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My husband and I have been together for a total of 11 years, married for almost 6 and, in my opinion anyway, we seem to have hit a sort of “make or break” point in our marriage.

As a bit of background, I came from a bit of an unstable home with a constantly depressed mother and a narcissistic / perfectionist father. Go figure that I should grow into a depressed and perfectionist-ic young woman with almost zero self-esteem. However, years of therapy later and I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt in my life – I’ve lost a good deal of weight, have scraped together some self-esteem, fixed up my health a bit, and am generally much more positive than before. There’s just this one problem…our marriage.

I met my husband through friends and was attracted to his personality – he is one of those always the life of the party types, fast friends with everyone, the comedian in the room. I have an awful memory, so I can’t remember if there was “chemistry” or anything like that that drew me to him, but for sure it was his personality. Sometimes, especially now that I’ve been thinking about our “situation,” I wonder if I saw him as my “out” from a depressing and over-controlled household…

Fast-forward a number of years, and a marriage and mortgage later we now seem to be living more like roommates, awesome roommates, but roommates nonetheless. We split chores around the house pretty evenly, with one picking up the slack is either one of us gets bogged down with other things. From the outside, our lives are the picture of perfection – spotless and neatly landscaped home, nice and well maintained cars, yearly vacations, etc.

The whole situation is not helped by his job, and career in general, which involves working odd hours. There’s just no getting around that, the industry that he’s in pretty much ensures that that’s the way it’s going to be, and first shift positions are few and far between and usually awarded based on seniority. We’re both in our early thirties, so that seniority will be a long time coming. Right now, he’s on an alternating schedule where he works two twelve hour shifts one week and the next week works five twelve hour shifts the next week. On account of that, we really don’t see too much of each other so I’m left feeling lonely quite often.

Sex has become a scheduled occurrence usually happening once a month, twice if we’re really lucky. Maybe that would have been fine when I wasn’t feeling all that great about myself and was heavier, but now that I’ve lost weight my libido seems to have sky-rocketed. In terms of his priorities though, sex ranks very, very, low on his list with sleep and chores coming in at the top. I actually sent him a racy text message a week or two ago, asking if he was up for sex later, his response a flat ok. Oh and romance, romance is non-existent – I get flowers only on Valentine’s day and only because I set a reminder on his phone. He claims that he shows his love for me by taking care of us financially (he does make quite a bit more than me), and the house, and my car, etc.

So, here I am with this roommate of a husband and I feel lonely, disconnected, and sort of fed up with him. After all these changes that I’ve made to myself in the past year or so, I guess that maybe I feel a bit hurt that he won’t take the initiative to make similar changes so that we can both enjoy each other more and just generally feel healthier and more in-tune with one another. I suppose that I could also be feeling that it’s a little unfair, I’ve done all this work on myself and I get no comments or appreciation – no “Wow, honey you look fantastic” or “Wow, honey you’ve really inspired me to start working out/quit smoking/etc.” He’s the only one that seems to have not really noticed – coworkers are constantly complementing me, I’m getting much more attention from men now. At the very least I’d like him to put the same effort into our marriage, but to him there’s no problem. I suppose that I have become “un-invisible” now, and damn it I’d like him to treat me like that too!

I have tried implementing a sort of rule that on the two Saturdays per month that he’s off we go on dates to try to reconnect, but they have been all up to me to plan, and have seemed sort of forced, or resulted in some sort of epic fail (i.e. a fight over something stupid). Now that I’ve made all these changes, I want to go out, be seen, have fun, and he wants to sit at home because he’s tired all the time. We can’t even do that peacefully though because all he ever wants to do at home is watch movies (a high point of contention since he only likes action movies so I’m always having to settle for those) or play video games (something that I’m not really into).

When I’ve tried to talk to him about our marriage or sex, or anything “too serious” in his opinion he gets really defensive and often just tries to change the subject. He actually once said, “What, you’re not happy again?” And God forbid I should mention an admirable quality about another guy we know, because then I get the super mature, “Well, then why don’t you just go and marry so-and-so.”

I’m at the point where I just don’t know what to do. Is this even fixable? Maybe I’m expecting too much from him as he claims? I’m not a jump-into-divorce sort of person, but I don’t know what to do anymore. And to add to the problem, I've just found out that he's going to be going on first shift come the new year. While I should be excited, I'm terrified that we won't know how to live with each other anymore.

I apologize for the very long post, but any advice would be much appreciated.

-Mademoiselle
 

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OK, here's what you do.

