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My husband once sulked the entire day when I asked him to add cream and sugar to the coffee I brewed for him.

For the past seven years, we’ve shared our lives, with the last two years spent as a wedded pair. For around 14 months now, I’ve been actively participating in individual therapy and we’ve embarked on a joint therapy journey for around 6 months. The major areas I’m hoping to improve upon through therapy are my self-confidence and lingering feelings of apprehension. Throughout this journey, it dawned on me that I’ve been a perennial appeaser, especially towards my spouse, Robert. In all my relationships, especially those involving the opposite gender, I’ve tried to justify my worth through my appearances, homemaking skills, allure, and standing, because my self-esteem wasn’t particularly robust. Being myself seemed insufficient until recently when I started to delve into these issues. I am now learning to assert myself.

This week has been unusual; I’ve been going to the office daily, a change from my typical work-from-home routine. Robert has also been commuting to work, so we’ve been sharing the ride. His office has parking facilities, whereas mine doesn’t. One morning, Robert requested I brew him a cup of coffee. I agreed, though I was in the middle of getting ready. I proposed preparing the coffee and leaving the addition of cream and sugar to him. Upon hearing this, he claimed he lacked the time and maintained silence for the majority of the day. Despite this, I treated the day as an ordinary one. The following day, my plans involved a trip downtown after work, which I was planning to do from home. Robert asked if I could drop him downtown, pick him up, bring him back home, and then return downtown for my plans. I declined. I suggested he could utilize public transportation, hail a ride, or accompany me later when I headed downtown. We could then return home together.

Today, I visited the office, and my parents are due to arrive the day after. Despite having a rather long day, I intended to clean up our home early. Robert insisted he’d take care of it and asked me not to worry. However, upon returning home, I discovered our house in a state of chaos. When I pointed this out, Robert suggested that I clean up if it mattered that much to me. Choosing not to make it a significant issue, I resolved to tidy up myself. No arguments, no drama. However, Robert then refrained from talking to me.

This evening, I was subjected to a torrent of complaints about how I’ve changed. According to Robert, I no longer make him feel cherished or unique. To me, this signifies the positive impact of therapy. I remain considerate. I still take on cooking, shopping, dishwashing, and tidying up after Robert, but I don’t allow these responsibilities to consume my life or cause undue inconvenience. I believe this is acceptable, and Robert will need to adapt and cooperate with me, as I cannot respond to his every whim. I understand that relationships are built on a foundation of giving and receiving, but I’ve rarely experienced the receiving part. I often feel that I’m only giving and then facing repercussions when I refuse to give more.

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