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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am posting here in the Ladies' Lounge because I want to know from womens' perspectives if I'm just not a loving and caring enough as a husband. I know great husbands out there (cousins, friends, etc.), but I can't seem to even want to do the things they do for their wives. I'm wondering if it's because I'm the kind of person that just takes and takes and expects more and that's a big reason my marriage is the way it is today.

Here's some vital background information. Feel free to dig into my previous posts or ask me any questions. I appreciate your time and effort in reading this.

I met my wife while I was studying abroad. I was very carefree, optimistic, and happy at the expense of responsibility, maturity, and morality. My wife is almost the opposite. She's from a successful family and takes after her father: she's very careful, organized, ocd about being clean, etc. This comes at the expense of her happiness as she is always stressed out about something not working out. It might be of note that she is four years older. I am 27 and she is 31.

And so opposites attract and we started dating. Our relationship was always rocky. It was passionate and exciting (as it always is in the beginning), but full of fighting, breaking up, getting back together again, etc. Anyway, I left to come back to the states and we decided to do long distance. This was my final year in my undergrad, which I had dragged out on and off for almost nine years (had been kicked out of college and readmitted), and by the time spring time rolled around, I had forgotten about all the fights and only our blissful and frequent skype chats. By this time, while I wasn't the model human being of hard work, morality, and responsibility, I was making progress and I felt like while I wasn't passionately in love with this woman, she was the only person who could wake me up from my pathetic hedonistic life. I have always believed she's very wise which is one of the reasons I really like her. I rarely listen to other people, but I will listen to her advice. I reasoned that even though I wasn't madly in love with her, she was stable, unique, and someone I could learn to really love. I believe that some people can fall in love at first sight, while others develop it for one another. I figured I'd just fall into the other camp.

So I asked her if she wanted to get married (wasn't very romantic), and she was happy to do so. We got married that summer (which was summer of 2011). Fall of 2011 is when she moved here from her country and it's also when I started my first year of grad school. This is when all h*** broke loose. She's a city girl and I happened to be accepted to a well known school but in a small town. She hated the inconvenience of a small city, not having any friends, not being able to drive, not being able to speak the language fluently, and not having anything to do. She did start taking ESL classes, but everyday was a struggle for her because she hated taking classes with people 10 years younger than her (there were a few people her age).

We started fighting again all the time. I hated that she was always unhappy and complaining. I didn't lash out, but I did constantly express my unhappiness that she was unhappy. I did make it a point that I wish she could be happier. She's always lash out and fight back saying that I didn't understand how she felt and how much she hated her life here in the states. Eventually, I just gave in and stopped in that regard. I was constantly struggling myself as I was studying 70-80 hours a week and the rest of my time was spent with her either fighting or hanging out (mostly fighting).
Studying and going to classes for 10-12 hours and then coming home and fighting with my wife was how most of my days were spent. As I used to be a very poor student, I also suffered a lot of embarrassment being the idiot of the class and always not getting it. Reality came knocking on my door and delivered a message: you are gonna pay for all those years spent being a spoiled little brat.

I grew very resentful and increasingly unhappy as both my wife and I clearly didn't understand each others' situation and neither of us were willing to step up to help the other. From my perspective, I was upset that instead of having someone who I thought would help me through this grad school journey, I had someone who made it twice as hard (things like slamming doors, cabinets, throwing dishes and pots, crying, screaming, kicking my study room door while I was inside, etc.). Eventually though, I gave up on that perspective as I realized it was a selfish way to think of things. From her perspective, she probably (I can only guess) felt like she married some insensitive, selfish, ********* who couldn't be bothered to take care or love her. She often said she doesn't think I care about her. I don't think that's completely fair as I always tried to do more housework because I know it makes her happy, I always picked her up from school no matter what, and tried to do my part to keep the house clean. On a couple occasions, I planned a trip for us nearby (but that turned out terribly as all we did was fight). I probably could have done more, but I was always exhausted as I average around 6 hours of poor quality sleep and endured very mentally tiring days. But yes, since I was resentful, her happiness didn't always come first. I often did try to box her out mentally because I couldn't take it anymore. It's like God sent her here to do two things: to straighten me out, and then to make me miserable.

This continued to happen for an entire year until this past summer. The one bright spot of the year was that I got an internship with a prestigious financial firm. This is important because she comes from a wealthy family and so she is used to buying luxury goods (they make her feel secure) and living a good life. I never complain about her spending habits so no stress here (obviously this isn't so great for our future - more on this later). For the summer, we moved back to the big city and she seemed happier there. Still, I was working about 70 hours a week and any extra left over time was spent with family (my family lives in that city as does her married sister with 2 kids). This past summer was a nice break from all the fighting, we are probably resentful from all the previous fighting. Anyway, the summer passed by all right, I got a job offer, and our future is set in that regard. Thank god, right? Guess again.

