Sunday, January 22, 2017

You can't make someone care about you

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m sick and tired of my husband caring more about him than me and our three kids.

Our oldest daughter hardly talks to him anymore since he forgot her 18th birthday last year. When she reminded him (which I usually do so he won’t miss any of the kids birthdays … like he always misses mine), he said he was sorry in a way that sounded forced. Then he said he’d make it up to her by taking us to his favorite restaurant!

That daughter just ignores him now, even though he still tries to make her laugh with his silly faces he made at her long ago.

Our son plays football in high school, just like his dad, and he used to beg his dad to come to games. My husband was too busy with his own golf games and work. So my son started hanging out with his friend and their family because their dad pays attention to him.

Tonight was our youngest daughter’s cheer competition and my husband missed it. She threw her jacket at him when she got home because she was so angry and then cried in her room.

So he told her that she was a brat! He went on and on about how hard he works for us to have a nice house and all her dance lessons. Then he told her he needed to play golf to unwind from work.

I was going to comfort her but my husband told me to “ignore her” and make him dinner. It was 9 p.m. and we all ate before the competition so I started to serve him some leftovers and he got mad … so I cooked for him.

He completely forgot about how upset our youngest was. I told him it would be nice if he did go and comfort her. He didn’t bat an eyelash and instead said, “What’s for dessert?” and asked if I would make his favorite pudding.

Normally, I would go ahead and make it but tonight I couldn’t. I’m tired of him not caring about any of us, especially our kids. If it was just me, I would be okay.

He’s always been selfish, but now he’s become completely self-centered.

How can I make him care?

Caring wife and mom

Dear wife and mom: 

You cannot make your husband care about anything. He has choices.

It’s wonderful that you genuinely nurture your family, however, we believe you may be co-dependent with your husband. You are sacrificing yourself to do everything your husband wants you to do.

You are a good person with good intentions. That’s necessary for a start.

Now you need courage to define your own needs and wants. Love doesn’t mean doing everything for everyone.

You must choose to be a healthy and emotionally strong person who deserves joy.

How do you do that?

First, we suggest that your whole family goes into family therapy with a professional. Go, even if no one else goes.

Then define yourself before others do.

Write down your values, which might include:

• Caring without sacrificing your whole self;

• Integrity – requiring each person to be accountable for serving one another; and,

• Empathy without expectations of it in return.

The good news is that if you learn to not expect your husband to have empathy, care, and integrity, you can learn to count on yourself.

You can never change a person from being selfish to caring. No manipulation, bribing, crying, or ignoring will cause a stone to turn into water.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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