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What to Do When You Are Last on Your Spouse’s To Do List?

Today’s post from the always-helpful America’s Family Coaches is a great conversation starter between you and your spouse. The desire to feel significant through our work runs deep, and sometimes comes from mixed messages in our childhood. Understanding this part of our spouse’s life, can help us understand why so often home life falls near the end of their to do list. 

Q: I feel like I’m the lowest priority on my spouse’s to do list. What can I do to change this?

A: Can you relate to this husband?

“I caught myself lately telling other guys that Satan doesn’t have to make us sin, all he’s got to do is keep us busy. When our lives are so busy and we’re going 24/7 from early in the morning to late at night, there is so much noise and so many activities that we are not able to discern or hear the voice of God. We drift apart from our spouse, and yet we try to say that we’re doing it all for her or for our families. But when we’re gone all the time, what good is that? And that’s why we’ve got to come away and we’ve got to build some things into our lives. And we all sense it down deep. But it’s a constant struggle. Constant.”


We often hear from men and women who feel like they just aren’t a priority in their spouse’s to do list. Often it’s the wife who feels that way, battling for priority against her husband’s job, board memberships, organizations, church activities, etc. However, more and more we find men feeling that their wives just don’t have time for them either. Clearly this is a problem that needs to be dealt with in modern marriages. When we hear these kinds of stories, we recognize that the spouses’ busyness often goes much deeper.

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So think about your spouse for a moment. List out all the activities he or she is involved in and how much time those activities take. Then ask yourself if you think your spouse is trying to fulfill a need to feel significant in the workplace, significant in those organizations, significant in the community. If it’s not significance, maybe it’s performance. Does he or she feel the need to perform?

We ask those questions because often this kind of behavior goes way back. Your spouse may have grown up in a family where, in order to be significant and accepted, he or she had to perform well. Whether it was sports or grades or whatever, your spouse may have felt from early in life that he/she needed to always be doing everything, and do it with everything he/she had. Only then would there be love and acceptance.

When we did our book The Five Love Needs of Men and Women, we talked to people all around the country. We asked the question, “What do you need from your mate in order to feel love? What do you need in order to have a great marriage?” The number one thing we learned—and it’s from men and women alike—was that they desired unconditional love and acceptance above all else. Some people never got unconditional love and acceptance as they grew up. So they enter marriage with that baggage.

*If you want help to better understand your mate, check out our book, The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women. It’s available in our online bookstore!