It seems that like many, we are in a nasty place in our marriage, but I am wondering if this is the end. Our 10th wedding anniversary is just a few months away. We have two young kids. We both have very demanding careers. All too common in marriage problems. We are good friends and do a decent job co-parenting. We rarely argue in front of the kids, in fact we don't argue much since I am not a huge fan of it. We have very different personalities, I was the warm and fuzzy type that likes the hugs and the kisses, he on the other hand could live happily ever after if we never touched each other again. We are rarely intimate. We go months and months without anything. Then I bring it up, we have sex, then months and months again. We go through stages when we don’t sleep in the same room for months – he “falls asleep while watching TV” or “doesn’t want to keep me up with snoring.” It has been this way for a very long time - most of the marriage. We have tried many things over the years. He understands that I need affection. He understands that me "knowing" that he loves me is not enough for me. I am fairly sure that he loves me, but he does not express it at all - at least not in a way that I think most would consider appropriate in a relationship. He says I live in fairytale land and that this is normal for a marriage. His idea of expressing love is helping with grocery shopping, fixing a computer issue, letting me have my independence, etc. He knows how neglected I feel and knows that this is a major problem. He has sworn to change, but it has never happened for more than tiny spurts. He is also very judgmental, cynical and unforgiving. He drags up issues from the past that have been "resolved" a million times! He is unpredictably moody - used to be on anti-depressants, but is not anymore. Nearly every weekend we go through an episode where he flips/triggered by over something stupid and disappears into the fetal position in the basement for a day or two or longer, just never know how long it will be and how he will come out of it! I used to get angry and sad, now I just don't care. I went through the whole "I am not in love with him anymore" to "I don't love him" to "I don't think I even like him"... now I prefer when he travels or works late. I feel so much more peaceful. I tried to change myself and not be so "needy" when it comes to emotional and physical aspects of what I think a relationship should be like, but I failed miserably. I only started to resent him more for forcing me to become as cold and detached as he is. I know that staying together for kids is wrong, but how does one call it quits when I know that he loves me, he is good with the kids, he is smart, works hard, gives me the autonomy and independence that I need, etc. Am I really unreasonable? Do I expect too much? Is a ten year marriage supposed to be a friendship and nothing more? If so, how do you get yourself to be ok with that?
Sorry that you are going through this. Okay, I am no doctor or therapist... just a guy whose been through a few things in life. On to the subject matter:
I think it is normal for the "honeymoon" period of a marriage to die down. Trying to keep that level of intensity up after careers and children are in place is probably almost impossible. I say almost impossible because focus has changed. The dynamics of the family has changed. There are little people to think of, careers to think of.... and each of you probably has your own personal stresses to deal with. (You coming here for advice really does say a lot.) Pertaining to the "focus change"... you both are focusing on what either of you finds most important. Could be the kids, could be the career. Could be any number of things, but you're both going about it like you're "on a mission" by yourself. If you can work on getting the focus on the both of you as a "unit", that might prove to be beneficial. A good therapist might be the best place to start, or better yet... bring this problem up with your general physician. They know you best and can direct you with accuracy.
You've mentioned above that you husband has changed, but then reverts back to his old ways. This is a problem that I had. I wanted to change, I really did... but I didn't want to do the leg work to effect the change. Behavior modification (this is just my opinion) is a lot like a junkie not getting his fix. The old behavior is a familiar place, even if it is shrouded in depression. (I was clinically depressed. Has your husband seen his doctor about potentially being depressed? Most men find it hard to admit, and see it as a weakness. I did for 14 years and finally got help when I about ruined everything.)
The new behavior is a good thing, but it takes constant work. The old behavior is like the narcotic.... it wants to stay there... it makes people comfortable, even if it is an uncomfortable situation they are putting themselves through. Is this making sense? I think someone who is clinically depressed, just like a junkie... has to hit rock bottom before they can get help.
I am not likening your husbands situation to mine. More, I am telling a bit of my story or offering my personal perspective. After our kids were born, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I needed to be the best provider, I needed to be the best husband, for me... there was no margin for error! I could not let my wife and kids down, and that pressure allowed me to let myself down. (I had always been my harshest critic.) Numerous times, I felt inadequate. Because of that, I would punish myself. (This is part of my disorder...) Because I felt inadequate, I did not want to be responsible for holding back the family. I would urge them to do things by themselves, then at a later date try to hold them accountable for "bailing on me". That would feed on itself and make the situation worse... it bred more self disgust, self hate... made me have a lower opinion of myself. Professionally, I knew I was good... personally, I felt as if I was failing.
Me failing was only my opinion.... there were other things that led to my disorder, but this was like the combo plate, so to speak. My negative self feelings kept manifesting in other ways.
So, I said that to get to this. See a doctor or a therapist. Work on supporting each other through this. Really try to be there for the other person... try to understand things on his side, and he try to understand things from your side of the room. Also, probably not a bad idea to take a real good self inventory. It is hard to do on an honest basis for some people. Some people portray themselves as what they want to be, but not what they are. They do not account for their real feelings. (For me... I was trying to make myself feel that there was no problems, so I portrayed myself as such.) Looking at myself from an honest standpoint, I realized that I did indeed have deficiencies, but they weren't the ones I thought I had. (All of them were far easier to handle once I identified with them.)