This fall is my second year of grad school and is set to end in Dec. 2012 assuming I pass all the necessary exams and get all the requisite grades. This hasn't been easy at all as although we still aren't fighting, she's still never smiling and always unhappy. She went for one month back to her country after getting her green card and was generally happy it seems. However, she developed some stomach issues and currently still has them. She has to eat pretty bland food for a while and that contributes to making her unhappy all the time. At this point, I am still studying between 70-80 hours a week and finally, finally concluded the qualifying exams yesterday.

At this point, I know I am getting close to my breaking point. I can feel it physically with my body and I seem to care less and less about her. I used to force myself to hug and comfort her and say nice things. Now I can't even force myself to. I am naturally a happy and optimistic person so yea it does bug me when someone is pessimistic and thinks life sucks. I'm to the point where I do want to give up and just say I'm out of here, go figure out your problems on your own. I HATE her perspective on life. I get that she is lonely here...but if it were me I'd go out and try to make some friends. I'd go take some classes from the university that I might be interested in. I've told her I'd be supportive of her going back to our city and starting a job or something first and I'll meet her there.

I know I'm probably not doin her side justice so please feel free to play devil's advocate. What do you guys think? Obviously we've both contributed to this mess. But how am I supposed to be comforting, loving, etc. going forward? I've played the role of caretaker for the last 1.5 years and I honestly hate being the one who always has to take care of the other. I like doing it if it's a periodic thing as I understand everyone goes through hard times and needs someone. Is the best thing to do just to stand by and let her work through these feelings on her own? I hate seeing an unhappy face all the time. Sometimes I don't want to comfort her and to tell her just to get over it. Can anyone here identify with her? I've spoken to a couple girls in her shoes (they came over b/c their husbands were studying for their degree), and they seemed to love the time off. It seems so tempting to me to just pack my bags and leave...degree and job in hand! (The thought has crossed my mind but I don't really entertain the idea...although I'm starting to because I don't want to be unhappy for the rest of my life).

And yea, we do have problems in our sex life. She doesn't want to have it and yes I used to bug her about it all the time. I don't nearly as much now since I don't even feel attracted to her anymore (I bug her when we're happy and having fun doing something else). I also realize that having a bad relationship isn't very conducive to a great sex drive if you're a woman. We have very plain vanilla sex probably every other week with nothing in between.

I feel like I can't ever win with this woman!!! It's like she was the unfortunate victim of poor genetics and is actually INCAPABLE of being happy. She has said herself that she isn't a happy person in general. I'm starting to genuinely not like her as an individual and I feel like moving back to the city after my degree is our last chance to get things right. Kids are on the horizon, but I've sworn to myself we aren't going to try until we can get our act together (she says that all couples have problems). I just want to be happy!!
 

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Just a quick question, are you you unhappy seeing her unhappy because causes you distress seeing her miserable or because it's a inconvenience to you?
 

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JNYU, given your desire to obtain the ladies' opinions, I will say only that I'm very glad to see you starting another thread to discuss your situation. Eight months is way too long to be going threadless!:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
hey uptown =)

Thanks for the welcome back. I still visited periodically and would chime in on a couple threads, but in general couldn't motivate myself to write about my situation. I also thought that I'd try to change the way I saw my wife and thought that maybe being in the city for the summer would help her situation. Things definitely aren't as bad as before, but it could be due to avoiding confrontation rather than resolution of real problems. At any rate, thanks for all your input from before. It was helpful reading about your situation and hearing your advice. It was also comforting too.

Abitlost - It's definitely not because it's inconvenient. I get that people go through tough times and need someone to comfort them. But isn't there a point where the other person needs to take responsibility for her own happiness and actions? If someone has a chronic disease, I think that's very different. But to me, people are responsible for themselves. Your spouse is there to offer support and help of course, but you have to be part of the solution as well.
 

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Do you think given her cultural background she would be willing to go to marriage counseling with you?

Another question, is it possible she is suffering from depression?

On the one hand, you're both young, no children, and very different. Perhaps it's easier to throw the towel in. On the other hand, she is away from her family, her home country, located in a place that's not to her liking so you should cut her some slack (and it looks like you have if what you say is true) for a while longer.

What's her typical day like while you're at school?

What does she say in response to taking responsibility for her happiness and actions? I assume you've brought that up in conversations with her.
 

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A few things come to mind. Given your tone and everything, I feel like you are really trying, so you in terms of your "am I being unreasonable" and whatnot, I think probably not. That being said, it's always hard to assess such a long and complicated relationship. The two of you seem to be genuinely different people. Not just your outlooks on life, but age sometimes factors in as well. sAlso...I couldn't help noticing that you said you proposed because you thought you'd be able to fall in love with her, instead of love at first sight. Still, I felt it was implied you weren't in love when* you proposed, which might also be an underlying issue. Acting out of love and acting out of honor/responsibility is different. So after all this time....do you love her?

I completely agree with Coffee. I think you need to have a long conversation with her (especially since your exams and all are done), and talk about 1) what you two want from life longterm, 2) how the two of you see the current relationship situation, and 3) her unhappiness, whether it's because of moving to a foreign land or if it's something deeper, like depression, as Coffee suggests.

