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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all, I’m here looking for some strategies to cope with a difficult marriage. My husband and I have been married 5 years, and have two young children. It seems like the last two years have been the most difficult for me, but my husband thinks everything is fine. I’ve explained to him so many times that I am not satisfied with specific aspects of our marriage including lack of physical intimacy, and barriers to communication. I almost always feel invalidated when I bring up any concerns I have that don’t match his. I feel trapped, taken for granted, and pushed aside. He tells me that he is not responsible for my feelings, and little by little I feel I’m falling out of love with him.

I guess I’m ultimately looking for a way to emotionally detach from the situation and take a break for myself. I want to focus on me, my kids, and all the good things around me. My marriage seems to cast a dark shadow over the good things! I don’t want a divorce, but I hope to learn how to not be so upset by things my husband does or says.

Looking forward to getting to know everyone!

M
 

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You should purchase and read the books "His Needs, Her Needs", and "Love Busters", both by Dr. Harley. They will give you the knowledge you need in order to work toward your goal of a healthy marriage where both partners care for each other.

Emotionally detaching is not a good solution, and will only make you a different kind of unhappy. Which, at the end of the day, will likely lead to the end of your marriage. Your husband needs to become more invested in how what he does and says effects you. He needs to care about how you feel and what you think.

It's impossible to make someone care about something, but surely it wasn't always this way? What was he like when you were dating? Or in the earlier years of your marriage? What has changed?
 

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Hi M.

Welcome!

Might help to provide a little more info.

Hey all, I’m here looking for some strategies to cope with a difficult marriage. My husband and I have been married 5 years, and have two young children.
How young are your children?

It seems like the last two years have been the most difficult for me, but my husband thinks everything is fine.
Not totally unheard of. Some men can be a little dense and won't really make an effort to deal with something unless it is real, urgent and right in front of them. A lot of this is just how some of us are wired. Not all.

And talk doesn't always get them to do something about it. It's just talk.

I’ve explained to him so many times that I am not satisfied with specific aspects of our marriage including lack of physical intimacy, and barriers to communication. I almost always feel invalidated when I bring up any concerns I have that don’t match his.
OK. Can you elaborate on this a little?

Lack of physical intimacy? What exactly is the problem? Once a week, once a year, ED, another woman, what?

Barriers to communication is pretty vague. Can you be more specific?

So he invalidates your concerns when the concerns don't match his concerns. This is good. But are you sure? Is this just in general or related to the apparent lack of physical intimacy?

What exactly are you wanting from him? To listen? To solve the problem? What actions?

I feel trapped, taken for granted, and pushed aside. He tells me that he is not responsible for my feelings, and little by little I feel I’m falling out of love with him.
You are feeling a lot of resentment. Unappreciated. Ignored. Not uncommon that this will result in a woman "falling out of love".

As for your feelings, technically he is correct. He isn't responsible for your feelings. You are. But if he is putting you down, etc. then obviously there is some culpability there and he needs to fix that.

How would you rate him on a general empathy scale...1 to 10 with 10 being very empathetic to others?

How controlling is he?

I guess I’m ultimately looking for a way to emotionally detach from the situation and take a break for myself. I want to focus on me, my kids, and all the good things around me. My marriage seems to cast a dark shadow over the good things! I don’t want a divorce, but I hope to learn how to not be so upset by things my husband does or says.
Emotional detachment from a marriage isn't necessarily going to be a good thing for your marriage. More often than not this leads to separation and divorce. Be careful.

If you mean to put a little more focus on you, a little more focus on detaching from your own emotions and expectations, that might be a good thing.

How does all this look from the outside? If you were to observe yourself at 50000 feet up, what would you see?

Perhaps you should start with awareness of your own expectations. Are they realistic? Are you setting yourself up to get upset when people don't do what you expect or what you desire?

Have you read any relationship books? There are some good ones out there. Some are free pdf's.

You might start with Love Busters by Harley. Five Love Languages by Chapman.

There are a few others. Folks will chime in.

If you can get your H to read with you, then you might see some things improve. Counseling is always an option too...more expensive though.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your thoughts, Biofury!

I can see how detaching could lead to a new set of problems. It’s absolutely not what I wanted when I envisioned how my marriage would be. I long for a close, understanding, companionship but I can’t seem to achieve it. When I explain how I feel, he doesn’t seem to hear it. I don’t feel understood and he doesn’t want to try. He is a logical man, and I guess has a tendency to base things in pure black/white logic, and it’s been hard to get him to understand my point of view if it differs from his.


In the last two years I’ve given birth to our second child, we have moved, my husband has started a business. He’s a good dad, and he does things like tend to the kids and helps around with household chores. His family (my inlaws) are of a different cultural background that I am and we have dealt with various conflicts because they don’t accept me. I guess we have been through a lot in a short time.

