Did your Valentine play by the ‘Rule Book?’

Did you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!The Rule Book

How was it for you?

Are you feeling the lurrrrve?

Did your Valentine shower you with hearts and flowers and words of undying love on the most romantic day of the year?

Or was it all a bit of a ‘Larry Let Down’?

February 14th is one of those days when our “Rule Book” comes into its own.

And heaven help ‘him indoors’ if he doesn’t follow The Rules.

Today of all days!

The ‘Rule Book’

So what exactly is a ‘Rule Book?’

A ‘Rule Book’ is the unwritten list of rules you’ve created in your mind about how your husband ‘should’ behave so that you can feel happy.

So, this Valentine’s Day, your Rule Book may have read something like this:

  • My husband should send me flowers without being prompted
  • He should send me a Valentine’s card with a heartfelt love message
  • He should book my favourite restaurant and take me out for dinner
  • He should tell me he loves me
  • He should whisk me away for a surprise romantic break to Paris

When he plays by the Rules – great.

You get to be happy.

But what happens when he doesn’t?

What do you make that mean about you, your husband and your relationship?

Maybe you make it mean:

  • He doesn’t love me enough
  • He doesn’t respect me
  • He doesn’t care
  • He’s selfish
  • He’s ungrateful
  • He doesn’t value me or our marriage

But does it really mean those things?

Or is it possible your husband simply has different values, beliefs and priorities to you?

Is it even a tiny bit possible his behaviour is NOT a reflection of how he truly feels about you?

And if he does follow the ‘Rules’ what is motivating him?

Is it because he genuinely wants to?

Or because he knows what’s expected of him and he’s all for a quiet life!?

If so, is that still proof of his love?

And do you really want him to do something he does’t want to do? Does that feel authentic?

It’s Okay to want what we want – And…

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m all for asking for what we want in our relationships.

I want and enjoy red roses and romance on Valentine’s Day as much as the next girl.

It’s more than okay, essential in fact, for us to make requests and let our husbands know what’s important to us in our relationships.

And for them to do the same.

This kind of communication is key in a healthy relationship.

The problems occur when our requests aren’t met – AND THEN we attribute negative meaning to that.

That’s when we start banging our fists on our Rule Books.

The problem with ‘Rule Books’ is they provide a surefire way of setting ourselves up for disappointment and frustration when our requests and expectations aren’t met.

The Alternative

So, what’s the alternative, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of our marriage?

How can we set ourselves up to feel good regardless of whether Cupid’s arrow strikes?

Here are three steps to get you started:

(1) Decide what you want and ask for it

As I said, it’s important to allow yourself to want what you want – and to ask for it.

So, decide what it is you want from your husband, then initiate a conversation with him and make a request.

Don’t expect your husband to just know what you want.

He isn’t a mindreader – you need to tell him!

Be willing to be vulnerable.

As part of the conversation, explain why having this thing is important to you.

When we understand why something is important to another person, we’re much more likely to respond positively.

But here’s what’s important: DO NOT be emotionally attached to getting your request met.

Understand that a request is just that – a request. It isn’t a demand.

As a free thinking adult, you husband doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do.

And, by the way, neither do you.

(2) Look beneath the behaviour – how do you want to feel?

Hint: The only reason we ever want anything is because of the way we believe it will make us feel.

How will you feel when your husband behaves the way you want?

Do you want to feel loved, appreciated, cherished, respected, cared for?

What will you believe if your husband meets your request and you feel the way you want?

For example:

  • I am lovable
  • My husband loves me
  • He values me
  • I matter to my husband
  • I’m a priority in his life

Can you imagine feeling the way you want to feel, without your husband doing a single thing differently?

The truth is you can.

Your husband can’t ‘make’ you feel anything. It’s not even possible.

Other people don’t create our feelings.

Our feelings are created by the THOUGHTS we choose to think and believe. Always.

And that’s great news.

Because our thoughts, unlike our husbands’ behaviour, are completely within our control.

(3) How can you be your own Valentine – every day?

While it’s important to ask for what we want in our relationships, it’s equally important to understand our motivations.

Are we looking for our husbands to provide something we’re not first giving to ourselves?

When we don’t love ourselves enough, we look to other people to do it for us.

We want them to fill the void.

Until we love ourselves fully, we will always look to other people to validate us and make us feel good about ourselves.

To provide ‘proof’ that we are lovable.

When they don’t love us the way we want them to, we use that as evidence against ourselves. And evidence against them to ‘prove’ they don’t care.

So now, not only has our request not been met.

Now, we’ve also heaped the added pain of the negative meaning we’ve decided to attribute to it.

And it’s pretty obvious how that is going to play out in our relationship!

If you truly loved yourself in the way you want to be loved, how would you treat yourself?

How do you feel about cherishing yourself? About treating yourself the way you would treat somebody you deeply love?

What comes up for you as you think of doing this?

Do you need to give yourself permission? Does it feel selfish? What other beliefs are coming up that you might want to take a look at? Are those beliefs serving you?

What would you need to believe about yourself in order to love YOU the way you want your husband to love you?

What can you do for yourself today to show yourself that love?

Today, decide to be the (self) lover you seek!

And you never know.