You're wise to wait on the kids thing until your relationship becomes stable. Using kids to temporarily fix something NEVER works. Relationships are mended only when two people come together in understanding. I'm going to stress communication. It'll be hard to bring up, but I think it's necessary. Try to be honest not only with her, but with yourself about the prospect of a future together. Try to resolve the many questions you have.

Wish you luck!
 

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I lived in a situation similar to yours in many ways, different in many. My H and I are both academics & met essentially when we had finished our doctorates, so there was no grad school stress. We wound up together and married in another culture where he was very happy with work that was gratifying & I was very stressed out with work that seemed like drudgery. I became angry, unhappy and resentful; he became angry and resentful of my unhappiness and resentment.

We moved so far apart that I thought our marriage wouldn't make it. He said that he just believed I was a naturally pessimistic person & that he would have to learn to live with it. This enraged me, since I thought he was the one making me sad and angry & then tsk-tsking over my unhappiness - kind of like the person who breaks someone's leg and then bemoans the fact that that someone can't win the race.

Anyway, I was definitely depressed, but the depression was situational. I reached out one final time to my H & gave him my ideas of how we could change things. We moved and things improved dramatically.

We have two children, though, so that was both added stress & added impetus to make things work. By the time we made the final move, I believed that we were coming to a point of no return in how we were viewing one another. In his eyes, I was the negative, resentful shrew. In my eyes, he was the selfish striver who was incapable of empathy. It didn't help that he had an intact family that was happy to close ranks with him & I came from a family of independent sorts who thought this was none of their business. These things just served to broaden the gulf between us.

It is many years later now & we have a much stronger, happier marriage. I will say, though, that my anger from that time is still there. It is something I don't bring to my present or future, but is definitely there in my past.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Do you think given her cultural background she would be willing to go to marriage counseling with you?

Another question, is it possible she is suffering from depression?

On the one hand, you're both young, no children, and very different. Perhaps it's easier to throw the towel in. On the other hand, she is away from her family, her home country, located in a place that's not to her liking so you should cut her some slack (and it looks like you have if what you say is true) for a while longer.

What's her typical day like while you're at school?

What does she say in response to taking responsibility for her happiness and actions? I assume you've brought that up in conversations with her.
We tried marriage counseling once through the university and sex was brought up and she got really embarrassed. Afterwards she vowed never to go again and says it's not for her. I don't bring it up anymore (going to MC) because of this experience.

I think it's possible she is suffering from depression. It's really hard for me to say because I have very little experience with it. My guess is she's depressed because of her situation, not because that's just who she is. However, while I don't remember the depression before getting married, I remember her being very emotional and having a really bad temper. She's very good at hiding herself from the real world. In fact we both are...we're the type of couple where you think everything is going great but when we get home, the teeth come out.

When I think about the past year and a half, I definitely do have regrets about my actions. I was a really bad bf to the girls I date in the past and I didn't really realize that until recently. I'm not giving her a hard time about things as much anymore and usually just leave her alone. It definitely is still hard to live with someone who is constantly unhappy but I think I'll wait at least until we move back to the big city and things calm down a bit.

Her typical days are pretty boring. She stays at home all day because she can't drive and it's a small town so there isn't much to do anyway. I can see how that would start to drive one crazy...

and ya I've given her that spiel about being responsible for her own happiness. Never again! Basically, it's like one of the worst questions you can ask her. She just ends up saying I'm blaming her for her unhappiness like her mom does and that I'm being a terrible husband etc. I'm OK with this answers because I think people are built differently and while it'd be awesome to be married to someone who thought like that, it's not in my cards.

Thanks for the questions! Hope it clarifies and gives you some info to work with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A few things come to mind. Given your tone and everything, I feel like you are really trying, so you in terms of your "am I being unreasonable" and whatnot, I think probably not. That being said, it's always hard to assess such a long and complicated relationship. The two of you seem to be genuinely different people. Not just your outlooks on life, but age sometimes factors in as well. sAlso...I couldn't help noticing that you said you proposed because you thought you'd be able to fall in love with her, instead of love at first sight. Still, I felt it was implied you weren't in love when* you proposed, which might also be an underlying issue. Acting out of love and acting out of honor/responsibility is different. So after all this time....do you love her?

I completely agree with Coffee. I think you need to have a long conversation with her (especially since your exams and all are done), and talk about 1) what you two want from life longterm, 2) how the two of you see the current relationship situation, and 3) her unhappiness, whether it's because of moving to a foreign land or if it's something deeper, like depression, as Coffee suggests.

You're wise to wait on the kids thing until your relationship becomes stable. Using kids to temporarily fix something NEVER works. Relationships are mended only when two people come together in understanding. I'm going to stress communication. It'll be hard to bring up, but I think it's necessary. Try to be honest not only with her, but with yourself about the prospect of a future together. Try to resolve the many questions you have.

