20 Av 5781 / Thursday, July 29, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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Healthy Attention

This article is for women who want more attention from their husbands. It's a topic that Rebbetzen Chanan has been dealing with a lot lately in her work as an Emuna Therapist…


This article is for women who want more attention from their husbands. It's a topic I'm dealing with a lot lately in my work as an Emuna Therapist. While I have worked with husbands who want more attention, I am focusing now on wives because it is more often the wife who is feeling neglected. This is a complex topic that has many levels and if not resolved, can be a major source of unhappiness for the entire duration of the relationship between spouses.


Let's begin by examining what we mean when we say we want more attention. On a simple level this may mean I want my husband to take me out once a week, spend time talking with me in the evening, listen attentively to my problems or just be home more. Sometimes when saying she wants more attention, a wife may mean that she wants more physical affection, appreciation for her mothering or that her husband express more interest in her job. These needs are reasonable and if communicated clearly and specifically, can often be fulfilled, provided you are married to a fairly normal person, which most people are (if not, that's a different problem, which I will address in another article).


There are ways for a woman to communicate her need for greater connection with her husband and these ways consist of an unashamed and non-combative approach.


When a wife wants her husband to spend more time with her, she has to take responsibility for that desire. She cannot afford to be embarrassed about her need for his love. It isn't always easy to expose our vulnerability but that's what adults must do. A woman also needs to ask for attention in a productive way. Raging, shaming, withdrawing, being depressed or acting passive aggressive will drive your husband away from you.


A man takes his wife's unhappiness very personally. After all, he asked you to marry him and assumed he would be able to take care of you properly and make you happy. Therefore if you are not happy, your husband feels like a failure. You trusted him and he let you down. This is a painful feeling for a man and like most people, he will want to avoid the person who “makes him” feel this way about himself. Not only that but he may become defensive and aggressive, and before you know it you are embroiled in a big fight that leaves you both drained and miserable. So yeah, you'll get attention all right, but not in the way you hoped for.


That brings me to a more complicated meaning of the word attention, a meaning that is loaded with subconscious unmet needs for the love, security and validation that might have been denied you as a child. This is an emotional wound that no amount of attention from your husband (or anyone else) can ever heal. Learning to stand alone with God, to find joy, spirituality, friendship, interesting work, hobbies, satisfaction and self-esteem, without any attention from your spouse is a powerful and life-altering accomplishment. This requires sincere prayer, hard work and a strong will, but if you are courageous and committed, Hashem (and a good friend, therapist or coach) can surely help you become less needy. Once you have learned to pay attention to yourself, to give yourself the care and pleasure you deserve, you won't feel so desperate when your husband is busy, distracted, preoccupied or insensitive.


Be patient with your husband and be willing to teach him how to give you healthy attention. But do it lovingly and to do that you have to first love yourself.



* * *

Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen is a certified Emuna Therapist for Breslev Israel. You can set up an appointment with her by contacting staff@breslev.co.il

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