Talk About Marriage banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
H and I are at a real low in the marriage, and have been at (what' hopefully) bottom for a year now. The basic issue is that I feel emotionally neglected, even abandoned, in the relationship. I think he's totally happy with the relationship.

It's hard to make this all short enough to fit in a post, but here's an example, the biggest I can think of: last summer, I was going through a lot with our kids. We have 2, and the youngest is now 4. She's difficult. Last summer she was throwing 10-20 tantrums a day and waking up 5-10 times per night (often to have another tantrum). Because I nursed and mostly stayed at home, I always had night duty. However, the sleep deprivation was killing me. I begged my husband, sobbing, to just take the girls out of the house ONE morning so I could sleep in (I tried sleeping in with the girls in the house, but they'd always wake me up. H used to wake me up too, saying I shouldn't "sleep in too late," until I lost it, cursed at him, and locked the bedroom door one morning).

It's so hard to keep this short. The bottom line is, he said he'd help me out but he never did. In retrospect, I should have demanded that he take the girls out every saturday morning to let me sleep, but I was so fixated on just one morning of sleep that it didn't occur to me.

So basically, I feel like I was drowning, and he just sat there and watched me. I got sick from what I really believe was the emotional and physical exhaustion, and even now I'm not fully recovered.

I just don't know what to do now. I feel betrayed. I feel like I don't have a partner I can lean on. It wasn't just one day that he let me down, it was day after day of not helping. I can't tell you how many times I cried and told him I was afraid I was going to have a nervous breakdown if I didn't get some sleep. Every time he'd say, ok, no problem. Then he'd do nothing.

I don't want to get a divorce. I would, no hesitation, if we didn't have kids, but I don't want to put them through that. Other than this total inability to take care of me, he's not a bad person. Not abusive, hard worker, no addictions. But when I think about doing the work myself to repair the damage that, in my opinion HE has done, I just don't have the motivation. I resent that I have to fix things when I've worked so hard all along to keep them going. I bought us and read 7 principles for making marriage work and it really resonated with me. I asked him to read it too, so we could do the exercises, and he got a few pages into it and then quit.

When I bring it up, he says he definitely wants to work on our issues. But that doesn't translate into any action. I guess that sums up the issues pretty well--I don't get any initiative from him. Way back when, I thought it was a communication thing... that if I could just figure out HOW to get through to him, he'd listen. I tried writing to him, but it didn't work.

I don't know. How do I turn things around?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
163 Posts
Hi northernlights,

you have a tough situation there.
From my point of view, you should find a way to delegate some tasks to him. He seems to be willing to help but has no clue how.
Leave him with the kids and you go for a walk or a coffee for one hour for instance. Start with little things and see how it goes. He probably won't like it at first, so you don't give up!

Don't beg or ask. Just do it. Say to him that you're going out for a walk and that he's taking care of the kids.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
561 Posts
Don't beg or ask. Just do it. Say to him that you're going out for a walk and that he's taking care of the kids.
:iagree:

You know his schedule so be matter of fact and say, "I am going to do <<<this>>> on such a such day. Please watch the kids while I am gone". The end. If he whines and sighs about it then too bad for him. He gets a vacation from work, right? So how come you can't have one either? We are all entitled to mental health days and you are in serious need of one. If he complains then tell him you are going to get a babysitter.

Have you thought about putting your kids in a daycare one or two days a week? If finances are tight there are a lot of high school or college aged kids who wouldn't mind making a little extra cash in the evenings or weekends. And that cost will be half of daycare. Even if you have to cut out a few extra coupons to supplement the cost it will be well worth it. Make an arguement as to how the babysitting/daycare cost can be supplemented (where expenses can be cut) and present it to your husband. He can't argue about money if you already have a plan in place.

You need YOU time and he should support that. Do not let him get away with agreeing and not following through.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The 4 year old has just started pre-K, so that's been helpful. Well, somewhat. It doesn't help with the sleep issue, but the kids have started sleeping through the night. I developed insomnia as soon as that happened (stress I think, or maybe my body just forgot how to sleep), and I was very reluctant to try sleeping medication at first, thinking it would go away on its own, but I have an appointment with the doctor and will get some sleeping pills. So I really feel like this one is close to being taken care of (no thanks to H though).