Wish you luck!
Thanks! To answer your question...I think I loved her in some ways but it definitely wasn't a head over heels sort of thing. There were things that I really liked about her but I was always sort of lukewarm. Currently, I do do a lot of things out of duty and responsibility and I do try to mimic loving actions (buying flowers, holding her hand, hugging, etc.) in hopes that it'll turn into real love. The situation sucks because when she's unhappy, angry, and being unpleasant, it's hard for me to just keep that smile on my face and keep doing those nice things. She's probably smart enough to see through it all...

I have done my fair share to deserve this and I think I haven't talked enough about what I've done to contribute to it...I'm not a very empathetic person so from the get go I had very little sympathy for her. Alte dame enlightened me greatly by giving her side of the story and it's why I've stopped trying to be judgmental and be more empathetic. I try harder to be happy despite our issues...but sometimes I feel like it's so unfair. She can express unhappiness, slam things, and be unpleasant, and it's like I have to keep wearing this smile and keep doing nice things (the exact thing she complains she feels I want her to do!). Recently, I have to admit, I still have spent little time at home, but it's more than before. And rather than plopping myself in front of the computer right away, I spent more time talking to her. She's not as unpleasant as before, but she is at least angry a couple times a day. Just now she pushed my half closed door and it slammed against the wall. I got up and asked her what's wrong and she just said she wanted to know what I was doing (she had a scowl on her face). If you want to know what I'm doing, why don't you just ask! I bothered her a little about sex today (going on one month) but I didn't push the issue...but maybe that has something to do with it.

Anyway, all this input is helping a lot. Thank you guys so much. It's given me some more energy and I feel like I can be the one to contribute a little more effort and see if we can make any progress. Although...I often where the end of the tunnel is and when I get to start being treated well! She has started cooking though recently and I have to admit it's pretty good...I definitely let her know that. But yea, I don't expect it to be permanent cuz she has said she hates doing housework and wants to work. That reminds me that one time when we were fighting (recently) she said that some people like educated, classy, ladies...but I only like the obedient air headed japanese-types I used to date...well you know what? They were very nice to me while I was a jerk bf ... yea they weren't all that smart, but they knew how to make me smile (and no not like that always) and 90% of my memories with those types of girls were good. It's the other way in this marriage...

Sorry this turned out to be more rant like. She's waiting for me to come to bed so I just wrote everything that came to my mind...sorry if I insulted anyone here. Like I said, what I really like about my wife is that she is wise and intelligent...it's the temper tantrums and poor attitude I could do without!
 

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...and ya I've given her that spiel about being responsible for her own happiness. Never again! Basically, it's like one of the worst questions you can ask her. She just ends up saying I'm blaming her for her unhappiness like her mom does and that I'm being a terrible husband etc. I'm OK with this answers because I think people are built differently and while it'd be awesome to be married to someone who thought like that, it's not in my cards.
That's a big red flag. Sounds like she was not a happy person at home with her family either.

Since you had a long distance relationship you never got to really know her before marriage. It takes at least a year of dating where you can see the person often in their natural environment to get to know them. It was easy for her to put on a happy face with you.

I've spent a good part of my life moving from one place to another; first due to my father's job and in adult life do marriage, jobs, etc. I've probably lived in a couple of dozen places around the world to include all over the USA.

I've liked every place I've lived. I've always been happy. Even with life's worst challenges I would never behave as she does. And I've had some real challenges (Like losing children, cheating spouse, etc).

My point is that a person is about as happy as they make up their mind to be. There is so much she could have done in your college community. There is probably even a social group from her own country that she could join.

Her mom was right, as are you. She is responsible for her own happiness.. that includes finding a way to be happy anywhere she is living. There she was in the first years of marriage to a man she loves and she cannot find happiness?

She was a bit better this last summer… but still not a happy person.

Your education has been challenging. I’ve been through the 70-80 hour weeks of study and the job that is often just as many hours. I cannot imagine going through this with the lack of support and drama she has brought into your marriage. I’m leaning towards you are a saint for not sending her back home a long time ago.

You cannot change her. What you see is what you get. The only thing you can change is yourself and how you interact with her.
 

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I think your W is beating herself up inside for making her own choice to stay mired in her situation. I think she feels trapped & asks herself why she is caught. She's an educated person who apparently doesn't have good job opportunities because of your lifestyle right now. She has a husband who is immersed in the typical grad school grind, which is all-encompassing mentally and emotionally & is well-known for creating damaging distance between couples. Add in the cultural differences and the small town & she has a perfect storm.

And you feel pressure because she's not happy, so she swings internally between feeling guilty that she's not overcoming her unhappiness for your sake & just deciding to be the educated, independent woman that she thought she was, and making the decision to leave for her own sanity.

The gulf between you enrages her. She asks how you could so blithely be content with your work and life, separating your own happiness from hers so well. She feels little to no empathy from you.

