After pointing out how your husband or wife is very different now compared to how they acted when you first starting dating, I will now give you six little ways to help you start to like your spouse more. Don't doubt the Blogapist. You are about to get schooled.
1. Stop comparing your spouse to other people's spouses. Here's the worst thing to do:
Your friend: "My husband just bought me a new car!"
You: "Oh yeah, well mine just bought me a blender! Ha ha! Yeesh, your husband sounds awesome."
Here's what you just did: (a) made your friend feel awesome (b) sabotaged your marriage by making yourself focus on your husband's disappointing qualities (here, maybe he's not Mr. Grand Gesture). You can make your friend feel awesome by saying, "Wow, that's so awesome!" You can skip the counterpoint with your own sucky husband. Believe me, these little comments will add up in your mind and eventually you will think of your spouse as a tremendous black hole of suck.
2. Stop thinking about how your spouse "used to" act. You know what, you used to act a lot different too. If you finally read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples like I keep telling you to, you will see that nobody intentionally acts better at the start of a relationship. I mean, you do, but you're not like, "Hey, I'm going to pretend to be fun loving and spontaneous and not Type A to really screw with my potential partner, and then once I have ensnared them, I will revert to being shrewish and rigid." You're more like, "I am so happy! I'm in love! I'm finally able to relax and have fun, this is awesome and will be the way I am forever in this awesome relationship!" (Read more about imago theory, that says this, here.) So you and your spouse both acted a lot better, either entirely unconsciously or with the best of intentions, and now you're both annoyed and feel like there was a bait and switch. So STOP fixating on how they "used to" act. It gets you nowhere.
3. Do as many nice things as you possibly can. Especially if you don't want to, because it's outside your comfort zone. So have more sex, or talk more. Think outside the box. Buy your wife a commissioned portrait of her cat if that's going to make her smile. Or draw one yourself. Or bake your husband a cake and put tickets to a football game inside it. Or a gift certificate for oral sex. In a ziploc bag, obviously. You get the drift. If you do more nice things, your spouse will feel happier, because you seem more committed and invested, and then your spouse is going to be more committed and invested, and then everyone wins. And you like them more because they start acting better.
4. Spend time together without the kids doing new things. You say your spouse sucks, but maybe they just suck when you're in the same old horrible rut. Maybe there are still some new things you can enjoy with your spouse. Try some, without the kids along. And while you're there, act as nice as you used to when you were dating. If this doesn't help your spouse to act his or her best, I'd be surprised.
5. Tell your spouse directly how you feel, using "I" statements. Stop saying passive aggressive things like, "Must be nice!" when you see your husband watching his second hour of football while you Swiffer, change the baby, and do crafts with the kids. Instead, say "I feel upset that you're not helping me out more." And follow this with....
6. Ask for what you want, pleasantly. "Can you please come here and help Madison finish this pumpkin craft while I start dinner?" Delivered with a smile. If your spouse says no, go back to step #5 and give him another I statement, like "I'm frustrated that you're not helping me." For guys, this can be, "Hey, can we have sex tonight? I love you and I miss you." Pleasant is key. It may often be that your spouse has no idea how important something is to you, because you don't directly state how you feel. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and see if a response will come if you express exactly what you want and why you want it.
Well, that's it. If you try these six things, you will likely be liking your spouse at least a little bit more by the end of the week. Baby steps.
Till we meet again, I remain The Blogapist Who Thinks That Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Happen in a Blog Post.