My husband makes me feel invisible. Does this sound familiar? Feeling unimportant or insignificant within a marriage, is more common than you might think.
I felt that way before. So I am instantly saddened and my heart aches whenever I hear this or similar comments from the women I coach. When someone as significant as our spouse ignores us or makes disparaging remarks to us, it can lead to feeling as if we are insignificant, unworthy or invisible. If you are struggling with this issue, you might find this article helpful.
Between my late teens and early thirties my value as a person was mostly based on external factors. If a guy told me I was pretty, that meant that I was pretty. If he laughed with me and we had fun together, that meant I was fun to be around. If he asked me to go out on a date, that meant I was worthy of his time. In my first marriage, my husband kept Playboy magazines around. In my mind, that meant my body wasn’t beautiful and I wasn’t enough. If he didn’t call me during the day, then I wasn’t important to him. If he was in a bad mood, it must have been something I did or failed to do and it was my job to make him feel better.
Do you see the pattern? I only felt good about myself if someone else told me I was valuable. How I felt about myself was a direct result of my partner’s mood or the attention he gave to or withheld from me. When I finally made a decision to stop living my life in such a painful and confusing way, I learned something very interesting:
The way people treat us is a mirror reflection of the way we treat ourselves.
If your husband’s behavior is causing you to feel insignificant, invisible or feel rejected, take a close look at how you treat yourself and what you believe about yourself. Do you treat yourself as if you are insignificant? How often do you put yourself first?
Right now, I know some of you are rolling your eyes and saying to yourselves “Oh, it would be selfish for me to put myself first! I couldn’t possibly do that!” Or some of you might think that your spouse is simply an insensitive jerk. He may be a jerk (which is a topic for another article) and you are free to ignore what I am sharing with you. But, my guess is the approach you’ve tried so far, isn’t working. It might be worth your time to try something different.
If you want relief from the pain of feeling slighted, stop allowing his behaviors to dictate how you feel about yourself. To do this, you must turn up the wattage on loving your own fabulous self! For the next 30 days, I challenge you to do two to three things every day to show acceptance and love to yourself. There are many ways to do this. For example, saying affirmations several times a day, writing in a journal, taking a bubble bath, exercising, doing yoga, walking in nature, eating healthy foods, etc…).
Why is it so important to treat yourself with love and acceptance? Because, when YOU truly believe that you are significant, worthy and valuable, you will not NEED anyone else to validate your existence or confirm your significance. I am not saying that you will stop wanting to be acknowledged and appreciated. You may still feel sad or even angry when your husband ignores you, but the more you practice self-love and acceptance, the faster you will be able to detach and deal effectively with the situation.
When you act as if you appreciate and value yourself it will cause a shift in all your relationships, especially your marriage. Your spouse may notice a difference in you and become attentive and interested again. Or, he might act out in an effort to make you change back to the way you were before. Your marriage might grow stronger or you might finally admit to yourself that you knew it was over a long time ago. You have to decide how you want to live the rest of your life. Are willing to settle for the status quo or do something to facilitate a change in your relationship?
Be aware, that changing the way you relate to yourself and your husband can be a daunting undertaking. I encourage you to put a support person or team in place to help you get through the first few weeks. A close friend, support group, counselor or coach can bolster your spirits, help you to strategize and keep you focused on your desired outcome.
I would like to leave you with this final thought… If you are feeling invisible or insignificant to someone, you have given that person the ability to control your feelings and how you experience life. You can continue to give your power away to that person or you can find ways to regain your power and take care of yourself.
Note to the reader: This article was written in response to a survey. Participants were asked to describe their biggest challenge or problem. If you can relate to this article and would like some support, please contact me.
You do not have to go through this alone.