I’ll look into those book suggestions, thank you.
 

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Thanks for your thoughts, Biofury!

I can see how detaching could lead to a new set of problems. It’s absolutely not what I wanted when I envisioned how my marriage would be. I long for a close, understanding, companionship but I can’t seem to achieve it. When I explain how I feel, he doesn’t seem to hear it. I don’t feel understood and he doesn’t want to try. He is a logical man, and I guess has a tendency to base things in pure black/white logic, and it’s been hard to get him to understand my point of view if it differs from his.


In the last two years I’ve given birth to our second child, we have moved, my husband has started a business. He’s a good dad, and he does things like tend to the kids and helps around with household chores. His family (my inlaws) are of a different cultural background that I am and we have dealt with various conflicts because they don’t accept me. I guess we have been through a lot in a short time.

I’ll look into those book suggestions, thank you.
Would you say that he cares about how you feel, and just doesn't understand why you feel that way? Or that he cares, but it doesn't make sense to him for you feel the way you do? Or does he simply not care about anything he himself does not value?

What are some of the things he does that do make you feel loved and cared for?
 

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I can see how detaching could lead to a new set of problems. It’s absolutely not what I wanted when I envisioned how my marriage would be. I long for a close, understanding, companionship but I can’t seem to achieve it. When I explain how I feel, he doesn’t seem to hear it. I don’t feel understood and he doesn’t want to try. He is a logical man, and I guess has a tendency to base things in pure black/white logic, and it’s been hard to get him to understand my point of view if it differs from his.
A logical man. Hmm. That is quite typical.

Do you want an emotional man? If so, you really probably should have married one of your girlfriends. I am obviously saying that in jest...but I hope this highlights for you that he isn't one of your girlfriends, and never will be. You expecting him to be may be expecting too much.

And are you sure that you don't require him to agree with you?

In the last two years I’ve given birth to our second child, we have moved, my husband has started a business. He’s a good dad, and he does things like tend to the kids and helps around with household chores. His family (my inlaws) are of a different cultural background that I am and we have dealt with various conflicts because they don’t accept me. I guess we have been through a lot in a short time.
I think we've finally gotten to something tangible!

You have two small children that you are managing. That is emotionally draining. My W and I have experienced exactly the same thing. Do you have a history of post partum depression?

Your husband has started a new business to support his growing family. Consequently he isn't around as much as you would hope. He is finding it hard to balance family with the business, but still tends to kids and helps around the house. Nevertheless, the current balance is not satisfactory to you.

And then there is the family!!! His family doesn't accept you, doesn't treat you well and culturally you guys don't mesh at all. Your husband is currently torn between his obligations to his parents/siblings and you.

Having gone through some counseling on this as well, my advice to your H would be to be supportive of you and stand up to his family on your behalf, even if it pisses off the rest of his family. If he is not doing that for you, and won't listen to you about it then I suggest you set up a counselor and go together to discuss this in particular. If it takes a 3rd party to hammer that home, then that is what needs to happen. Him choosing his family over you is not going to turn out well for him. In front of his family, he needs to be your advocate and your protector. And I don't care what culture he comes from!
 

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I'm wondering how long you dated before you were married? Were the things you complain about now better while dating or just problematic for the last two years.

Are you wishing for more romance? More connection? Being more valued? Is his family openly hostile or are their cultural beliefs just different?

Sounds a bit like y'all may look at the roles in marriage differently.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the welcome! Hopefully I can clarify a little here...

Kids ages: Youngest is 2, oldest is 4.

When we first got married we were very often physically intimate; I know this is typically expected to decrease as time passes, but now we are intimate maybe once or twice every couple months. He doesn’t have any physical problems that would cause sexual dysfunction. I’m not aware of another woman being involved, I haven’t noticed any overt signs of cheating (coming home late, lying, concealing his phone, any of that). The intimacy is satisfying when we do have it! But the frequency leaves much to be desired for me. He says he’s too tired, or he is afraid the kids may interrupt us. I don’t initiate much anymore because I felt really rejected, and I certainly don’t want to make him feel forced to have sex he doesn’t want to have. It hurt my self esteem, even though I’m in good shape and comfortable with how I look, that he wasn’t interested in sex with me. I guess the birth of our second child was when the frequency started to taper down.

Communication barriers... let’s see if I can be more specific here. If I express an opinion about what we should do - such as parenting choices, his career choices, sexual intimacy, relationships with extended family - he gets immediately defensive if I raise my thoughts which differ from his preferences. For example if I talk to him and say I’d like more intimacy, he blames me for bringing it up and making it seem like a chore, then he asks why I’m making him out to be the bad guy. I’ve noticed a pattern of this: I’ll have my opinions, present them, and he will defend himself immediately and blame me for doing something bad to him by bringing it up at all. I wish he didn’t blame me and I don’t like that he feels so defensive, and makes himself a victim at times.

