06/09/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

So He Takes You For Granted? 5 Easy Fixes

It's one of the most common complaints I hear from the women I coach - whether they're married or dating: "I just feel like he takes me for granted." When I ask why, women cite things like:

  • "He waits until Friday to make plans for the weekend - he just assumes I'll be available."
  • "He used to take me out on nice dates - now it's always takeout and a video"
  • "He won't propose - he just assumes I'll stick around forever without being married."
  • "He doesn't appreciate all I do - working, taking care of the kids, the house, etc."

When we feel taken advantage of we feel like a victim - and while the object of our ire may indeed be selfish, we won't fix the problem simply playing the blame game. Sure, we can nag our men, tell them they ought to appreciate us more, and maybe they'll make an effort to show more appreciation. But "showing" and "feeling" are two different things. Men usually won't stop taking their girlfriends and wives for granted simply because we tell them to. Changing the dynamic requires more than words - it requires actions, and here are five simple ways to shake things up:

  1. Turn him down for a date, every once in a while. I know it's hard, you adore him, and want to spend as much time with him as possible - there's no one else you'd rather be with. Problem is, he knows that! He takes for granted that you're always available - because you ARE always available. So don't be!
  2. Take a trip with a girlfriend - without him. As Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider say in The Rules: "Tell him a week before you go, in a very innocent, sweet voice, that you're going to Florida with your girlfriend... 'Nothing serious, hon, just some R & R.'"
  3. Do your own thing! Don't act as if your life revolves around him. Men love women who are busy, who don't act dependent, either emotionally or financially (even if you are!). Don't sit around the house always waiting for him to come home. Volunteer, exercise, take classes, see other friends and family.
  4. Let him be the one who initiates physical contact - whether it's holding hands or kissing or making love. Maybe he doesn't reach for you as often as you like because he takes for granted that you'll always reach for him. So for a set time, a week or a month, try letting him initiate at least 75% of contact.
  5. When he asks you to "hang out" instead of taking you out, say, "Hmmmmm, no, I don't think so." Say it very nicely - you can even say you'd love to see him, but you're just not in the mood for hanging out. He may surprise you by upgrading the invite to a real plan.
These tips are simple - but they're hardly easy. If you've helped contribute to a pattern where your man does the minimum, and expects the maximum, it's difficult to change the way he relates to you overnight. The important thing is to recognize that you deserve better - and start acting like it.

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