*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having a close relationship with your partner is about love, determination, compromise, and patience. But what do you do when you realize your spouse isn't interested in starting their day with you but would rather talk to someone else?
And if they still expect you to be nice and cook tasty dinners in the evenings, would you think your relationship can last for a long time, or are they just not putting enough effort or interest into it?
My friend, Tanya, who lives in Dallas, Texas, has been married to her husband, Robert, for three years. They don't have kids yet and plan to wait at least four more years until they start a family.
They got married right after they graduated from college, and they knew they weren't ready to have kids just yet.
"Our priority was to find good jobs and, after that, to save for a house. We just bought our own place three months ago, and now we'd like to get promoted so we can earn more, stay on top of house payments, and be able to plan trips several times a year," Tanya said.
The couple feels like those trips are just what they need to keep their relationship happy, but in daily life, they're not that close anymore. While each of them works hard to have a higher salary and tries different work projects, they don't get much time to talk. And their timing is an issue, too.
"It wasn't that hard before. Our relationship was a lot more relaxed, but now it's like I always need to plan the right time to discuss anything. And if it's the beginning of the day, there's a low chance of getting heard at all," Tanya said.
The first few months after they got married, the couple made breakfast for each other and enjoyed spending that time together before going to work. Since then, they have become more comfortable with each other, but their relationship doesn't include those special moments anymore.
Tanya's husband would rather talk to someone else before getting to the office, and he won't even greet her at the beginning of the day. They rarely say anything before getting ready for the office.
And if Tanya asks him any questions, Robert will usually ignore them or give her distracted answers. In the last six months, Robert has developed a new habit.
He's getting up half an hour earlier so he can go and have breakfast at a nearby cafe with one of his coworkers. John, his coworker, is his friend too, but Tanya doesn't get why they need to have that first meal of the day away from her home.
"I'm willing to make breakfast for the three of us, and I told him so. If he needs to find out what's going on at work and wants to talk to him at the beginning of the day, that's ok. I'd just like to be included, too. It's unfair to always avoid me in the mornings," Tanya said.
Unfortunately, her husband hasn't listened to her, even if she clearly told him she's upset about his behavior. He just said he's doing that for them to be able to save more while earning as much as he can.
And that he and John are simply considering different solutions for the projects they're working on, and having her around would take away their ideas. Beyond this upsetting habit, Robert thinks he should have homemade dinners in the evenings.
And he won't have any stressful talks or see his wife in a bad mood when he gets back from work. He's willing to be nice and attentive, but only at the end of the day.
"He won't say good morning; he asks for homecooked dinners. It's like he's too different when I compare mornings to evenings, and I don't get why he does that. He should know it bothers me, but I don't see any interest in changing or improving our relationship. Am I going to have a nice husband only in the evenings and have to get used to being ignored in the mornings?" Tanya said.
Things don't get better over the weekends either because Robert spends the first half of Saturday and Sunday with John. They take walks or compare notes at the same cafe and then go to John's home.
His coworker isn't married, so Tanya doesn't have anyone to relate to how she's feeling. She has, however, told her friends about what's going on. They advised her to wait a few more months and figure out if this was really about work or something else. They also feel she should look after herself, go to a salon, and let her relationship with Robert go on without stress.
If he decides to be more attentive, Tanya is willing to compromise and support him in his work, but if there's no improvement, she will consider different options.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Robert to avoid his wife every morning but still want her to be pleased and make dinner for him in the evenings? Should Robert apologize for his behavior and find a way to compromise so their relationship isn't affected by his connection with his coworker?