Good luck, and I hope the above made sense and offers some decent advice.
I agree with Brice that a marriage therapist would be highly beneficial to you both.
Your post has a bit of a contradiction in it in that you say in the begining that you two do not fight or argue much but then later say that every weekend he is in the fetal position after an episode, he's judgemental, etc. And if you say it was this way from the begining with different ideas of what you liked (you affection, him not so much and different sexual needs)--- then I'm confused why you married. Why was it okay then and not now? It is okay to want 'more' for yourself but confusing to me when we made choices all along----- choosing THIS person to marry and have two kids with. See what I am saying?
I think you should seek a therapist to see if you can work through your marrital issues but also perhaps a therapist on your own to understand why you made the choices you did and why you are now unhappy. This step is important for self revelation.
Are you wanting the marriage to improve or do you feel you are too different and want to move on?
Thank you both for the insight. We have gone to a therapist together and I have gone alone and he has been to a physical. He has tried individual therapy before, but typically quits after the first session when the therapist tells him something he does not want to hear - narcissistic behavior, etc. We are in marriage counseling now, although it has been hard to get him to go since the therapist tends to agree that the changes need to come from him. I know that he wants to change, I just fear that he can’t. We were going to file last year, he asked for one last chance – a four month period to prove that he can be the way that he used to be. Two months were great, then went back. I don’t want a fairy tale, just a hug, a kiss, a compliment now and then.
We got married because we were in love and things then were not the way that they are now. Before we got married, things were perfect! Then things changed quickly. He kept telling me to be patient that it was just a stressful time - job loss, MBA, new job, young kids, etc. and that once things settled down, we would be ok. Things have settled down, two stable jobs, education behind us, a nice house, kids sleeping through the night :) etc. No improvement though. So this is where my frustration is coming from. I have been asked to be patient and wait and I have because I love him, I have waited for a long time and supported him through all of the difficulties. I have dragged him to the hospital when he refused to go, I stayed open minded about change when history was showing that it was unlikely. I have tried to lead by example, but there is never reciprocation. the counselor says that the hardest part is the maintenance and that is true. However, I am at a loss of what more I can do. I have tried - hey honey, wasn't it nice when - it would be so great if - remember how Dr. said that - What more can I do? Things are different now than when we got married, but not much different than the last 9 years or so. The difference for me is that all the reasons that he gave me before for how things were are now gone.
I guess the contradiction in the - we don't fight vs. fetal position - is best illustrated by an example: I say I would like to have Japanese for lunch, an hour later he asks if we should have Mexican or Italian. I take a deep breath and say that either one is fine. He begins to rant about how I am always indifferent about food choices and how irritating it is that he has to pick where we eat! I remind him that I offered what I wanted earlier and since it seems that it is not what he wants, I am ok with either of his choices. He continues - in a loud tone with the kids by us - his rant about how irritating it is that we have such a hard time picking a restaurant and says that we are eating at home, slams the door and disappears for 24 hours. Then eventually comes out and says that he doesn't know where that came from and that he is sorry. Next weekend again, different trigger, but same reaction. Will not take medicine. Counselor told him he needs behavior modification, he does not see why he needs to modify his behavior, this is just how he is.
Okay, so you ARE fighting in front of the kids. That is where I was having difficulty because at first you made statements that made me think you two got along well but just more as companions than husband/wife romantic lovers. That does make a difference. Fighting in front of kids might happen occasionally but shouldn't often or be the norm every weekend. I believe in my heart of hearts that most kids don't care if their parents are hot for each other and having sex often but do care about nasty tones being used and fighting going on around them.
I'm not really sure what you are looking for. I would suspect that your husband has a bit of depression but is unwilling to treat it. I think you two have compatibilty issues and am surprised they surfaced after marriage and you had no inkling prior. But many couples have to find the balance of pleasing the others within the constraints of what they are comfortable with. Your husband doesn't sound like he is putting forth great effort.
Are you looking for ways to convince him to try or for advice to leave. You know you can leave. I'd spend time not dating anyone at all for a solid chunk of time. This is really essential when we end a long term relationship. And then you have to forge a new 'friend' relationship with him to coparent. But if ou want to work on it, then I'd ask him to go to therapy again. You can tell him that you have grave reservations about things as they are currently going. Maybe he'll try harder??? And if he won't go, I'd restart your solo therapy to help you along. best of luck
For me, the maintenance was/is not the hard part. Actually going to a therapist and telling someone I needed help was the hardest. After I started going, each visit was there therapeutic.... I could actually feel weight coming off of my chest.
Being able to put labels on my disorder was real big for me too. My depression was validated... how I was handling it was not. Honestly, there is no need to validate what I did.
I'd try one more time to get him into therapy? Would it be of help if you went with him to his meetings? Maybe not necessarily go in, but wait in the waiting room? Heck, if he is willing, sit in on the meetings. Sometimes that little bit of support is a big, big thing.
Maintenance is easy for me because I have my eye on the future. I've directed everything I do for me, as something I am doing for my family with a goal in mind.
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