Mirror Image

I think of myself as a mirror that reflects emotions of others

I think of myself as a mirror that reflects emotions of others

I often think of myself as a mirror in that I reflect the emotions of those around me. When I first met my husband he was encouraging, affectionate and fun to be with. As the years passed by, those traits have disappeared. Well, they have for me as I still see them when he talks to his children and shows affection to our pets. I keep thinking that he no longer loves me, that he finds me unattractive, that he has found another person to show those traits to .... As a result my emotions are high, my self-esteem is low and I feel unloved and unattractive. I have tried talking to him about my concerns but nothing seems to help.

I wish I was not so dependent on what others thought/their actions toward me, and could motivate myself to feel better and be more positive in my life.

Any advice?

Editor's response:

Hi there.. To an extent, I think, we all are mirrors in that, if we sense a feeling of good will from others, we naturally tend to reciprocate the same way towards them; and if we sense a feeling of ill-will from others, we tend to respond the same way.

I understand your feelings of neglect because of your husband's seeming indifference towards you. I see your concern as two-fold - one, the communication issues that you perceive between your husband and you; and two, your needing to feel independent of other's perceptions about you, and more positive in life, in general.

Many couples run into the first issue when their marriage hits a "mid-life crisis" so to speak, when the initial attractions fade, and kids' needs and career requirements come along the way. And many do resolve most of such issues over time, through communication either between themselves, or with family intervention or with the help of a professional counselor. But the first step is both the partners need to recognize that a problem exists, and be willing to find a solution to it. We have a marriage and relationships page that offers some ideas and solutions in this direction, which you may take a look to decide if any of those are the right one for your situation.

Your second concern is a much more common occurrence, and between the two, I would put this as the one requiring more prominent attention. Because, often times, resolving how you feel about yourself automatically resolves many other associated problems, including marital concerns such as the one you have outlined. It's possible that once you start feeling good about yourself, independent of your husband's affections or attention, he may turn around and start finding your new found independence attractive. Many times, men do find neediness an unattractive trait in their partner, and your needing his attention may even be pushing him further away from you.

To start with, I think what you need to do is start focusing on yourself as a person, and not as your husband's wife. Focus on your own positives as a person, and do not entertain thoughts that tie the person in you to something someone else said or did (or didn't say or do). The moment you notice such a "dependency oriented" thought creeping into your mind, put an end to it, by focusing on something else instead, something more positive about yourself. If you feel you don't have any positives attributes, think again. Make a list of such positives and keep it handy.

Second, try to find activities that you can do by yourself, and spend time doing them. These can be hobbies or voluntary activities that you enjoy - anything that can help affirm your independence. Here are some self esteem activities to give you ideas.

And lastly, as a daily habit, work on switching your thoughts from negative to positive, by using positive words in your thinking and in your conversations. Here are some ideas to get you using positive words and phrases in your daily interactions.

Hope these ideas provide you a perspective, and help you get started. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, and I wish you success in your efforts. -Shan

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