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Discussion Starter #1
I'm f29 married to m35. We've been married for almost 8 years and have 3 kids, a cat, and a home together. We married young. When I 21. We dated for less than a year and had a 5 month long distance engagement. We were young and naive and did not know each other.

We had problems right out of the gate but thought it was just normal issues that would smooth out in time. We started therapy 3 years ago and sometimes I feel like we're in worse shape.

We had therapy today and I was told by our therapist that in my particular marriage, I will always have to specifically ask for what I need and I need to give up on him being able to intuitively show love to me. Things like making me a cup of coffee in the morning, a back rub after a hard day, flowers just because, a hug when I'm crying.

I just don't know how to be married to someone who needs to be told everything to do. I feel like a part of me is dying.
 

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So are you saying that you shouldn't have to specifically ask for you you need? Where does this expectation come from that loved ones have telepathic ability to know your needs? Do you believe that everything should just turn out magically without having to actually communicate? Sorry, but it just doesn't work that way because God did not make us that way. God knows us better than anyone in the universe, better than we know ourselves. He knows our wants and our needs, and yet He repeatedly tells us to ask for what we need. It's one of the ways that we connect with Him. So maybe your husband isn't meeting your needs because you two are not connected.
 

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So are you saying that you shouldn't have to specifically ask for you you need? Where does this expectation come from that loved ones have telepathic ability to know your needs? Do you believe that everything should just turn out magically without having to actually communicate? Sorry, but it just doesn't work that way because God did not make us that way. God knows us better than anyone in the universe, better than we know ourselves. He knows our wants and our needs, and yet He repeatedly tells us to ask for what we need. It's one of the ways that we connect with Him. So maybe your husband isn't meeting your needs because you two are not connected.
I don't think that 100% of the time he should know my needs. I do not have a problem communicating them. But I guess I do have an expectation that after 8 years of marriage, if I tell my husband it was a long hard day, once in a while, he could offer something to help with that. Like a glass of wine or offer to clean up the kitchen after dinner. Is that unreasonable?
 

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If it takes three years of therapy for you to understand that you’re married to a man who lacks empathy then I would suggest a better therapist.
You are correct. We had the same therapist until about two months ago. Right before this covid stuff happened. I asked him if we could try other therapists before that and he said no, that he felt the one we were seeing was doing a great job. I didn't agree because we hadn't made progress in nearly 3 years. So I told I'm I was done with therapy unless we could try another one. He agreed and this new one seems to be doing a better job but at the same time is making me feel more hopeless because I don't think dh has the capacity to connect anywhere close to what I had hoped for.
 

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Also. I've known he lacked empathy within the first year of marriage. I just always thought it could be learned. And I think I'm starting to realize that maybe it can't be. And that leaves me feeling rather depressed.
 

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But I guess I do have an expectation that after 8 years of marriage, if I tell my husband it was a long hard day, once in a while, he could offer something to help with that. Like a glass of wine or offer to clean up the kitchen after dinner. Is that unreasonable?
People do not just magically know everything about each other after 8 years of marriage. I have been married for 46 years and still I learn new things about my spouse. Have you told him that you have this need? If not, then yes, that is unreasonable. You have to actually talk to him and tell him what you need. Sounds like you have this fantasy in your head about how thinks should be and you're disappointed because things are not actually that way. You cannot control him. You can only control yourself. You have this expectation, so what are YOU going to do about it?
 

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Or maybe his thinking was you was happy with him, until the beginning of your meeting with the first counselor. Maybe you should write down things to do for him to do for you on post-it's and he can pull one out every couple of days, as it was recommended here by another poster sometime ago.
 

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I wrote up a "cheat sheet" for him. "when w says she's angry, here are things that help. When she says she's overwhelmed, here are things that help. Etc" And I wrote out so many ideas. We talked it over together and he said the cheat sheet would help so much and it was awesome.... For about a week. He lost the cheat sheet. I asked if he wanted me to print a new one. He said yes. I printed one and he hung it on his closet. Again it was great for about a week. And then back to nothing. And we've had this conversation so many times. When I ask him why the change isn't sustained, he gets mad at me and says his brain just doesn't work that way. He wasn't raised that way. But he always says he's willing to try even though I have yet to see sustained effort.

I'm not expecting him to read my mind. I've expressed my needs a thousand times. And yesterday my therapist said that "because of how his brain works," it would be best for me to just give up on that.

