This past week we visited our son and daughter-in-law and had a wonderful time. Great news… our next grandbaby will be here in September. While driving around one day, I noticed the gas gauge showed almost empty. As a guy, I knew it didn’t mean anything because the idiot light hadn’t come on yet. It’s the one that tells you the tank is REALLY getting empty. I know when the light comes on I have about a gallon and a half left. Someday they will have a car that has an “idiot voice” that says, “Hey you, I’m almost out of gas. Fill me up now!”
What if your spouse had a gauge? A gauge that told you he or she was running on empty and needed refueling soon. If your spouse emptied completely you’d be in real trouble because then life around the house wouldn’t be much fun.
If you think about it, spouses do come with gauges…
When your husband comes home from work unusually quiet, a bit grumpy, and heads for his man cave, saying without actually speaking “Hey, leave me alone,” he probably didn’t have a good day at work. And if you read his “emotional gauge,” you’d know his tank is almost empty.
Think about the husband that comes home and sees the house is kind of upside down, his wife looks exhausted and doesn’t give him the usual “Hi Honey, glad you’re home” kiss; and she looks like she could burst into tears at any moment. Chances are pretty high that her “emotional tank” is nearly empty. Not a good time to bring up a shortcoming you might be noticing.
When you can read your spouse’s needs, I call that “situational awareness.” Your spouse is telling you through his or her actions that their tank is empty. Some signs you may see are:
- A short fuse and getting agitated, angry, or frustrated by small stressors
- Quietness, sadness, moving slowly, spending more time ‘veging’ or wanting to be alone
- Not making eye contact with you
- You may feel ignored, taken for granted or emotionally distant when your spouse’s tank is running low.
- You may think your spouse is mad at you about something.
- Attempts to initiate physical intimacy may be rebuffed
Have you noticed when you spouse’s tank gets low? An aspect of personal growth is to mature so that you become an expert at quickly recognizing your spouse’s needs. When you are aware and get good at reading the tell-tale signs of an “emotionally empty” tank, you can focus on a fill-up. A selfless serving spouse will take personal responsibility to refill their spouse’s tank well before the idiot light comes on.
And as long as you’re filling her emotional tank, check her oil and clean her windshield too, just like they used to do years ago. Become a full service selfless loving spouse, and she’ll do the same for you.
Next time we’ll look at some practical things you can do to keep your spouse’s tank full.