My H used to say that he couldn't make me happy; only I could make myself happy. And this is true. But...he did an awful lot to actively make me unhappy as he went about his life, behaving every day with aggressive self-interest. He could have done a lot better in those years if he'd just tried to step into my shoes, if he'd tried to have some compassion.

I didn't have your W's life. I had two little children and a job & a H who was so focused on his work that he paid little attention to the fact that you could peel me off the wall at the end of any day. The disparity in our quality of life was so enormous that it couldn't hold for long. But the dynamic you describe is familiar.

I have compassion for your W. I think you are spoiled & don't truly realize it. If the tables were turned, how long do you think you would last in her situation? I gave my H a few months at most - in my shoes, he would have been out the door in just a few short months.
 

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That's a big red flag. Sounds like she was not a happy person at home with her family either.

Since you had a long distance relationship you never got to really know her before marriage. It takes at least a year of dating where you can see the person often in their natural environment to get to know them. It was easy for her to put on a happy face with you.

I've spent a good part of my life moving from one place to another; first due to my father's job and in adult life do marriage, jobs, etc. I've probably lived in a couple of dozen places around the world to include all over the USA.

I've liked every place I've lived. I've always been happy. Even with life's worst challenges I would never behave as she does. And I've had some real challenges (Like losing children, cheating spouse, etc).

My point is that a person is about as happy as they make up their mind to be. There is so much she could have done in your college community. There is probably even a social group from her own country that she could join.

Her mom was right, as are you. She is responsible for her own happiness.. that includes finding a way to be happy anywhere she is living. There she was in the first years of marriage to a man she loves and she cannot find happiness?

She was a bit better this last summer… but still not a happy person.

Your education has been challenging. I’ve been through the 70-80 hour weeks of study and the job that is often just as many hours. I cannot imagine going through this with the lack of support and drama she has brought into your marriage. I’m leaning towards you are a saint for not sending her back home a long time ago.

You cannot change her. What you see is what you get. The only thing you can change is yourself and how you interact with her.
But why would she be happy in a foreign country and married to someone who doesn't really love her?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That's a big red flag. Sounds like she was not a happy person at home with her family either.
I've spent a good part of my life moving from one place to another; first due to my father's job and in adult life do marriage, jobs, etc. I've probably lived in a couple of dozen places around the world to include all over the USA.

I've liked every place I've lived. I've always been happy. Even with life's worst challenges I would never behave as she does. And I've had some real challenges (Like losing children, cheating spouse, etc).
I think this was the perspective I was coming from before. I've come to realize though that people aren't as lucky as we are in this regards though. It's really nice to always be able to get through things and be optimistic, but I think it bugs the heck out of a lot of people!

My point is that a person is about as happy as they make up their mind to be. There is so much she could have done in your college community. There is probably even a social group from her own country that she could join.
That's absolutely how I saw things. I stopped thinking like that because it got me into a lot of trouble with her. I played basketball once with a guy in my situation and from the same country as my wife. He was married and his wife offered to talk to mine and mentioned that they do weekly pot lucks with international wives who got stuck here because of their husbands. No dice. She said she just didn't want to meet her and that was that.

Your education has been challenging. I’ve been through the 70-80 hour weeks of study and the job that is often just as many hours. I cannot imagine going through this with the lack of support and drama she has brought into your marriage. I’m leaning towards you are a saint for not sending her back home a long time ago.
Even though I'm far from being a saint, I appreciate you saying that and it was really nice to read that.

You cannot change her. What you see is what you get. The only thing you can change is yourself and how you interact with her.
I used to think that things would change eventually...but you're probably right on this. I'm just really hoping it's the circumstances here and that our move back to the city will make a difference.

Last night I went to bed to comfort her...just tried to rub her back and hips and be nice. She said she hates her life here like she usually does, and I said things will get better when we move back to the big city again. This time though...she said how is that going to change anything? I said well you could get a job if you want, you could go back to school if you want (there's a great, well known university in that area with tons of people her ethnicity), or you could do nothing if you wanted...and it seemed like that didn't help at all. It's this type of thing that's really hard for me to swallow...it's like she's always looking at the pessimistic side of things and that drives me crazy. Sometimes it's nice just to hear some positive things despite all issues we might have to deal with. She then said she has nothing. I asked what she meant, and she said I don't have friends, I don't have a career...and other people have husbands who treat them well. At this point I stopped stroking her back and went silent. I feel like it's so unfair that she gets to attack me all the time (she calls me names too), but I rarely do so. When I was really angry in the past, I called her the "b" word (that was earlier in our relationship and I haven't done so in a very long time, and will not do so in the future; I've learned that no matter what poor treatment I get, I shouldn't go there myself).

