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It’s taken me a long time to write this, but I’ve come to the point where I no longer can hold anything back. My marriage is on very shaky grounds and I just need some outside perspective.

Please bare with me, this is going to be long – it’s 5+ years worth of pent up frustration and hurt.

This is not a story about cheating – I haven’t cheated on her and she hasn’t cheated on me. I know this for a fact because she doesn’t have any friends here (doesn’t want to meet new people) and I’m the only person she ever goes out with. I on the other hand am a very extroverted person, I have a core group of friends I hang out with and many more that I view as acquaintances. I always invite my wife whenever I go out, but she always declines. This irritates me – I want to have fun with her, but I can’t have fun staying at home or always going out just the two of is.

I met my wife online about 10 years ago and we met in person about 3 months after we started talking – we were both 22 at the time. From the get-go it was an LDR, I lived on the West Coast and she lived on the East Coast but had family about 30 minutes from me who she’d come to visit 2 or 3 times per year. Mix that in with me going out there 3 or 4 times per year and we saw each other about ever other month for one or two weeks at a time. From the moment I met her, I knew she was the one I was going to marry and she knew it as well. We were both still in college so marriage was at least 3 or 4 years off in the future. Soon after graduating college, I proposed to her because it “was the thing to do.” I had been with her for 2 years, loved her and she was the type of girl who would never cheat on me and always be loyal. Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that those are the only two “wifely” qualities she has. We’ve now been married for 5 years.

What I’m going to say now may sound very cold and callous, but unfortunately, it’s the truth. I’m much more intelligent than my wife. I have a degree under my belt and am working towards a second one. She has an AA and is a preschool teacher but this isn’t the actual problem. The problem is that our conversations are always so superficial. If I try to start up a conversation about something going on that I saw on the news, or something interesting I saw at clinicals (I’m a nursing student) it’s as if I’m talking to a wall. I look at her and she has a blank look on her face and all she says is “Ok” and then goes back to doing what she was doing before. The depth of her conversations with me are what she wants to buy next, the house, how she has to clean, or what we’re having for dinner. I’ve told her how much this bothers me and all I get is the “ok” and blank look. About six months ago I just gave up on trying to have any sort of meaningful conversation with her. I now watch TV, read a book, or go online and read about things that interest me. This bothers me immensely (she knows it does because I’ve told her so) but what can I do about it? It especially bothers me because if I give her the same response she gives to me she gets extremely angry. I also must point out that she repeats herself quite a bit – which is also irritating and a point I’ve brought up to her before. She doesn’t seem to care – she’s the classic rug sweeper. I want to be able to connect with her on an intellectual level, but as I said I’ve given up. She grew up in a house where education was not seen as important – again, this is fine with me BUT what’s not fine with me and what she doesn’t understand is that she’s not taking an interest in this aspect of my life.

Communication between us is terrible and not from my lack of trying. I’m the kind of person that likes to lay everything out there. I grew up in a house where we discussed our problems, and even though there was often yelling involved, we still resolved them. She grew up in a house where the only form of communication was yelling. If anyone of my IL’s says something to the other – the immediately take it as an attack and begin yelling at each other. Communicating and coming to a mutually beneficial outcome was not something that was done in their household. If I’ve told her something that bothers me, she thinks that saying “ok” makes the problem go away. It doesn’t – it just makes it worse. She doesn’t understand that the problems don’t disappear by just saying ok. She also thinks that if I don’t bring something up for a while that it goes away. If I say something after a week or two about a previously discussed issue she says, “Well we’ve been fine up to now.” I don’t really know how to explain this well, but it’s as if she doesn’t realize that problems transcend time. She’ll say stuff that indicates she thinks something is a problem only in the here-and-now and that if it’s in the past (and unresolved) it should be a problem. She also doesn’t seem to understand that problems accumulate over time if they are not discussed and resolved. It’s almost as if I have to be upset 24/7 for her to realize that I’m upset – I’ve tried this, it doesn’t do a lick of good other than stress me out.

