Most of us would quickly say we love our mate. We feel love for our mate. Likewise, most would say we value our mate. But, do we really show that we value our mate? Does your mate feel valued?

In a recent counseling session, the wife shared that she did not feel appreciated or valued by her husband. He quickly interrupted her and assured her that he did, indeed, value her.

“But, I don’t feel valued,” she shared again.

“I don’t know how you can say that,” he said angrily. “I do value you and respect you. You don’t know what I’m feeling.”

“I come in a distant fourth or fifth place in your life,” she said. “You value work and sports over me. I’ve asked you to do certain things and you promise and then forget to do them.”

He became even more notably irritable.

“I just can’t believe you’re saying that,” he said. “I don’t value my work over you. That’s ridiculous. Besides, I do those things most of the time.”

“Well,” she said slowly. “Meeting my needs some of the time doesn’t show me value. Could it be that you want to see yourself as someone who values their wife, when the reality is you really love your work and buddies more?”

He bristled but agreed to give it some more thought.

“Regardless of what you believe, I don’t feel valued. I don’t see actions I’ve asked for that would show me value.”

We continued to explore the issue and brainstorm remedies. This is a problem I see often in counseling. I hear many state that they don’t feel valued or appreciated, often to the discouragement of their mate who believes they are showing value. What is the problem? What are the solutions to this problem?

Here are a few ideas to consider and remedies to explore:

First, share with one another how you want to be loved and valued. We all want to be loved in different ways, and valued in very specific and individualized ways. Share with one another exactly how you want to be loved and valued. Understand that your mate cannot read your mind or know exactly what you want.

Second, be specific in your requests. Be specific in what you ask for. It is not effective to be vague in your requests. For example, saying “I want to be loved more,” is not specific. Saying “I want you to spend quality time with me every evening” is more specific. Saying “I want you to sit and talk to me for half an hour every evening” is even more specific.

Third, clarify feelings and the importance of them. It is important to share feelings as well. Sharing that you feel unimportant, unloved, or devalued is an important aspect of communication. Encourage your mate to empathize with your feelings. Add this to your specific requests.

Fourth, evaluate progress. Set a time to evaluate progress on your goals. Agree at the beginning that you will sit down together every week or two to determine how you are both doing at meeting each other’s needs.

Finally, appreciate steps of progress. Honor steps of improvement. We all want to be recognized for the efforts we make. Ensure that you are noticing the efforts of your mate and honoring their progress.