Wendy Atterberry, a relationship advice columnist over at The Frisky, gave some interesting advice to a woman who feels her fiance doesn’t appreciate her.

What I get from the letter is that the woman is working very hard, between her career, staying fit, and continuing her education. Her fiance often complains about “being broke” and that she doesn’t do housework; he rarely takes her out.

I automatically thought, What an annoying jerk, but Wendy’s advice made me think twice:

Your entire schedule is filled with things you’re doing for yourself. You’re working long hours at your day job, researching scholarships to get another degree, studying for certifications, and then going to the gym so you don’t get fat. What are you doing for your fiancé? How are you investing in your relationship? It sounds like you really can’t even be bothered to do much housework when you’re done with all your self-work. And housework isn’t even relationship work! When are you spending quality time with your fiancé? When are you nurturing that bond? And what exactly is it that you feel your boyfriend should be showing appreciation for? That you spend something like 18 hours a day basically ignoring him?

I went through something similar with my ex. I was very focused on my own thing. My writing and hitting the gym five times a week. I worked out after work till he started complaining that he didn’t want to wait so long to have dinner. I thought, Well, go ahead and have dinner by yourself, but I didn’t want to piss him off so I changed my schedule and started going in the wee morning hours.

I felt like all he did was complain. I wasn’t making enough money, I wasn’t dedicated enough to his parents, I didn’t drive. In the meantime, I was working full-time and trying my hardest to become a successful writer. I was doing all of our housework because he helped out his parents more than I did (they were his parents after all). I was trying to cook for us. I was trying to drive although it terrified me.

I felt completely unappreciated.

The truth was neither of us put very much time into our relationship, though sometimes I demanded more couple time.

“But we’re together at my parents’,” he’d say.

Not quite the same thing.

He’d give in, reluctantly it seemed, and I had a feeling he preferred to spend more time with his mother out of guilt, no matter how much she pissed him off.

The truth was I concentrated on myself so much because I wasn’t happy in my marriage. I don’t think the focus on myself was a cause of my unhappy marriage but an effect. I was unhappy so I poured myself into my writing and exercising. I wanted an excuse not to be around.

Now with MB, we need to make the effort to give ourselves alone time instead of just hanging out constantly. Plus we support each other’s goals and have similar interests. We encourage each other to work on our projects. For instance, this weekend we spent the whole time hiding from the rain and working together.

I think that’s the issue with the woman with the unappreciative fiance. She’s not really happy with the relationship and is making excuses to not be around. She should find someone she has more in common with and who supports her goals, and she should definitely not marry that guy.

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