The only time problems are discussed between us is when I bring them up, and then she tries to flip it around on me. She won’t bring up ANYTHING unless I start talking about problems. Am I wrong to think that this is a problem? Shouldn’t she bring up her problems on her own time and by her own volition instead of sabotaging my problem-talking? This usually just ends up in an argument because all I hear from her is “how do you think I feel” or “well you do this and that” or some other kind of justification. This usually ends up in a huge argument because she does not understand anything I’m bothered about. I just want to scream because she always makes it about her. I have no problem discussing her issues, if she would bring them up during a separate occasion, but no – she always sabotages me.

For her every issue is about one of us being right and the other being wrong. We are sorely in need of marriage counseling but she is dead set against it – I honestly believe she thinks we have a good marriage even though I’ve pointed out time and time again that we are on very shakey grounds and need some outside help. She feels that if the counselor points out I’m wrong about something that I’ll get upset – this isn’t true. I desperately want my marriage to work and I know that it’s about compromise and not being right or wrong. She, however, sees compromise as me compromising on everything and her getting her way on everything. As an example, I planted some flowers along this little box we have against the house – these flowers are very prone to freezing over the winter so the extra heat from the house keeps them from freezing. Well she didn’t like that very much and wanted me to plant them where she could see them – threw every excuse at me including bees coming in the house (this was 2 years ago – no bees in the house yet). When I remained firm and explained that they were expensive to buy and prone to freezing she still would not let up – to the point where she started CRYING because I wouldn’t move them. This is the kind of behavior I put up with for 5+ years.

From the beginning of our marriage, she’s been completely unaffectionate and emotionally distant and the sex is few and far between. This wasn’t the case before we were married. When we’d visit each other, she’s always hang on me, grab my hand to hold it, touch me, kiss me, beg for me to come pick her up and take her back to my place so we could fool around. Pretty much from the moment we got married this completely fizzled out. I quite literally begged her for 5 years to be affectionate with me, to touch me without being asked, to hold my hand without being asked, to kiss me without being asked, but to no avail. Finally, about 6 months ago, I just gave up and she knows I have because NOW she’s doing all those things but it’s as if I don’t care anymore. It’s like it’s too little too late – I stand frozen when she hugs me and when she kisses me I don’t always return them back. It’s like I had to wait 5 years for this and now that I’ve given up she wants to do them. Did she get off on the thrill of the chase or something like that? I don’t know. All I know is that now it doesn’t do anything for me anymore. I’ve been so used to not being touched or kissed, that now it feels foreign to me, if that makes sense?

Sex is another huge issue for me – I think sex is extremely important in a marriage. I view it as a kind of thing that separates friends and spouses. You share yourself with your spouse in that manner but not your friends. Once we got married her interest in sex took a nose dive. I actually think it’s because of the birth control she’s on but she refuses to talk to her doctor about it or come up with other options. “It works for me and I don’t want to mess with my body” are the responses I get from her. I almost want to say “it sure does because your sex drive has taken a nose dive since you started using it.” She doesn’t seem to understand that lack of sex is a problem. When we first got married it was once a week, then it quickly went to once a month, once every two months, and the longest we’ve gone is once in 9 months. Over the past summer it picked back up to once per week when I finally told her this was a deal breaker for me. But now it’s gone back to once per month, again I told her it’s becoming a deal breaker but this time she doesn’t seem to care. I know this sounds shallow to some, but I find sex extremely important. It’s a way to connect with someone that only you and your partner share. She doesn’t get that, when I complain about our lack of sex she says “so, all you care about is sex.” I used to try to explain it to her, but she just didn’t understand so now I just say “if it was only about sex, I’d have left a long time ago.” She’s made me feel incredibly shallow for wanting to have sex as much as I do – 1 to 2 times per week, which I don’t feel is unreasonable for people in their early 30s without any kids.