You TELL HIM EVERYTHING YOU PUT HERE.

You tell him that he needs to start addressing these issues because you can't see yourself living this way for the rest of your life. You TELL him that the two of you are going to counseling to sort all of this out and most importantly, you FIRST tell him you love him!

While I don't work 12 hour shifts (what type of work is it anyway?) I do leave the house at 6 AM and return at 7 PM and this is not a problem for us. Are you also working full time? How many hours?

Also, please note that while some of this is on his shoulders, you'll also need to be ready to compromise to make this work
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Toffer, thanks for reading and your suggestions.

I was thinking about putting everything I put here, plus a bit more, in an email and sending it off to him since he tends to get so defensive when we try to speak one-on-one. At least that way he'll have a chance to think about it before rashly replying. I suppose that your comments will be the motivation for me to do so.

I'm terrified though that he'll say, "If you're so unhappy, why don't you leave." That's not at all what I want if I can help it.

I have a feeling that he'll be incredibly resistant to counseling since he tends to be of the opinion that they are of no use. And, most of the time he seems to be sort of on auto-pilot or denial preferring to believe that the issues are non-existent. But, as with your other suggestion, I'll try....

He works does industrial HVAC on skyscrappers, hospitals, hotels, etc. - all 24/7 shops. I also work full time, and to make matters worse we both have awful commutes (e.g. 1+ hours)

I understand that there will be a need for compromise, when isn't there. It's just that I feel that I'm the one compromising more often than not - where we go on dates, what we eat, the movies we watch.

Again, thanks much for your advice. Gosh, this is SO difficult.

-Mademoiselle
 

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Have you asked him if he's happy being married... and more importantly being married to YOU? I'd be trying to find out what he thinks marriage is. Finacial contributions of a spouse don't keep a marriage going. It's only one part of it. You don't need a sponsor, you need a husband.
 

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M,

I also commute about 1 to one and a half hours each way although my job isn't physically challenging like his

Again, I think the most imporatant thing is to not use any type of accusatory language with him. Instead of sentences like "You never let me pick the movie" and "You don't sepnd enough time with me" try using sentences like "I feel at times that I don't get to choose the movie" and "I feel that I'd like us to spend more time together"

Perhaps you can tell him that "Honey, I love you with all my heart and I want to spend the rest of my life growing old with you but I have some concerns that I'd like to talk to you about so we can fix things and make our life together even better"

I would also tell him that "I will do anything to get us back to how we were x years ago and that I am hoping that you feel the same way. If you do, I hope you'll seriously consider MC with me even though I know you don't place much value on it. Would you do it for me?"
 

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Congratulations on the weight loss & pulling yourself out of depression.

He's happy with the "status quo" & shuts you down when you voice your concerns & feelings. Very common.

You can go to marriage counseling alone; I did. That may wake him up. Also, create a life for yourself. Go out with your friends & ask him if would like to join you. Get your own hobbies & watch movies you like.
 

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-A Bit Much,

I have asked him once or twice if he was happy. He has always responded that he was, but perhaps I need to make the question more focused on our marriage itself, not just life in general.

Sometimes I wonder though if he's being honest about that. With his social skills, he seems the type that would be okay without being married and instead surrounding himself with friends. But, we can't read minds so I'm going to have to ask...

Thanks for the suggestions.
 

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M,

Again, I think the most imporatant thing is to not use any type of accusatory language with him. Instead of sentences like "You never let me pick the movie" and "You don't sepnd enough time with me" try using sentences like "I feel at times that I don't get to choose the movie" and "I feel that I'd like us to spend more time together"

Perhaps you can tell him that "Honey, I love you with all my heart and I want to spend the rest of my life growing old with you but I have some concerns that I'd like to talk to you about so we can fix things and make our life together even better"

I would also tell him that "I will do anything to get us back to how we were x years ago and that I am hoping that you feel the same way. If you do, I hope you'll seriously consider MC with me even though I know you don't place much value on it. Would you do it for me?"
I will definitely be trying this approach as I do tend to be accusative when we talk - have to work on that :eek:

Thanks for the wonderful suggestions!
 

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Congratulations on the weight loss & pulling yourself out of depression.

He's happy with the "status quo" & shuts you down when you voice your concerns & feelings. Very common.