I want him to understand my thoughts, not necessarily agree. I want him to respect hat my feelings are valid regardless of how they compare to his, and I want him to know that I value his feelings, too.

I absolutely feel resentful. I’m so ashamed of that, but i do. I feel jealous of other people he interacts with and respects, and I wish he respected me as he respects his friends. That is SO, so very difficult to admit but it’s the truth. I wish I was more important to him, and that he wanted to hear my feelings like he does other people’s. I’d say he’s pretty empathetic, perhaps an 8/10 to others, to me possibly a 5. I’m just not as respectable to him, is how I see it.

I don’t know if he is controlling. I’ve talked to some close friends about specifics and they say he is, but it’s hard for me to see. I am open to that fact but I just can’t see it for what it is if that’s truly the case.

Thanks for the chance to clear a bit up for everyone. Hope this helps! I appreciate any feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Tron, no history of PPD. However, I did have a traumatic birth with the second child (few moments were pretty intense and we were worried about the baby’s wellbeing). I don’t have any mental health history or any diagnosed condition.

I chuckled at the thought of marrying my best girlfriend! Haha. I don’t want him to be emotional, but it would be great if he could understand me and how I feel a bit better. I’m certain I could do better with delivering my thoughts as well! I’ve stopped to think many times that he is perhaps defensive because I’ve given him reason to be. Maybe he’s on eggshells and doesn’t know how to react, and that stress makes our sex life diminish.

I’m hoping to work on how I view things, understand why these issues I’ve described have made me upset, and change how I let it affect me. I wonder if I’m just too emotional and unrealistic, so perhaps a bit of detachment wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Maybe it’s a “me” problem, maybe not, and I’m happy to receive your advice.
 

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Hi, sunsetmist. We dated around 9 months, moved in together, then we dated while living together about 2 years and got engaged. Our engagement was nearly a year. So, we were together a little over 3.5 years before the wedding.

We did not see his parents often during the time we were only dating/engaged. It was perhaps once a quarter for a meal and that was it. After we were married and throughout my pregnancy, we saw them for holidays and a few meals totaling less than 8 times a year.

After the baby was born his family expected much more involvement and visited weekly. It was quite a change to have a newborn and a set of inlaws in our home weekly. I’d say this is when our relationship changed (I began harboring resentment, and we argued more). His mother in particular is very passive aggressive when we see her, and doesn’t acknowledge me. I usually do other things around our home in other rooms, or skip the visit altogether. He did start standing up to his family a bit and now we see them ~monthly. They still don’t care much for me, his mother has actually encouraged him to leave me because she doesn’t like how we parent (of course, in her mind, this is entirely my fault.)

I wish for more romance and a better mental connection. I want him to respect my feelings and to stop invalidating me, and I want him to listen to how I feel without becoming immediately defensive. I want to be able to compromise and I want to be sensitive to his feelings and desires, equally. I don’t want to argue every time we disagree to the point that it becomes a fight stretched over multiple days.
 

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Look, nobody likes to be criticized but immediately going on the defensive can be due to a number of different things; either

(1) your approach is overly aggressive or critical and puts him on the defensive,
(2) he is extremely insecure, or
(3) he is narcissistic

There might be more that I can't think of right now but you obviously have total control over the first one.

Would you say he is very insecure?
 

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After the baby was born his family expected much more involvement and visited weekly. It was quite a change to have a newborn and a set of inlaws in our home weekly. I’d say this is when our relationship changed (I began harboring resentment, and we argued more). His mother in particular is very passive aggressive when we see her, and doesn’t acknowledge me. I usually do other things around our home in other rooms, or skip the visit altogether. He did start standing up to his family a bit and now we see them ~monthly. They still don’t care much for me, his mother has actually encouraged him to leave me because she doesn’t like how we parent (of course, in her mind, this is entirely my fault.)
This right here set things in motion and is the root of the matter.

Your MIL...Wow!

- Immature.
- Passive aggressive - not good.
- Highly critical of your mothering - bad.
- Encourages her son to leave his wife (the mom of her grandchildren) - Yikes! Worse than bad...borderline atrocious behavior.

You guys need to nip this. Would your H and MIL be amenable to some group counseling? She needs a kick in the ass!

If not, is moving to a different state an option?
 

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The lack of intimacy is suspicious. How much is he working? Why do you think the birth of your second child would cause his interest in sex to decline? The birth of a child typically results in a decrease in sexual interest on the mother's part, not the father's.

Does your husband struggle with telling people no? Is he conflict avoidant? What kind of relationship does he have with his mother?
 