Whenever I bring this up I get the “no one said not to have sex” but she does everything she can not to have it. If we’re watching TV and I ask her to come to bed with me she’ll say something like “I have shows to watch, I’ll come later.” I’m usually asleep by then or she’ll say something like “we’ll have sex tomorrow night.” Well when tomorrow night comes around, there’s something more important to do than to be intimate with her husband. Just the other day she said she wanted to have sex with me that night, shaved herself (she knows I love this) and looked real nice. Well suddenly something “important” needed to be done. That something important? The dog over-exerted herself playing during the day and was limping so my wife felt that she needed to baby the dog. When she came to be and saw that I was already half asleep I got the “Oh sorry, I know you wanted to have sex tonight.” I just rolled over and mumbled that I was used to disappointment from her. Well she didn’t like that one bit and flew off the handle; unfortunately – it’s become the truth. She just doesn’t seem to get it – for her being married on paper is just as good as our souls being married. She doesn’t understand that marriage is much more than just a piece of paper that ties two people together. This is a huge problem.

I actually feel like that night is the night that I was no longer in love with her – sure I love her still, but only as a person, not my wife. After crying myself to sleep for many nights during our marriage, I’ve just given up. I don’t feel any more pain, I don’t feel anymore love, I just feel numbness when it comes to her. I look at her now and I don’t see someone I want to stay married to anymore. I know this will sound counterintuitive after what I’ve written but a divorce would break her. I know that it wouldn’t be because she’s loosing me, but because she’s loosing a husband. I’ve come to the realization that her marrying me wasn’t about being with ME, it was about having a husband. I don’t want that in my marriage, I want someone who wants to be with ME. I’m no a cardboard stand in – I’m a person who deserves to be loved and to be with someone who wants me. I’m an extremely self-confident individual but these last five years have taken a toll on me. I lost friends because of my marriage and really thought that I wasn’t worth it to anyone and that no one wants to be around me – going back to school and making friends quickly, and GOOD friends at that, has shown me that I’m worth it to others and that people genuinely like being around me. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard from her “no one wants to be around you.” I started believing it and I don’t know why should would say this to me.

I think a lot of the problems stem from my MIL, but my wife refuses to believe it. My MIL makes it known to everyone that my BIL is her favorite child. Doesn’t say it outright, but makes it very obvious – I think she may have even said it to my mom once, but I overheard it so I can’t be sure this is what I actually heard. I’ve brought this up to my wife, gently, and she just said “I know, this is how it is in my family and it doesn’t bother me.” That may be the case, but how could it not erode my wife’s self-confidence – she has NONE and I honestly believe this is the source of all our problems. It’s not something I can fix though, it’s something she has to be able to fix on her own – so far she’s not willing to. My FIL has always been treated like he’s just around. My MIL shows no respect for him and he basically has no say in anything. My MIL’s word is the end all be all in their house and I think that’s how my wife feels it should be. This is not how I was raised, I saw my parents work together as a team. Sure, they had huge fights once in a while, but they always did work as a team and made decisions together. If one had more skin in the game than the other than the other would compromise, but I think that’s how it is in every situation with everyone.


Being on this forum, I know some of you may be thinking that she’s cheating on me, but this 100% isn’t the case. We are together all the time. The only time we aren’t around each other is when I’m at school and she’s at work (are schedules are roughly the same). The only time she goes out is when she goes to visit her parents and stays the night there. There is no opportunity for her to cheat so please do not bring this up – she’s not social at all and wouldn’t know where to meet guys if she was. I’d have more opportunities to cheat on her than her cheating on me but it’s not something I’d ever do, no matter how bad our marriage is. I’d never cheat, but to be honest, I can’t help thinking that there are women out there that are better suited for me than my wife is. I’m at the point now where I sometimes think divorce is my only option – as I said before, marriage counseling is out of the question for her and individual counseling for me will only do me good, I don’t think it would help my marriage out at all.

I’ve brought up divorce in the past, but that usually gets turned around on me too. I get the “well, that means you don’t love me anymore” response. I used to try to fight this, but she never understood what I was saying; for her divorce = no longer in love. This is true now, but when I did bring it up in the past, I was still very much in love with her. I told her that just because people get divorced doesn’t mean that the one filing doesn’t love the other one and pointed out to her that over our 5+ years of being married she never once gave me any indication that she loved me, while I did everything I could to show her I loved her (at least up until about 6 months ago when I had my aha moment). I’ve reached the point where I don’t care anymore what she thinks or feels. She’s going to feel or think those things no matter how much I try to explain it to her.

