Too Little, Too Late

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By Stacey Rose, PhD, LCSW

Session after session, many husbands and wives complain about each other.  “If only she were more interested in sex.”  “If only he listened more to me.”  “If only he came home on time.”  “If only she would stop drinking.”  It is often said to be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.  Some of these couples have received what they wished for; the only problem is they felt it was too little, too late.

So finally she becomes more interested in sex and he starts listening attentively.  Then he comes home on time consistently and she starts attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and gets sober.  One would think these couples would be blissfully happy, they now have what they had been asking for.  The problem that seems to arise for many of these couples is that they harbor resentment.  “Why wasn’t she interested in sex when I wanted her to be?”  “Why couldn’t he listen to me when I needed him to?”  “Why did it take so long for him to understand how important time is to me?”  “Why couldn’t she have stopped drinking when I needed her to?”  Life would be interesting if we got what we wanted, when we wanted it.  Obviously, this is not always the case.  Instead, why can’t we be happy that our partners are able to understand and then deliver to us what we have been requesting for so long?  Is it possible that this was not truly what we wanted in the first place?  Or are we trying to avoid being close to our partners and simply keep looking for reasons to avoid being happy with them?

Think about it.  If your partner gave you everything right now that you have been asking for (even if you’ve been asking your whole marriage), would you be happy?  Again, would you really be happy?  You think you might, but would you find something else to be unhappy about in your relationship?  What would it take to allow yourself to sit back and truly enjoy your relationship?  Just try- I dare you.