I do have to just make him take care of the kids more, I know that. It's hard for me, I'm the kind of person that feels so much guilt when I put other people out for me and always puts everyone before myself. That's another thing I've talked with H about and asked him to please help me work on that by not putting up more obstacles for me. But, he continues to. So I suppose the lesson for me here is that I can't rely on him to help me help myself. It all has to come from me. He usually guilts me if I try to do something for myself (I put the younger one in dance lessons and signed up for a session with a personal trainer to get started lifting weights because I'm such a weakling. He freaked out about the $50!! We have money!!! And he doesn't hesitate to spend money on himself. I got so, so angry that time too. I told him he's spent nearly $2000 on basketball fees for his league in the past few years, and he's begrudging me $50? Then he turned it into a fight over how much he actually spent on basketball, which, yes, was less than $2,000. It was something in the $1,500 ballpark. He always does that--turn a fight about something that's really a big deal to me into a squabble over the accuracy of one tiny thing I said.) Oops, digression.

Anyway, I agree that I have to take this upon myself. But that leaves me feeling even more like I don't have a partner in H. The issue at the bottom of everything is that I feel like we don't have a partnership. We don't make a team. Maybe I just have to forget about what I thought a marriage was and accept ours for what it is.

Thanks for your thoughts. It's difficult because we have moved to his home country and I have no friends here. It's just a temporary move and it was my idea, so that's not a huge deal. It's just hard not having anyone to talk to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
855 Posts
My guess is he doesn't really understand what's going on with you. You're obviously stressed out and suffering from lack of sleep. You probably aren't being as clear as you think you are.

You have to be specific and stick to your guns. Tell him, "I need sleep badly. I'm sleeping until 11am tomorrow. Do NOT wake me up. Do NOT let the kids wake me up."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture and unless you are experiencing it yourself, it can be quite hard to appreciate just how debilitating it is. It wasn't until I had a decent night's sleep that I realised the extreme effect it was having on me.

Could you do a deal with him? "If I could sleep in until (insert time) tomorrow morning, then you could (insert hobby) tomorrow afternoon." Sometimes it's easier for a person to give if they feel like they're getting something in return. Get him to take the kids out somewhere so that you can relax knowing that you definitely won't be disturbed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
856 Posts
" I do have to make him take care of the kids more". I think you have the answer there, insist on more fairness in the relationship now, you are not "putting him out". He's a grown man and a father and needs to act like one. A lot of men need very specific instructions on when and how to help out. Also, don't let him get away with spending money on himself and then begrudging you a few expenditures! Call him on it, it's very unfair and he needs to get a more mature attitude about this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture and unless you are experiencing it yourself, it can be quite hard to appreciate just how debilitating it is. It wasn't until I had a decent night's sleep that I realised the extreme effect it was having on me.
I told this to him!
I tried so hard to be specific. I told him, "take the girls out to breakfast tomorrow so I can sleep," and he'd come up with an excuse about how he absolutely couldn't do it tomorrow. Usually he'd say he had a work deadline, sometimes he'd say he tried but the littlest one wouldn't go along with it. I'd tell him she doesn't have a choice, she'll get over it (like, when she sees the pancakes!), but no.

At a point, there's nothing else I can do to make him do something. Or, if it gets to a real extreme (like me locking the bedroom door), I still feel like it shouldn't be so hard to get this kind of help from him.

In the thick of things this summer, we had company. We had moved in 2009 and a bunch of old friends plus family were coming to visit. Finally our last guests were staying 2 weeks, and it was getting to be too much. Then, a hurricane was coming! The last time we had a hurricane we lost power for a week (we have a well, that means no running water too). So I had a talk with H and said I was going to see if I could convince our guests to see if the airline would change their flight to get them out before the hurricane, because of the potential for hassle. He said ok, that's a good idea. When I brought it up to friends the wife said, "oh, no, I think it'll be fine," and H said, "yeah, I think you're really overreacting."

That's communication here. I am very clear. I am very open to listening to his side. We'll have what I think is a productive discussion, and he'll continue to go on his way and do whatever he pleases.

It's true that if I take an action like walking out the door, he will watch the kids or whatever. But when they're no positive action I can take (like, I can't get them all packed into the car before breakfast, because then I can't sleep), forget it.

The spending money thing is something I thought was relatively minor, but I'm beginning to think is a symptom of the problem too. He's never bought me anything that cost more than $100, even though we have money and he doesn't hesitate to spend money on new electronics for himself.

I guess I feel like I'm at the place where I have to MAKE him help me out, and resenting that it takes so much work. So now it's grown to beyond not getting enough help, I feel like I don't have the marriage I thought I did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,361 Posts
It sounds to me like the solution to your problems lies outside of your home. You say your husband is a good provider who says he's willing to work on things (though he isn't doing it in the way you're wanting him to.) You also said you have the money to spend $50 occasionally, but that there's some power struggle going on where he feels it's reasonable to have a double standard that lets him question what you spend but not what he spends.

