Do you and your spouse have a special greeting ritual? You might want to start one after reading Catholic writer John Bosio’s article and seeing how easily couples can get into trouble by taking each other for granted.
Are you Invisible?
by John Bosio
Dave and Diane are a couple in their early thirties. Married seven years, they have two children. Dave is a successful professional and Diane works part–time at the local library. They are a normal couple and have many of the same problems that other normal couples have.
I met them for the first time when they came to my office for marriage counseling. As I listened to Diane and Dave describe their problems, the following mental picture of their evening routine appeared in my mind.
It is seven in the evening. Dave drives his car into the garage, finally home after a long day at work. Diane is in the kitchen talking on the phone with a friend. The children are upstairs watching TV. Dave steps into the house and, as if he is invisible, he walks by Diane without saying a word. She is so engrossed in her phone conversation that she hardly notices him. Dave goes upstairs to put his briefcase away. On the way up he pokes his head into the room where the children are. He does not say anything and they continue watching TV without acknowledging his presence.
Dave returns to the kitchen where he finds his dinner warming on the stove while Diane continues her phone conversation. He takes his plate to the living room, turns the TV on and watches whatever program is on while he eats by himself. He ends up falling asleep in the chair. Later he tells Diane, who is now busy on her computer, that he is tired and he goes to bed.
Now, listen to how they react to this situation when they are talking about it, each trying to blame the other for their pain.
“You don’t care about me anymore!” says Diane with an angry tone while turning toward Dave. “You don’t spend time with me like you used to,” she continues. “You come home late every evening and hardly say anything to me. You sit in front of the TV until you fall asleep, and the evening is over.”
Dave, who has taken a defensive posture and is visibly perturbed, jumps in with a loud voice: “That is not true at all! You make me so mad!” He pauses briefly to compose himself, then continues: “I would love to spend time with you in the evening but by the time I get home you have already had dinner with the kids, and you are on the phone talking to Martha or Jenny or your mother. I don’t like getting home late and tired and having to eat by myself. It makes me feel alone and ignored.”
“What an exaggeration!” shouts back Diane. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and making me look bad in front of the counselor. Last week I prepared an elaborate meal for us, and you showed up two hours late. The worst of it was that you did not even have the courtesy of calling me and letting me know that you would be late.”
“Let’s not go there!” says Dave. “There is more to the story than what you are saying.”
Situations like this, to one degree or another, exist in many homes, and the exchanges between Diane and Dave may sound familiar to most couples. We all fall short in our attentiveness to our spouse, and often feel invisible to each other, and then we blame one another for the loneliness we feel. However, accusing each other as Dave and Diane did will not resolve the problem. It exacerbates it.
If there are times when you feel invisible to your spouse, do not keep quiet and fume inside. Let your spouse know graciously that you are feeling ignored. Explain what situations leave you feeling invisible. Then together explore what each can do differently to acknowledge the other’s presence. Being present to each other is essential to the life of the marital relationship. Ignoring one’s spouse spells trouble for the relationship.
|Questions for Reflection
- Has your spouse commented about feeling ignored? How have you responded to this revelation? Reflect on what causes you to fall short on your attentiveness to your spouse.
- When you feel ignored by your spouse, what do you normally do?
- How can you and your spouse resolve to be more attentive to each other and to let each other know gracefully when you feel ignored?
John Bosio is a husband to Teri for over 35 years, as well as a father, a former marriage and family therapist, an adjunct faculty member of Aquinas Primetime College, and a retired global human resources manager for a Fortune 100 corporation. Read John’s latest book, Blessed is Marriage: A Guide to the Beatitudes for Catholic Couples.
©2012 Family Ministries, Archdiocese of Chicago