You can go to marriage counseling alone; I did. That may wake him up. Also, create a life for yourself. Go out with your friends & ask him if would like to join you. Get your own hobbies & watch movies you like.
Emerald,

How exactly does marriage counseling by oneself work? I'm a bit nervous to take that leap since I am still seeing my regular therapist monthly. Two therapists is likely to set off some alarm bells, probably more in the insurance/finance department, but if that's what it takes...

Also, my co-worker (the only other person who I could confide to about this matter) and I were just discussing the going out with friends suggestion and I'm going to do that too.

Thanks so much for your help!
 

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He very well could be feeling like a hamster on a wheel, just because of work and his commute. Job dissatisfaction can be pretty serious. Not only that, but if he somehow feels he's not as acheived as he would like to be at this stage in his life, it can be pretty depressing too.

I would ask the focused question about your marriage, not just about his life in general. Gauge his response by his body language, not just his words.
 

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What helped me in marriage counseling alone the most was to see my part of the problems. Maybe your individual therapist can help.
 

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What helped me in marriage counseling alone the most was to see my part of the problems. Maybe your individual therapist can help.
Eh, it's a topic I haven't actually ever discussed with her. The hubs tried to be supportive, which in his way was giving me space since he didn't know how else to deal, when I hit major depressive episodes. That's about all she knows of the hubs.

I know that it's my therapist and all, and I should be able to talk with her about everything, but I guess I feel a bit embarrassed, like, "Oh, so you have depression, this issue, that issue, and now marital problems. Wow." I know, completely unreasonable since they're not there to judge.

I suppose that since every other aspect of my life that we have discussed in that past has been going well that I'll have to bring it up in our next session...
 

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He very well could be feeling like a hamster on a wheel, just because of work and his commute. Job dissatisfaction can be pretty serious. Not only that, but if he somehow feels he's not as acheived as he would like to be at this stage in his life, it can be pretty depressing too.

I would ask the focused question about your marriage, not just about his life in general. Gauge his response by his body language, not just his words.
That may be a contributing factor. He's been itching for a promotion for a while and to finally get moved to first shift, but it's been difficult finding a replacement for him amongst other things. And, he is extremely good at what he does so I'm sure that he would like to be further up his career ladder too.

Regarding the body language bit, could you elaborate please?

Thanks so much!
 

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Don't complain about what's not happening. Tell him what you would like to happen. Be specific. I would like us to start having sex x times a week. I would like it if you paid me some compliments, and put your hands on me more. I would like it if...

Do it in a non-confrontational tone, and whatever you do don't make him feel like he's failing at it now.
 

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Body language can tell you more than his words. Women are more wordy and expressive, and thats how we communicate and understand each other. Men aren't wired this way... words and expressions are more difficult. If he tenses up, gets furrowed brows and folds his arms, he's getting upset or guarding his true feelings because he feels uncomfortable.

I think by his body language you'll know whether to press him or stop the conversation and pick it up another time. You want him in a place where he's relaxed enough to talk and share something vulnerable.
 

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Don't complain about what's not happening. Tell him what you would like to happen. Be specific. I would like us to start having sex x times a week. I would like it if you paid me some compliments, and put your hands on me more. I would like it if...

Do it in a non-confrontational tone, and whatever you do don't make him feel like he's failing at it now.
Again, this is a new approach for me to try, but at this point I'll try anything. I've already told him that I'd like to make it a goal of having sex at least once a week. And to show that I'm serious I've started marking it on a calendar that he passes by several times a day so he knows if we're on track or not. Silly, but I couldn't think of anything else - I mean am I supposed to bribe him or something? :scratchhead:

I'll try asking about the other things, we'll see...
 

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Body language can tell you more than his words. Women are more wordy and expressive, and thats how we communicate and understand each other. Men aren't wired this way... words and expressions are more difficult. If he tenses up, gets furrowed brows and folds his arms, he's getting upset or guarding his true feelings because he feels uncomfortable.

I think by his body language you'll know whether to press him or stop the conversation and pick it up another time. You want him in a place where he's relaxed enough to talk and share something vulnerable.
Eh, this is going to be difficult to pick up on. He's a very "stiff" kind of person, if that makes any sense (i.e. not comfortable dancing, even around the house by himself), so he doesn't really have a lot of "tells" as to how he's feeling if he's internalizing his feelings.
 

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Eh, this is going to be difficult to pick up on. He's a very "stiff" kind of person, if that makes any sense (i.e. not comfortable dancing, even around the house by himself), so he doesn't really have a lot of "tells" as to how he's feeling if he's internalizing his feelings.
Well if thats the case the direct order may be just the ticket like Drover suggests.
 
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