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Tron, he is not at all insecure. He is very confident, outgoing, social. I’d lean toward the first, perhaps I am in fact too critical.

I don’t believe he’s narcissistic, he does have empathy for others and the lesser empathy for me may be due to my criticism of him.

We’ve created boundaries and distance between us and my mother in law, once a month is so much better than multiple times a week. Maybe he resents me for this? Maybe he views me as the problem and wishes he didn’t have to stand up to his mother?

He tolerates her and he has told me his childhood memories of her are not fond. She is quite cold and his parents have not ever had the best marriage.
 

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Biofury, he works a lot of overtime from home since he’s started his new business. His work hours at the office are the same plus he works from home most weekends.

Our youngest breastfed for over a year and she is a light sleeper. For awhile she slept in bed with us because she would wake at night, crying. My husband says he’s worried about the kids waking (especially the youngest) during the time we’re being intimate. She still wakes randomly and cries and one of us has to go soothe her back to sleep. Therefore he just isn’t as into having sex, he says.

I feel that there are other times for intimacy though, not necessarily at night, and I’ve suggested we even get a sitter for our kids so we can have some alone time. He still doesn’t seem interested.

Sorry, this is so personal I have a difficult time discussing it publicly!
 

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Biofury, he works a lot of overtime from home since he’s started his new business. His work hours at the office are the same plus he works from home most weekends.

Our youngest breastfed for over a year and she is a light sleeper. For awhile she slept in bed with us because she would wake at night, crying. My husband says he’s worried about the kids waking (especially the youngest) during the time we’re being intimate. She still wakes randomly and cries and one of us has to go soothe her back to sleep. Therefore he just isn’t as into having sex, he says.

I feel that there are other times for intimacy though, not necessarily at night, and I’ve suggested we even get a sitter for our kids so we can have some alone time. He still doesn’t seem interested.

Sorry, this is so personal I have a difficult time discussing it publicly!
How many hours a day does he spend working?

I don't understand what he could be worried about. It's not like they're in the same room and are going to peek over the top of the bed to see what you're up to. Sounds like a poorly thought out excuse. Does he masturbate, or look at porn?

No worries :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I don’t know if he does either of those, I assume so, just simply because It isn’t uncommon and our infrequent sex. We haven’t talked about either subject.

He works around 10 hours a day on weekdays and 5-8 hours on weekends each day, plus some phone calls here and there from home.

Edit to add: the youngest did sleep in our bed for awhile. And would sometimes come into our room, at night, after we started putting her in her toddler bed.
 

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I don’t know if he does either of those, I assume so, just simply because It isn’t uncommon and our infrequent sex. We haven’t talked about either subject.

He works around 10 hours a day on weekdays and 5-8 hours on weekends each day, plus some phone calls here and there from home.

Edit to add: the youngest did sleep in our bed for awhile. And would sometimes come into our room, at night, after we started putting her in her toddler bed.
Both are highly detrimental to your sex life as a couple, as well as his emotional bond to you. His lack of sexual interest, and hence the lame-behind excuses about being too tired, or being afraid the kids to jump out of the closet, are most likely a product of him masturbating to porn all the time. It needs to stop. But in order to make any changes, your husband needs to be involved in the process.

Have you shared with him, what you've shared with us? Specifically, that you feel he invalidates and ignores your thoughts and feelings when you bring them up? That he stonewalls you with defensiveness, and you don't feel heard? Hopefully, you making such a statement would deter him from doing just that in response, and thus allow a productive conversation to follow.

For your part, try to always make "I" statements, rather than "you" statements, when voicing a complaint. For example, you should say "It makes me feel unheard and alone when you react defensively to my feelings or thoughts. I would feel loved if you would be willing to talk with me about them". Rather than "You always get so defensive, why can't you just listen to me?".
 

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Biofury, he works a lot of overtime from home since he’s started his new business. His work hours at the office are the same plus he works from home most weekends.

Our youngest breastfed for over a year and she is a light sleeper. For awhile she slept in bed with us because she would wake at night, crying. My husband says he’s worried about the kids waking (especially the youngest) during the time we’re being intimate. She still wakes randomly and cries and one of us has to go soothe her back to sleep. Therefore he just isn’t as into having sex, he says.

I feel that there are other times for intimacy though, not necessarily at night, and I’ve suggested we even get a sitter for our kids so we can have some alone time. He still doesn’t seem interested.

Sorry, this is so personal I have a difficult time discussing it publicly!
Tough things to discuss, for sue, but I think you're doing great!

Kids in the bed with you isn't good for intimacy, but the I think you know that too.

Might ask your H if porn and masturbation could be the problem too. Work on figuring out how to open the discussion in a relaxed and open way. You don't want to put him on his heels, make him defensive or ashamed. You need him to. Be honest with you.
 
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