And just to give the full picture...yea me bothering her about sex again was why she was angry last night. She kicked the bed a couple times and sighed loudly, etc. She said she is fearful every day that I bring it up (I'm fearful every day she's going to be angry about something)...so anyway after a few minutes of thinking of whether or not I'd actually be able to go through with it...I promised her no sex for at least one month. I've really done a poor job of this in the past, and the sex thing is one reason I often mention I've contributed a lot to what's happened. She says she'd feel worse than a ***** if she gave in to me...so obviously I backed off really quickly...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I became angry, unhappy and resentful; he became angry and resentful of my unhappiness and resentment.
Wow this sounds exactly like us actually.

He said that he just believed I was a naturally pessimistic person & that he would have to learn to live with it. This enraged me, since I thought he was the one making me sad and angry & then tsk-tsking over my unhappiness - kind of like the person who breaks someone's leg and then bemoans the fact that that someone can't win the race.
I said this exact thing to my wife...about a year ago when this all started, I even said to her it doesn't matter who she's with, she'd be unhappy. For the record, I do regret saying that and I've apologized to her a lot about the way I used to view her. I've learned that really...some things you say really can't be taken back.

In his eyes, I was the negative, resentful shrew. In my eyes, he was the selfish striver who was incapable of empathy. It didn't help that he had an intact family that was happy to close ranks with him & I came from a family of independent sorts who thought this was none of their business. These things just served to broaden the gulf between us.
I've definitely come to realize that my improvement as a student and some success as a professional isn't all good in her eyes...she's happy for me, but I think it kills her that I'm doing all this stuff while she can only wait on the sidelines.
[/QUOTE]

It is many years later now & we have a much stronger, happier marriage. I will say, though, that my anger from that time is still there. It is something I don't bring to my present or future, but is definitely there in my past.
This is where I hope we're headed! I am fearful that even if we get past this phase, that there's going to be all this anger. It's easier for me to get past these sorts of things, but my wife will remember it very clearly.

I think she feels trapped & asks herself why she is caught. She's an educated person who apparently doesn't have good job opportunities because of your lifestyle right now.
Man am I glad that you are bringing all these things up. It's like you KNOW my wife and our situation. I can see her saying all the things you are right now. Anyway, something of note: she did hate her career before marrying me. She doesn't want to go back to it. However she says she feels she's too old (almost 32) to go back, despite me constantly encouraging her to do so. I do feel sympathy, but I am definitely the type that believes that if you want something, well go and figure out how to get it. No one else should be expected to do so for you, significant other or not. That doesn't mean I won't support you, or I won't give you my opinions, or even do some research for you. But it does mean it's on you to figure out a road map and how I can help you.

She has a husband who is immersed in the typical grad school grind, which is all-encompassing mentally and emotionally & is well-known for creating damaging distance between couples. Add in the cultural differences and the small town & she has a perfect storm.
Just a side note here: you know exactly what grad school is like. If you were to be in my wife's situation given what you know now, wouldn't you be the least bit sympathetic for me? I'm almost certain you must have been in situations where you've been up to your ears in everything, working forever on never ending assignments, projects, qualifying exams, running on 5-6 hours of sleep for several months in a row...how would it make you feel to know that at home there is someone who's probably angry and is just waiting for you to say something to set her off? Try genuinely to put yourself in my/your husbands shoes. If this was just one day, I'd man up and say just control yourself. But you know the grind...every day is like this for the first two years of grad school. On the other hand, I've come to realize that women like you two (not in a bad way), think differently when it comes to this sort of thing. I've been with women who would think that I'm striving for both of our futures, and they'd be really supportive.

I get that you see us as selfish strivers...but not even an ounce of sympathy? I get headaches, my eyes hurt, I want to sleep, cry...but I don't complain and I just hold it all in. I celebrated passing my quals and oral exams by myself because I know how it'd make her feel and instead I just told her yea I passed no big deal. I cried for 15 minutes out in the parking lot at night when I found out the news...but I couldn't share this sort of information with her with the ways things are.

Even though I want to be diplomatic, I feel like I just need to ask this question (and please don't take it as an attack). This is the question I asked my wife in the beginning that made me her so angry, that is going to probably tick you off, and that ellegirl will probably completely understand from my vantage point: Why can't you just change your attitude and try to be happy? Why does the selfish striver have to be empathetic and make it HIS responsibility to make sure you are happy? Yes as a husband, I understand that's what we're supposed to do. But it IS a tremendous burden to think that for the rest of my life, it's on me to make sure we're both happy.

Why isn't it YOUR responsibility to make us both happy? How about I just sulk every day and complain about how much grad school sucks and that my head and body hurt every day? How about I stop being happy and start being miserable, would that change anything? Would it be better if I agreed with you every day that life sucks and let's just take it one day at a time?

As I've mentioned before, I've asked other girls in my program who went through what my wife did, and they looked at me dumbfounded. They were happy they could sit around the house, learn how to cook (that's what a girl said specifically) or whatever appealed to their interests. These aren't brainless bimbos. These are girls who are also smart as heck, already have a masters under their belt, and are just as independent and intelligent as my wife is. It seems to me that maybe it's just that their personality allowed them to look at things in an optimistic light. Given that you seem to be a bit more similar to my wife, how do you feel about this?

