working. She even knows it. But she doesn't feel it.


I once heard that the Hebrew name Eve (Havah) is based on the Hebrew word for experience (Havayah). You go to work and return. But she doesn't feel it, didn't see it, didn't have the experience of it. This is how it works with women, which may disappoint you.


There's a solution: create the experience for her by telling her about it, sharing your work with her, your difficulties and your successes. Describe them in full color.


This holds true even if you weren't working at all but only studying full time: it's 7:30 pm, let's say. You come home after a full day of study. Your wife asks, "How was your day? How did it go?"


You might think, what does she care about the details? She's not involved in it. She might even try asking again, and your answer is the same more or less. Then she gives up and starts talking about her day, which will take some time.


The husband's approach is mistaken! He's thinking, there are things that interest her, and then there are things that are not a part of her world. Why bother her with details that are not a part of her world? Why waste my time and hers?


In a woman's world, conversation is not reserved for "things that interest her." Conversation is about creating connection. The significant time that you were apart, each with your own pursuits, is now outside of your relationship. She wasn't there, and she's trying to rectify that situation, to create a connection with you in any circumstance your experienced so as not to experience a disconnection.


So tell her about your studies or work — in detail — to the best of your ability. Tell her about what you wrote, learned, or produced, and how you accomplished it step by step. Tell her all this with the same excitement in your eyes as when you actually did it. Let her experience your studies or work, and allow the two of you to grow the connection — just as a woman's intuition naturally knows it does.


Second:


"...When she comes home, and I'm resting after the day's work, it bothers her."


Regarding this, keep in mind two things: (a) a husband's job is to support his wife, to have her back, and be strong for her. Also, (b) a woman's nature is to be industrious and dedicated. She needs to "do" something. Men also like to rest.


All that is perfectly fine, but you have to understand that's it's hard for a woman to see her husband doing nothing. It is difficult for a woman to regularly see her husband sleeping when she is not. For her, he is not being a support to her when he is not being strong or hardworking. Again, this is an experience, not logic; there is nothing to argue with here. A sleeping husband is not being a support for his wife.


She may have to work on being understanding, to reiterate to herself that you work hard and therefore deserve to rest. For your part, try not to make it difficult for her to be understanding. Try to rest at times when she doesn't need to "experience" it.


Sometimes I say to men (this sentence is not intended for women readers), get up early before your wife, or at the very least, together with her. Then when she is not around, go back to rest. Your intention should not be to hide or manipulate, G-d forbid. It's that she won't have to "experience" you resting.


Third:


"I tried speaking with her about it, and we didn't get anywhere." From long experience, I would like to state here: apparently, you didn't talk to her at all!


To speak is not to convey the words in the kitchen in the middle of your busy daily lives. That's how a conversation turns into a game of ping pong. You speak, she returns, and everything's flying, up in the air.


Also do not speak immediately, when your blood is boiling and you're full of emotion. Definitely not.

To speak, you need to have a place in which one can hear the other with intention and deliberation.


Invite her for a conversation like this: I would like to talk to you about something when you have the time. Preferably sitting, with a cup of coffee, even pie. Or maybe on a bench outside.


You start by saying that you appreciate her for... find something. Compliment her, but honestly, without pretention. The next step is to talk about your feelings. "I feel that I am missing appreciation." (You don't blame! You feel!). "It would help me a lot if you could give me the feeling that you appreciate what I do, and also understand me — that I must rest after a day's work."


It is possible that she will understand what triggered the conversation for you. She might ask if you are referring to what she said previously. If so, say yes, and immediately add that you are not blaming her for anything, and you know that she appreciates what you do. This is clear to you, but that to settle your mind, you want to experience it more.


Give her the clear feeling that you are not demanding anything from her. You are just asking, if it's possible for her. If not, then no! Fully accept it.


This is the only way to influence the other to do something — to ask, to express feelings. Do not oblige, and do not demand. There are many explanations for why this approach works, which we can focus on another time, with the help of G-d.


Good luck!

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