My suggestion: Remember that men often see themselves as providers, not nurturers, so your expectation of him might be something he isn't naturally capable of giving you. However, he *can* provide for you, and claims he wants to see improvement, so...

Let him know that you've had unfair expectations of him by wanting him to do things that aren't natural for him, and not appreciating enough about the way he provides for his family. Then go on to say that since you have certain needs he can't fulfill, you'll accept an allowance of $___ each month to spend so you can meet those needs without trying to force him to. You need a win-win solution.

If he balks, which he probably will, keep the focus on things that matter to him: You will use the money in ways that help you be the kind of terrific wife he deserves. You will be less stressed, so you can show your appreciation and gratitude that he deserves, which you haven't been able to do because you've been feeling stretched thin and resenting him for not fulfilling your needs, which is exactly what you're correcting now. Finally, state clearly that it's not an option, but a requirement you have. As the primary provider for his family, he has a duty to make sure you're provided for.

I know that it's not natural for women to use words like I am using here, but I encourage you to use these words. Duty, provider, appreciation, gratitude, solution, win-win. These are concepts men understand.

Your ONLY expectation of him is the allowance you're asking for. It's something that is easily measured - he'll know he's done the right thing and that you won't complain about the nurturing kind of things you've been expecting of him. It's a win for him if he gives it to you, and he'll "score" appreciation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
856 Posts
You are right, it's so frustrating when you have the 'talk' and think that you have something sorted out, only to find that things have not changed. It's one of the hardest parts of marriage. He almost sounds like a throwback to a previous generation, where women did all the childcare and men only had to provide. I think that many husbands get very complacent, they think that they can continue on with the same behavior, right until we ask for a separation, and only THEN do they wake up and say... what happened? It really bugs me how some have to hit rock bottom in their marriages to see that they are causing their wives deep hurt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
He's not American, I think that's part of our problem. But when we got married, I was making more than he was, and I didn't see any indications that he would be like this. He started earning more money around the time I had our first.

He has always been extremely passive and kind of selfish, but I guess it didn't seem like a big deal earlier because there was nothing I really needed from him. My first big clue was when I was in labor with our first. She was in intermittent distress but he got hungry (didn't pack himself any snacks, I'd been admitted the night before for an induction and he'd spent the night at home), so he went to get some lunch. I was fine with that, except that he decided that he didn't like the sandwiches in the small cafe that was open (it was a sunday) so he actually left the hospital to get some pizza!! He was gone for over an hour, and didn't see the problem with this! I ended up with a crash c-section about an hour after he got back, but it could totally have happened while he was gone.

I guess the other thing that I haven't said because it sounds bad to say, but there's a chance that he is acting like this because he's hopelessly clueless. Does that happen? He doesn't tell my WHY he does what he does, so I'm always left guessing, and I can't eliminate this possibility. Like, the time with the hurricane, I asked him later why he turned on me like that after we had a conversation and agreed we were on the same page, and his response was, "I don't know." That's all I ever get. That or he'll turn the conversation to a detail like when we fought over how much he spent on basketball. Or tactic number three is that he'll say something totally offensive, then deny he just said it, and then I'll fall for that and spend 20 minutes trying to get him to admit that he said something and then denied it. By then I'm just ready to kick him out and lock the door, but I usually just go to bed.

Like, for example, this is how the I need sleep conversation used to go:

me: I am dying. I need to sleep more. Can you please take the girls out to breakfast in the morning?
him: sure. You get as much sleep as me, but whatever, I'll take them out.
me: How can you say I get as much sleep as you? You know I was up 15 times last night because kid A was sick.
Him: I didn't say I get as much sleep as you.
me: what? yes, you just did

and then you can imagine the next 20 minutes. Finally he'll say, well that's not what I meant to say. And I'll say then just say that in the first place!!!

