Without saying anything, Jim walked away from dinner with the family to watch the game. In our couples counseling session, Patty felt safe enough to process this issue with Jim by saying, “The game is more important than me.”

Jim said, “It’s not. I should have handled it differently. Maybe I needed to ask you and the kids to watch the game with me.”

Patty said, “I feel like I’m competing against everything and always come up short, whether it’s yard work or something else. I want you to want to create time for us. I’ll feel like a priority when you make me a priority.”

Jim responded, “I feel like you’re a priority.”

Patty said, “But you don’t treat me like a priority.”

Jim responded, “I feel like you’re a priority, but I’m obviously failing.”

This is a good conversation. Leaving the family dinner silently to watch the game symbolized a major theme in their relationship—Patty doesn’t feel like a priority and is saying so. For their marriage to survive, ultimately Jim needs to be responsive to that feedback.