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I was sitting on the couch one afternoon, reading a book, and waiting for my new husband to come home. We’d only been married a couple weeks. We were still in that glorious honeymoon phase and I was loving it. My first marriage had been void of physical affection for years so this relationship had been a breath of fresh air. The kids were coming in and out, bustling around and as I sat there, anticipating his arrival, I felt content.

While we were dating, our hellos and goodbyes had always been affectionate. And that’s the way I wanted it. I had been so starved for physical affection I wanted an embarrassing amount of PDA in my life. So when my husband came in the door and barely even acknowledged my presence, a pit started to form in my stomach. He talked to the kids, he started making a snack, he just got busy doing “the things.”

The way I’m describing it, it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. Sounds completely normal right? I agree. But at the time, it didn’t feel that way. And I certainly wouldn’t have told the story this way. My brain started making up stories… and I believed them. All he did was come home and not greet me the way I wanted him to and I was ready to believe our marriage was going to fail. Seriously!

He should always kiss me hello and goodbye.

I should be his first priority.

If he loved me he would want to spend more time with me.

A good husband would take out the trash without being asked.

He should tell me he loves me.

This, my friends, is a manual. I had a manual for how my husband should behave and how he should treat me. When he followed my manual I felt loved. When he didn’t follow my manual, I felt pain.

Here are a few more examples of manuals. Do any of them ring true for you?

Parents should love their children.

Wives should want to have sex with their husbands (or vice versa).

He should be respectful.

She should remember my birthday.

He should spend less time at work.

He shouldn’t watch so much tv.

She should be on time.

Most of the time we don’t even tell the people in our lives what’s in our manual. We just expect them to behave a certain way. We expect them to treat us a certain way. They should just know. Sometimes we do tell them, and then we tie our emotional well being to whether they comply or not.

Think of someone in your life that you want to change. What would you like them to do differently? Why do you want them to behave this way? How would you feel if they did everything on your list?

Come back tomorrow and I’ll share the secret to getting exactly what you want.

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