gah, sorry, another digression. Typing this out helps a lot though. I need to stop falling for his distraction tactics. If he had a problem with reality, and thinks he can pretend he didn't say something that he said, then I obviously can't fix that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
856 Posts
Clueless....meaning he lacks empathy for others. I suppose you can do what I do. I ask myself: Did he do this to HURT me? Or is he just unable to see the effect of his actions. Keep spelling out how painful you find his behavior, otherwise the built up resentment will cause an even bigger divide between you. Don't stop communicating to him how he needs to consider your feelings and needs more. He really needs to learn this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,361 Posts
Like, for example, this is how the I need sleep conversation used to go:

me: I am dying. I need to sleep more. Can you please take the girls out to breakfast in the morning?
him: sure. You get as much sleep as me, but whatever, I'll take them out. The best response here is "Thank you." Your defensive contributes to this communication problem. Just ignore these little digs. They're passive-aggressive.
me: How can you say I get as much sleep as you? You know I was up 15 times last night because kid A was sick.
Him: I didn't say I get as much sleep as you. Also PA.
me: what? yes, you just did
You may find the resources on The Passive-Aggressive Spouse | Marriage Missions International helpful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Oh wow KathyBates, thank you. That link fits my husband to a T. One thing I didn't talk about was how I hesitate to push the kids on him because of his inability to keep them safe. I know that's a big accusation, but one time he left our non-swimming 3 year old in a wade-in pool (deepest end was 6 feet), no life jacket, and went around the corner to shoot hoops. Out of sight, out of earshot. I was nearby, but it was one of those times he was supposed to have the kids and I was supposed to be resting. I guess a guardian angel was looking out for us, because I went over to check on them. DD was up to her waist and heading in deeper.

I wasn't going to get into that here, because it's now out of the question that he take them somewhere like a pool by himself, but I still thought a restaurant would be safe enough.

Anyway, the description of passive-aggression kind of explains that behaviour to.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
411 Posts
My suggestion: Remember that men often see themselves as providers, not nurturers, so your expectation of him might be something he isn't naturally capable of giving you. However, he *can* provide for you, and claims he wants to see improvement, so...
Real men take care of their kids. As Chris rock famously stated in his black people vs n-word bit, it takes a special kind of ******* to expect praise for things you're supposed to do.
"I ain't never been to jail"
"I take care of my kids"


Let him know that you've had unfair expectations of him by wanting him to do things that aren't natural for him, and not appreciating enough about the way he provides for his family.
If being a father isn't natural to him, that means it's time to move on and find a man (or woman) who enthusiastically takes on that job.


If he balks, which he probably will, keep the focus on things that matter to him: You will use the money in ways that help you be the kind of terrific wife he deserves.
No. Saying that implies that she's less important than him. He should not be the focus of this discussion. Just be honest: I'm doing this because I want to do this.

My first big clue was when I was in labor with our first. She was in intermittent distress but he got hungry (didn't pack himself any snacks, I'd been admitted the night before for an induction and he'd spent the night at home), so he went to get some lunch. I was fine with that, except that he decided that he didn't like the sandwiches in the small cafe that was open (it was a sunday) so he actually left the hospital to get some pizza!! He was gone for over an hour, and didn't see the problem with this! I ended up with a crash c-section about an hour after he got back, but it could totally have happened while he was gone.
Why is this so bad? My brain and body completely shut down when my blood sugar is low. I can't even drive a car properly or hold a conversation.


me: I am dying. I need to sleep more. Can you please take the girls out to breakfast in the morning?
him: sure. You get as much sleep as me, but whatever, I'll take them out.
me: How can you say I get as much sleep as you? You know I was up 15 times last night because kid A was sick.
Him: I didn't say I get as much sleep as you.
me: what? yes, you just did
Serious question: is he on any kind of medication or illegal drugs? I ask because reading this paragraph made me think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
“Jesus! Did I SAY that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me? I glanced over at my attorney, but he seemed oblivious...”
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Why is this so bad? My brain and body completely shut down when my blood sugar is low. I can't even drive a car properly or hold a conversation.

Serious question: is he on any kind of medication or illegal drugs? I ask because reading this paragraph made me think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
“Jesus! Did I SAY that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me? I glanced over at my attorney, but he seemed oblivious...”
The hospital thing was just bad because there were sandwiches downstairs in a cafe that he looked at and decided didn't fit his craving, so he left the hospital in search of some pizza. I was in active labor (8 or 9 cm, things were getting close), with a baby in intermittent distress and a c-section looking more and more likely. He did stay until I got the epidural, which was good. I just couldn't believe he'd leave the hospital! And be gone for an hour!

Your other question, no, no drugs or medication, but I have wondered about his neurological health before. His father has an unidentified neurological disorder, but since they don't know what it is, there's no test. Now that we're in his home country, we're all going to meet with my FILs neurologist and discuss whether this could have a genetic component and whether genetic testing has been done. I have asked my husband if he thinks some of this could be caused by early stage disease. It's not an easy conversation to have--in fact, it is pretty terrifying.