When you no longer ‘need’ your husband to show his love for you in a particular way, he may just surprise you.

And if he does.

It will be a bonus.

Not a necessity.

Want to Explore if Working with Me is Right for You?

The ‘Rule Book’ is just one of the concepts I work with my clients on in my three month 1:1 coaching programme, Empowered Choices, Empowered Woman.

The Valentine’s Day scenario above is a small example of how the expectations we have of our husbands can negatively impact our relationships – and our own happiness.

Of course it’s normal and entirely acceptable to have expectations of our husbands. The problems occur when he doesn’t meet our expectations and we attribute negative meaning to that.. And then we feel bad about it and towards him. And that creates a negative spiral of disconnection.

If you’d like to make changes in your life and marriage in 2018, I’d love to offer you a confidential, complimentary Mini Clarity Session. We’ll explore if working with me is right for you, and at the same time, you’ll gain clarity on your personal situation.

If you’d like to book a slot, send an email to Julie@JulieMarah.com and let me know your availability to have a 30 minute Skype chat in the next 10 days.

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  1. As I am stuck in hospital, and my Valentine has had to “be me” with kids, home, school etc this week I def left the Rule Book on the shelf 🙂 A nice frothy coffee from Costa a double Snickers is always welcome the sweet smelling posie and the card with the price still on it shows he was doing his very best – which is enough to make anyone feel treasured and spesh!

    • So sorry to hear you are poorly in hospital Lisa.

      Sounds as though Mr. N. is giving you new ways to appreciate him this week. And no doubt he will have a new found appreciation of you when he gets to hand back his “Mr Mum” apron!

      Glad you had a special day yesterday – you deserve it.

      Take care and get well very soon. x

  2. Loved this article Julie (as I have many of your other ones)! It made me realise that the one thing I really want to have (regain) from my husband is respect. When we first met I had a very good career and income and was very independant. I happily gave this up after we married and had our first baby, and he became the sole bread winner. I now recognise that becoming dependant on him for everything (especially on the finance side) has gradually eroded my independance and confidence and sadly, I think (though I may be a bit oversensitive about this) – his respect for me. I need to find a way to build my confidence and reliance on him for my independance/self belief and not feel so craving of his respect. Food for thought on Valentine’s Day!

    • Hi Pam, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and that it prompted some internal reflection for you.

      Sounds like you have pinpointed exactly what it is you need to work on and awareness is always the first and most important step!

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts here. I’m sure there are many other women who will relate to what you have written and benefit from it!

  3. Hi Julie!

    Ha. We both forget Valentine’s Day pretty often. It’s got so we get together maybe on the 15th and say, “Still love me?” “Yeah. You?” “Yeah.”

    We’re old and somehow that helps. 🙂

    • Hi Katharine, Lovely to ‘see’ you here, thanks for your comment.

      Sounds as though you and your husband are very easy and secure in your love for each other. I can feel it all the way across the pond! Nothing to do with being old – it’s your love that’s mature! ;o)

  4. I am so feeling this post, Julie! It was difficult to stick to my ‘no need to celebrate Valentine’s Day’ when I saw hoards of men scurrying around the grocery store and mall picking up flowers, chocolates, and wine for their women. But in retrospect as I lay in bed and think about the amount of misery and stress in those men’s faces it could break my heart. My assumptions of their thoughts ,”Is this going to be good enough? Did I do it right? What else was I supposed to get?” It is so much pressure! And for what? Valentine’s Day? My husband shows up every single day. And when he does do that random surprise it is so beautiful because I know it was 100% sincere, not obligatory. I needed this. Thanks, Julie. I’m sure my husband thanks you too 🙂

    • Hi Marcia, thank you for your lovely comment! I’m so glad this article came at the right time for you.

      Sometimes when everyone around us is acting a certain way we feel like we’re missing out on something. We feel we “should” be doing the same.

      But as you said, it’s what happens on the other 364 days of the year in your marriage that really counts!

      Thanks again for commenting.

  5. beautiful post Julie. It’s so true that when I’m feeling good within myself I can overlook my hubby’s “faults” so much easier than when I’m not in a good space.

    I didn’t get a valentine this year and hubby was looking sheepish and trying to guage if I looked upset. And I told him that this year I honestly didn’t mind. He’s going through a stressful time with work and we were heading off on our family ski week on the 14th (which he’d organised and paid for) so it just didn’t feel right to make him feel guilty about it.

    • Thanks for commenting Kelly. Great point that it’s so much easier to drop the Rule Book when we’re feeling good within ourselves. And another great reason for doing our own work!

  6. Oh gosh, how true this all is Julie! My Hubby bought home a lovely bottle of champagne (yes, the real stuff!!) and went to the shop to buy food for an antipasto platter on St Valentine’s Day. Throw in a “girly movie” (which Mr 9 wasn’t too happy about!!) and all up it was a pretty good day. It was a lovely end to a crazy, exhausting week!! PS this isn’t ‘normal’ in our home so it was a lovely surprise! 🙂

    • Sounds like you had a lovely Valentine’s Day Helen! And all the lovelier I’m sure because it isn’t your ‘normal’ – and therefore a wonderful surprise bonus!

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