But a marriage where my partner can't meet my needs sounds more like a roommate situation.
 

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I wrote up a "cheat sheet" for him. "when w says she's angry, here are things that help. When she says she's overwhelmed, here are things that help. Etc" And I wrote out so many ideas. We talked it over together and he said the cheat sheet would help so much and it was awesome.... For about a week. He lost the cheat sheet. I asked if he wanted me to print a new one. He said yes. I printed one and he hung it on his closet. Again it was great for about a week. And then back to nothing.
I've said this for years so I'm not surprised to read the above. The truth is, people don't change. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but for most people, they don't change who they are at their core. And who he is, is someone who doesn't care enough to do any giving in your marriage. I'm guessing that he's just fine with YOU doing all the giving while HE does all the taking.

That seems to be the norm for a lot of marriages - the woman is running herself ragged trying to be all things to all people and catering to all her husband's creature comforts while the husband contributes little-to-nothing in return.

I just LOVE how some quack therapist actually gave this guy an excuse for being a selfish, thoughtless, lazy ass-hole. It's because his poor little brain "doesn't work that way" and now, he's got some quack who's only too happy to reinforce his bad behavior with that nonsense excuse. Again, I'm not surprised. Therapists aren't the magic cure everyone thinks they are. Does this 'therapist' actually want you to believe that the simple act of being COURTEOUS and pouring you a cup of coffee in the morning is beyond your husband's capabilities? Seriously??????

I'd be looking for a new quack therapist. Maybe the new quack will be less inclined to make nonsense excuses for **** behavior.
 

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Can a person learn to do little nice things for their partner? Yes. Can they learn to want to do these things? No - unless it costs them. Caring and giving come naturally to some people. Others need an incentive to get out of their self-centered mindset.
 

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On the one hand, it sounds like he doesn't value showing you affection. Which is bad.

On the other hand, it sounds like you expect him to read your mind, which is also bad.

One is on him to fix, but you have something to fix of your own - magical thinking. It was explained to one of my wife's friends by their marriage counselor like this: 'sure, it's frustrating because you think he should know you by now. On the other hand, you are married to someone that's literally willing to give you everything you want if you just write it down for him. Your job is to write it down and stop expecting him to read your mind. His job is to actually do those things.'
 

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Discussion Starter #13
On the one hand, it sounds like he doesn't value showing you affection. Which is bad.

On the other hand, it sounds like you expect him to read your mind, which is also bad.

One is on him to fix, but you have something to fix of your own - magical thinking. It was explained to one of my wife's friends by their marriage counselor like this: 'sure, it's frustrating because you think he should know you by now. On the other hand, you are married to someone that's literally willing to give you everything you want if you just write it down for him. Your job is to write it down and stop expecting him to read your mind. His job is to actually do those things.'
Did you read the part above where I wrote out a cheat sheet? Trust me. It's not because I want him to read my mind.
 

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Can a person learn to do little nice things for their partner? Yes. Can they learn to want to do these things? No - unless it costs them. Caring and giving come naturally to some people. Others need an incentive to get out of their self-centered mindset.
And this is the thing I'm struggling with. It truly seems like I just need to give up. I have 3 little kids. If it wasn't for them, it would be so easy to walk out. But I don't want to hurt them. And husband doesn't hurt any of us. He's not abusive at all. He's the kindest soul and willing to do anything asked of him. So I need to decide if I can function in a one sided marriage I guess. I don't know. I'm just trying to process.
 

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Did you read the part above where I wrote out a cheat sheet? Trust me. It's not because I want him to read my mind.
Interesting. You also wrote: "I just don't know how to be married to someone who needs to be told everything to do."

Which sounds more than a little like you want him to 'just know' and 'just do' and 'just do what he's told.'

Not trying to attack you here, but you're the one that's here, not him. The only thing in your control is you. So I'm asking you if you're sure about your own thoughts and behaviour here.
 

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Interesting. You also wrote: "I just don't know how to be married to someone who needs to be told everything to do."

Which sounds more than a little like you want him to 'just know' and 'just do' and 'just do what he's told.'

Not trying to attack you here, but you're the one that's here, not him. The only thing in your control is you. So I'm asking you if you're sure about your own thoughts and behaviour here.