I'm really glad you picked up on that though. H can deny, deny, deny, and I start to feel like I'm nagging and crazy when I have to insist over and over again that we do things like meet with the neurologist. It makes me question whether I'm overreacting, or if it really is strange of him. I will tell the neurologist about some of the things H does, the damage to FIL's brain is clearly visible on MRI. Maybe he'll want to check H for early signs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77 Posts
Maybe ADD..? Read up on anything you can think of might be causing him be this way..

Also, as for 7 principles book. We used it in a group therapy class for 5 weeks and the counselor made us do some exercise in class and some as homework. I think most men won't bother doing those exercise unless they are sort of "forced"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
606 Posts
Hi, wow what a sad situation. In reading all the above posts from you and others, the one that summed it up for me was when you said that if you didn't have kids, you'd be gone.

You have a very high tolerance for BS. He left a kid alone in a pool and went around the corner to shoot hoops? Has he lost his mind? How can he fulfill reasonable requests and responsibilities from you when he can't be responsible for something so simple, so basic, so obvious that you can NEVER EVER EVER leave a kid alone in a pool. He sounds beyond reason if can't distinguish right from wrong or just plain simple responsibility.

You are in this on your own and you're not getting help despite literal cries for help. If a stranger heard you crying, they'd stop to help. It does sound like there is something chemically or neurologically wrong here.

If he can acknowledge that there is something broken here that needs to be fixed and work with you to fix it and make even the slightest attempt to work as a team to fix it, then that might be hopeful, but if he outright refuses to work with you, or seek help, then hanging in there for the kids sake is doing no favor to them to see their mom trampled on. ?t would kill you to see them treated that way.

Try again to communicate then you have to decide whether change is in the air or it just aint happening.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I really, really appreciate all of these responses. I'm sorry if it looks like there were some I didn't respond to, usually that was because the poster suggested things I've already tried, and I was was embarrassed to admit that it didn't work. It all sounds so awful when I type it out.

One update is that I showed H the info on passive-aggressive personality, and he agreed that it sounded like him. I asked if we could do marriage counseling and he could maybe do individual therapy too, if the counselor suggested it. He said OK. As we're in his native country and I speak the language terribly, he made the appointment. Well, he went by himself and according to him, he and the counselor talked about our marriage. I told him I want to come next time, and he cancelled the appointment. So, that was that.

We meet with my father in law's neurologist tomorrow. H admitted that he didn't mention my concerns about him to the receptionist (he said it was none of her business. WTF! I told him she works for a neurologist, she's not going to judge him. This is her job! I have no idea how the health care system works here, it's a socialist country). So, the neurologist is just expecting us to ask questions about his dad's health. I'm just going to have to butt in with my concerns and find out if H needs a referral from a GP like he would in the US, or if the neurologist will see him directly. Even if he will, I'm sure we'll need another appointment dedicated to H. Well, I was expecting this to be truthful. At least I know I can tell the neurologist what I need to tomorrow, and that will get the ball rolling.

From there, I don't know. Obviously if it's neurological, it puts everything in a different light. If it's not, I have no idea what that means for us. Neither option feels very good right now. Is trying to get myself back into denial helpful?

The good news in all of this is, I've been very prayerful and introspective, and I've figured out a lot about myself and how I got into this situation in the first place. There were signs from the very beginning that these problems were here, but they were fewer and further between. Things have certainly gotten worse. But that could just be the stress of small kids, or me growing up, which I've done a lot of over the past 10 years. I can see now that when I met H, I wasn't looking for a partner. I was out to prove to myself that I didn't need someone to take care of me, I could take care of myself (of course I was, I was only 21!!!). I was more than happy to have a guy who didn't do anything for me, because that was just more proof that I could do it all by myself. Except not really by myself, that was just too scary to contemplate! Then I finally grew up enough to realize that you can't do it all. When I needed to lean on H, I expected him to be there for me, but he wasn't. I had no reason to expect he would be--he never was.

Oh well. Live and learn. I still have hope that, if it's not a neurological thing, he'll grow up with me and we'll make it work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
Unfortunately, the type of problem you are describing is not unusual for couples with young children. Too often roles get polarized, partnership gets lost, and resentment begins to grow. This can destroy a marriage.
On the other hand, this can be turned around. Too often couple have not had effective role models for working as partners with kids. If one grew up where men simply worked, and women handled the kids, it is easy to make the assumption that that is the way things are.
Before things get worse, find a good qualified (AAMFT certified) couple therapist. The issue is usually not as simple as communication, but often is much deeper. A trained marital therapist can be very helpful.
David Olsen, PHD, LMFT (The Couple's Survival Workbook)
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top