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I don't even know where to start. My marriage is complicated to say the least; my husband and I have been married for 2.5 years but we have only spent about 1 year of that together (we've been together for a total of 5 years). I'm Canadian and he is American and so sometimes distance was something we had no control because of residency issues. For the past two years I've been living about 9 hours away from him where I was completing my masters degree. I was able to move to where he was living for 4 months because I got an internship in the same city he was living in. As of June I moved to a new city and he moved to finally live with me in September. I'm still working on my thesis and working part-time so a lot of things have been difficult for me. Even though things have been difficult I was able to start of life for myself here with making new friends and playing on various sport teams. My husband on the other hand moved here with a very sour attitude. He didn't want to live in this city and so to him everything was horrible here. It didn't help that he had a messed up arm and foot so he was unable to play any sports and make some new friends. In addition, he was looking for a job which took a while. After about 4 months he was finally able to get a job but of course it didn't pay him as well as his last job so I would hear everyday about how he felt used and under-paid. I would tell him all the time that it just takes some adjustment and things will work out it's just your first job here and you will work up from here. I would empathize with his feelings and give him suggestions to help make things better for example, I suggested finding a part-time just to have something to do while looking for a job. Or to go to the library career centre to have them help with job searches. I also pushed him to hang out with the couple of friends that he had here-I would literally drive him over there and pick him up later just so he didn't have to worry about transit.

Even though I felt very drained from my thesis and work I tried very hard to support him and push him to find his niche here. After a while though I just couldn't deal with his months and months of negative attitude. He wouldn't even go anywhere in the city unless I had taken him there before. So I felt like I was shouldering all of the emotional weight of the relationship. On top of this and probably because of all this stress I gained about 20 pounds. So I didn't really want to be touched b/c I didn't feel sexy anymore nor did he tell me that I looked okay, pretty or even good.

I believe I have set the stage for what is currently going on. We have been fighting all the time sometimes just little snips at each other and then sometimes complete cry fest and sleeping in separate rooms. This past weekend he took me away for a nice night at a hotel and dinner at a restaurant we had always wanted to eat at. Everything was good until later on in the evening when I had repeated something that I said earlier and he yelled at me for complaining all the time. I then proceeded to say "thanks for ruining this wonderful night" probably not the best thing to say.

Once we got home the next day we had a full out discussion about what was really going on and how we are both unhappy. I took it as an opportunity for each of us to find something small to work on and to keep bettering the relationship and he was hinting around about divorce or separation. He didn't actually say those terms but he did say we should maybe take a break and that we are going in separate directions, which I then pointed out to him that he was talking about separation and divorce. We ended up "making up" and saying that we are going to push through and find our happiness but I like to have a plan to change things otherwise if we keep doing the same thing won't it just bring us back to where we are now? I tried talking to him about getting some relationship books where we can work together at improving our selves but he doesn't want to read anything.

So how do I help us get better? How do I get my husband to work on some of our issues without pushing him away? I still see this wonderful future we could have but I think it will take a little more work and maybe a slightly different path to get there. If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear because I just don't know what to do right now.
 

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I wish I could help, but all I can say ATM is that things are very difficult if you've moved and are looking for work. It's probably worse on a man since we're socialized to be breadwinners. None of that is an excuse but sometimes regardless of your best efforts there are forces far beyond your control.

FWIW I think grad school can be really damaging to relationships for anyone older than 23. It requires a lot of time and can really get in the way of doing much else.

That said I'll hazard to guess that your husband feels like he's lost personal control of far more than he actually has. I'd suggest gently encouraging him to accept responsibility for himself without condescending. Maybe even avoid the words "responsibility," "negativity," etc., etc., and stock phrases. The trick is that this person has to come to see that their behavior is problematic, and I'd guess that underlying that behavior is a maladaptive thought-process or old emotional baggage that can't so much be reasoned with, yelled at, etc., so much as accepted and then worked into functional shape. It's true the economy sucks if you're a person looking for work or a house, and it's true that not being able to find work or losing a job can be very difficult, but it's also true that you've got to to do something about it one way or another. Ultimately you aren't responsible for this, he is, all you can hope to do is possibly help him open his eyes and get moving.

Or maybe it's just garden-variety depression. Are you in Canada? Why not send the guy to wait 20' to get a prescription for psychiatric meds? I haven't ever found drugs to help with the actual problem, but I have found them helpful in maintaining mood stability.

I did come across a study the other day that indicated that high "assessment" and low "motivation" IIRC tended to exacerbate procrastination and obssessive-compulsion. I found another one that indicated that performing tasks that require willpower is like a muscle--it needs to be practiced and it gets tired, the actual results being that if you ask people to do one task that requires intense focus or effort followed by a second and third task requiring intense focus or effort, they do more poorly on the second and third than someone who is "fresh" or who just did something really easy. The take-home I got was that you can't "do it all" one thing after another... One thing at a time, but you have to actually f-ing do something. So that take-home from that is to figure out what needs to happen (husband looks for work) and get started with that while allowing 'breaks' in the day to do stupid, brainless crap. Don't mow the lawn the go look for jobs. Look for work, take a break, then mow the lawn. Etc.

Not sure if any of that helps.

I'll tell you the one thing I can't understand, and my wife and I do this too, is that everything can become a make-or-break thing. If someone is making progress and change, don't coddle them but respect where they are if the effort and results show honesty and intention, that's what I'd ask of my wife.
 

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I'm sorry you all are going through a tough spot.


You can and should work on the weight gain and feeling sexy. How you feel about you comes from within and sometimes we cope with our feelings by eating. There are people 600lbs who feel sexy because they have something on the inside that can't be shaken. You have to get that back. Your goal should be to look in the mirror and say well "I might be 300lbs/bald/scarred by burns but I look good to me!" I am a fan of counseling so I would suggest that. I really don't think that has anything to do with your husband but you feeling good about you will have a positive effect on your relationship
 

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I was reading over the detailed posts here. I've never seen couples spontaneously recover their emotional connection with out some basic relationship-skills development and some targeted behavior change.

As far as procrastination goes, the best intervention strategies are behavioral. The treatment principals for life-interfering procrastination are the same as the positive reinforcement principals that normalize many autistic kids socially and academically or that drive the activation process that "cures" moderate clinical depression. It's all about positive reinforcement.

If it's ok to ask, does your husband give a reason for not reading relationship books?
 
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