I think that was a miscommunication. Instead of saying I'm sad I have to tell him what to do, I think it would be more accurate if I said, "I'm growing weary of stating my needs, having him agree he can meet them and then seeing them met for about a week or two but then watching him settle back into routine and comfort. Then I bring it up again and we repeat. For 8 years."

I think it would be one thing if he didn't assure me every time that what I'm asking for is reasonable. So every time I get my hopes up. Then we have the same conversations again. "I don't feel like this need is met. Are you willing/able to meet it or do I need to adjust?" "I'm sorry! My brain just doesn't work like that but I know I can do it. Just watch! I'll do it!" And he does for two weeks and then falls back into routine. And I don't know how to keep getting my hopes up and then getting disappointed.

Edit to add: an example of this would be, I've told him that when I say I'm sad about something, a hug helps me. So I say I'm sad that I haven't seen my family in 3 months because of coronavirus. Then I start breaking down. So I've said I'm sad and I'm crying. Two cues. He won't hug me unless it's in the two weeks since I've reminded him I need hugs when I'm sad. OR unless I tell him, "I'm sad right now. Remember that hugs help me? Please pull me in for a hug" and then he will. But I'm wondering if it's unreasonable for me to get upset that I have to explicitly state that every time.
 

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I think that was a miscommunication. Instead of saying I'm sad I have to tell him what to do, I think it would be more accurate if I said, "I'm growing weary of stating my needs, having him agree he can meet them and then seeing them met for about a week or two but then watching him settle back into routine and comfort. Then I bring it up again and we repeat. For 8 years."

I think it would be one thing if he didn't assure me every time that what I'm asking for is reasonable. So every time I get my hopes up. Then we have the same conversations again. "I don't feel like this need is met. Are you willing/able to meet it or do I need to adjust?" "I'm sorry! My brain just doesn't work like that but I know I can do it. Just watch! I'll do it!" And he does for two weeks and then falls back into routine. And I don't know how to keep getting my hopes up and then getting disappointed.
The two week thing is an extremely common pattern. You also find it with things like diet, exercise, meditation practice, quitting smoking, etc.

It's about how long you can 'force' yourself to do something that you just really haven't decided you want to do it.

What this means to me is that he just doesn't want to do those things. So now you have more information to make a decision: stay or go?

Only if you're 100% positive you have abolished magical thinking and unvoiced expectations from your side of the relationship, and if you're 100% positive what you are asking for is reasonable.
 

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The two week thing is an extremely common pattern. You also find it with things like diet, exercise, meditation practice, quitting smoking, etc.

It's about how long you can 'force' yourself to do something that you just really haven't decided you want to do it.

What this means to me is that he just doesn't want to do those things. So now you have more information to make a decision: stay or go?

Only if you're 100% positive you have abolished magical thinking and unvoiced expectations from your side of the relationship, and if you're 100% positive what you are asking for is reasonable.
Yes. That's the conclusion I came to and my therapist affirmed. Because of who he is (whether it's his brain or selfishness... Whatever...), He's not in a place to meet me in that area.

And I guess I can keep talking to my therapist about what that would look like for me and how to cope. Just kind of wondering if anyone else is in a similar position and could give perspective in the meantime.
 

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Yes. That's the conclusion I came to and my therapist affirmed. Because of who he is (whether it's his brain or selfishness... Whatever...), He's not in a place to meet me in that area.

And I guess I can keep talking to my therapist about what that would look like for me and how to cope. Just kind of wondering if anyone else is in a similar position and could give perspective in the meantime.
My perspective is to be sure that you've done what you can, and once you've done that, don't waste a lot of time making a decision.

One of my therapists once said that any decision in your life can be made in a week or less once you have all the facts you need to make it, and I think it's true. Any longer than that, and you're really just procrastinating.

So I guess my question to you is: can you live with him as-is, or not? Do you even want to?
 

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When I ask him why the change isn't sustained, he gets mad at me and says his brain just doesn't work that way. He wasn't raised that way.
So, how does his brain work and how was he raised?

Do you love this guy? This is important because training this guy might be more trouble than it's worth.

You said you two didn't really know each other when you married. It looks like he not only still doesn't know you; but, he doesn't care to know you.

If there were only one chocolate chip cookie left on the plate, would he remember that it is your favorite cookie and offer it to you or would he scarf it down without a second thought?
 
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