And you feel pressure because she's not happy, so she swings internally between feeling guilty that she's not overcoming her unhappiness for your sake & just deciding to be the educated, independent woman that she thought she was, and making the decision to leave for her own sanity.
Again, spot on. She brings up that she'd be willing to divorce if I want to. Sometimes she says it this way, sometimes she says angrily that she wants a divorce. After actually considering it for a while, I finally said OK once. Not to test her, but because I really felt like that's where we're headed.

The gulf between you enrages her. She asks how you could so blithely be content with your work and life, separating your own happiness from hers so well. She feels little to no empathy from you.

My H used to say that he couldn't make me happy; only I could make myself happy. And this is true. But...he did an awful lot to actively make me unhappy as he went about his life, behaving every day with aggressive self-interest. He could have done a lot better in those years if he'd just tried to step into my shoes, if he'd tried to have some compassion.
Sometimes I feel like some of it is just in her head. Being really intelligent and sensitive does have it's draw backs. She often puts words into my mouth and says I probably feel like this or that. Sometimes it's reasonable, sometimes I wonder where in the heck she got these ideas. And again, reverse roles with your husband, how do you feel now if I said, hey your husband is going to be pessimistic for the rest of both of your lives (because that's how we truly see it), and it's your responsibility to make this person happy. This person is going to say negative things all the time no matter the situation and will always be miserable. Your job is to just minimize the damage. Don't even think about being happy for the rest of your life, neutral is going to be the best you're going to get.

I didn't have your W's life. I had two little children and a job & a H who was so focused on his work that he paid little attention to the fact that you could peel me off the wall at the end of any day. The disparity in our quality of life was so enormous that it couldn't hold for long. But the dynamic you describe is familiar.
I have made the same mistakes your husband has...how does he feel about it all now that it's sort of passed? I can't believe you had to handle that while you had two little children and a job. I think you and my wife share a strength in that you guys can take a lot of pressure for a prolonged period of time. I think it's amazing, but sometimes I do wonder if the other side of that coin is that it's harder for you guys to be happy.

I have compassion for your W. I think you are spoiled & don't truly realize it. If the tables were turned, how long do you think you would last in her situation? I gave my H a few months at most - in my shoes, he would have been out the door in just a few short months.
I wish I could tell my wife that you are compassionate for her because I think it'd make her feel a lot better. Maybe I should find a way to tell her indirectly hahah.

I don't think I'm spoiled at all here though. I think if anything, we could say that I'm lucky I get to keep plugging and chugging along with my life...but I hardly think that means I'm spoiled at all. I'm grateful for that, but I don't think someone spoiled would have endured as much stress and pain as I did from both school and her. I don't think I got through grad school because of her, I think I got through it despite her. I know that's a very tasteless thing to say, but that's how I feel.
 

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But why would she be happy in a foreign country and married to someone who doesn't really love her?
Well, if you're like ellegirl and you knew the situation, you'd probably find some reason. I'm not sucking up here, but I know her mentality.

If it were me and the situation was reversed, I'd try to find a way to make my wife fall in love with me. Yea, I'd feel s**** about her not loving me, but I'd at least give it a try because I'd know sulking and being depressed wouldn't help. Yes it's a small city, but it's not the North Pole. She wanted to improve her English - hey maybe take some classes or make some friends. There are a ton of wives in the same situation...maybe hang out with a few and find some stuff to do. Don't know how to drive? Learn how!

I thought of a million things she could do and went out of my way to try and help her MAKE friends. I'd get phone numbers and contact info of wives from other grad friends. I was the one to get us into counseling.

I do believe optimism and happiness are contagious. My wife often says she's depressed because she thinks people are judging her all the time and always telling her what to do, etc. Contrast that to what a lady friend of mine said: how can people not like me? I'm so cute and happy. Parents can tell me all day what to do and I'll sit there and listen, but at the end of the day I'll decide for myself. Who do you want to be friends with? Let alone be married to? (and no I have no interest in my friend - she's bi, leaning towards gay. And no, she's not so attractive that guys just automatically like her).
 

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I'm going to answer you as well as I can here.

I'm not unsympathetic to you, but I also don't think it's so simple that your wife is just a pessimistic person.

You ask about myself and my husband. I can certainly relate to your grad school experience since I did my own PhD in a difficult program (your description of where you are makes me wonder if it's not the same place). Nobody ever thought of me as a negative personality. I met and fell in love with my H, a brilliant and wonderful intellect & we were off. I got cancer, we had two babies with problems as a result & my H got a job offer in another country. I said great! Let's do that! I'll get a job, we'll find a nanny & we'll have an adventure!

So we went & set up housekeeping & my H quickly became so enthralled with his job that he basically checked out of our home life. I worked full time, in another country, in another language & took care of the children when I got home & took care of the home. My H traveled app. 40-50% of the time, so I was essentially a single mom with no real support network.

So, yes, I was exhausted and very disheartened & it was difficult to not feel resentful, since he was having such a wonderful time all the time. Was I positive? As much as I could be. I certainly wasn't going to let my children down, so I made the best life I could.

But the divide between my H and me was enormous. And he had no empathy for my exhaustion or the fact that my life simply wasn't like the red-carpet life that he was leading.

You ask how my H feels now. He apologizes all the time. He says he should have tried to be less selfish. He says he's grown up a lot. And do you know what our children tell him? They tell him that I raised them. This hurts his feelings & I feel bad for him, because I love him, as I always have. We worked through things eventually & have been in a much better place now.

Am I a positive person? Generally speaking I try to find the good in things. I don't know about your W, but I think she may not be the organic pessimist that you think she is. I think it's very possible that the situation has her feeling hopeless and beaten down and depressed. This makes it hard to be upbeat and proactive.

I wish you luck. If you're in upstate NY, pm me. I could talk to your W.
 

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But why would she be happy in a foreign country and married to someone who doesn't really love her?
My take on it is that he loves her but not in the way that western culture likes to think of for marriage... the hot passionate love that usually ends in less than 2 years.

The model we have now of two people getting horny for each other, calling it love and then getting married before that settles into the reality of a more mature love is not working out very well, is it? Once that initial heady feeling wears off then we hear "I love you but I'm not in love with you." And off they run to have affairs. This is why our divorce rates are so high.

What I see in the OP is a young guy who truely cares for his wife and wants a good, happy marriage with her. He's baffled on what to do because he cannot fix this. Her behavior is her choice.

From his telling, she has made no attempt at fiiting in where she lives now. He cannot make her do this either.

This cannot all be put on him as though it's all 100% his fault.

She owns 50% of the state of their marriage and 100% for her yelling, bad mouthing, angry outburts, hitting things, kicking things... that's on her. Basically she is exhibiting abusive behavior towards him.
 

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I moved to the USA to be with my American husband about 16 months ago, not for him to go to school, but because he lives and works here. It's a pretty small city too so I know the feelings your wife must be having.

We've had financial difficulties (living with relatives while we got on our feet), we've fought a lot, I couldn't drive, I couldn't work for a long time, I had no friends, I was worse than a housewife because we didn't have our own place, I was a 'bedroomwife', and I'm sure I got pretty nasty to my husband when he was gone all day and I felt awkwardly stuck and didn't leave the bedroom for the entire day, for days at a time.

But you know what, he always loved me, and understood, and was strong for me. He basically had to baby me during that time because I felt helpless and acted helpless. Then we got our own place, I got myself a bus pass, I got my green card and a job, then a promotion, and then my driver's licence.

So I can understand some of your wife's distress, like feeling stuck, and I can understand you're sick of having to baby her. I can't understand that she seems to have her green card, but still isn't working? Not even part-time? Is there a reason for this? Is there a reason she isn't taking driving lessons? It's been a year and a half, I can't see any valid excuse.

You say she mentions the bad things often, but has she ever mentioned any solutions, i.e anything you two can do, or anything she can do, to make things better than they are now? For example, I knew that once we had our own place and I could work, I could be happier. So that's what we worked towards. Does she have anything for you two to work towards, or is everything centred around your own dreams/career aspirations?

Sorry for the long reply, but I've been there too and I hope I can help.
 

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But why would she be happy in a foreign country and married to someone who doesn't really love her?

I have to agree with this.

I am sorry OP, I didn't read all of your original post.....maybe you can consider this similar to the reaction you are getting from your wife.
It is hard to read (in her case listen) to your gripes and grumbles about your relationship. Although you say that you have done things to contribute to your current situation, you don't mention what "they" are. Infact most of what you have written is completely selfish and self-centered.
I am not looking to beat up the OP, but please go back and re-read what you wrote.

You state:

You are not mature. You shrug responsibilities. You have never been 'in love" with your partner (while dating or married). You like being carefree. When "you" decided it was wise for you to settle down "you" decided your girlfriend could become your wife and she could do it for you. (she was responsible afterall) You didn't want a partner you wanted a mother. She made an enormous sacrifice to move across the globe to be with you and one telling remark that you write is HERE YOU THOUGHT THIS PERSON COULD MAKE YOUR UNDERGRAD STUDIES EASIER AND YET SHE IS MAKING IT HARDER (paraphrasing here). Come on! She should have had nothing to do with your strategic education planning! You are USING HER and if you don't think she feels it in every ounce of her being you are kidding yourself.

I would be miserable too, not because I was lonely, but because the man I married didn't cherish me and only viewed me as valuable when he stood to gain something from me.

Does she play a part..yes, but you are never going to get her to hear what that part is until you stop the ...Me, me, me, me...talk.
With marriage you promised to love, honour and cherish...but it sounds (from what I have read) that you viewed marriage as a private business deal for one, that stood only to advance your purpose. How sad because marriage is supposed to be the coming together of two people for a common purpose.
Hope my perspective helps.
good luck to you.
 
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