As I said, I’m done crying myself to sleep at night – I did this quite often for a long time but now I realize it does me no good. If I stay with my wife I don’t think I’ll ever have the marriage/spouse I feel I deserve/want/need. I guess maybe I already know what I need to do, but need some outside perspective. I may not have been cheated on, but living in the kind of loveless marriage I’m in is still very painful. I just want to be happy in my marriage and if it takes divorce and me being alone to be happy then I’d rather be single and alone than married and feeling lonely!

I don’t really have any questions to ask, but just wanted to get all this off my chest. It’s been 5+ years and an incredible burden to bear for me.

I know this was long, but to anyone who read it, thanks for reading. If anyone has some advice, it would be greatly appreciated. I’m not really looking for advice along the lines of “divorce her,” I’m looking more for advice about how to deal with this situation.
 

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From what you have written, I think you are different people. I can relate a little bit because your wifes mind set sounds like my husband. In the fact that he is in complete denial,refuses to see whats right in front of his face and is impossible to talk to or reason with. What I have learned is that this style of thinking will never change. You can stay and try to make her realise what you are trying to communicate or you can find a way out. Dont forget life is short. Good luck :)
 

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Mike, welcome to the TAM forum. I'm sorry to hear that you've been going through such frustration and pain for the past five years. You seem to be describing the behavioral traits of a woman having mild to moderate traits of a personality disorder (PD). One reason I say this is because of the abusive, screaming household your W grew up in. Another reason is that it is common for sex and intimacy to go off a cliff right after the wedding -- as occurred in your marriage.

A PD sufferer typically behaves more affectionately before the wedding because her infatuation over you convinces her that you are the near-perfect man -- thus holding her fears at bay. Those fears quickly return, however, as soon as the infatuation evaporates -- an event that usually occurs in 3 to 6 months. It can be stretched out to one or two years, however, in a long-distance relationship like yours, where you were together for only a week or two at a time.

If your W does have mild to moderate PD traits, I cannot tell you which one it is. Nor can I tell you how strong those traits are. I've never even met her. I nonetheless believe that, if you take time to read about PD traits, you will be able to spot the red flags (i.e., any PD traits) that are occurring.

If I had to guess, Mike, I would say you are describing moderate traits of SPD (Schizoid Personality Disorder, which is far far different from schizophrenia). Those traits include the following behaviors:

  • Does not desire or enjoy close relationships, even with family members;
  • Chooses solitary jobs and activities;
  • Takes pleasure in few activities, including sex;
  • Has no close friends, except first-degree relatives -- this seems consistent with your statement that "she doesn’t have any friends here (doesn’t want to meet new people) and I’m the only person she ever goes out with;"
  • Has difficulty relating to others;
  • Is indifferent to praise or criticism;
  • Is aloof and shows little emotion -- this seems consistent with "it’s as if I’m talking to a wall -- I look at her and she has a blank look on her face and all she says is “Ok” and then goes back to doing what she was doing before;" and
  • Might daydream and/or create vivid fantasies of complex inner lives (this might explain why she frequently gets lost in the conversation and repeats herself).
Yet, because you are describing a high functioning woman who has taught classes of very young children, I believe it may be worth your while to read about "secret schizoids." These are people who "present themselves as socially available, interested, engaged and involved in interacting yet remain emotionally withdrawn and sequestered within the safety of the internal world." See Schizoid personality disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
If anyone has some advice, it would be greatly appreciated.
Mike, I suggest you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with. I further suggest that, while you are waiting for an appointment, you read about typical PD traits so you know the warning signs. The place to begin reading, I believe, is with SPD traits.
 

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OK, we now have just your side of things. And in my 55 years I have learned, if nothing else, there are two sides to every story. It seems to me the problem probably lies with both of you. When one person lays all the blame on the other it's a definitive red flag.

So my advice is that the both of you need some help. You need to stop with the 'everything is all her fault' stuff and look more honestly at yourself. Otherwise the marriage is probably over. And I am sure she has some things to work on as well.

So get some personal and separate marriage counseling. And pay attention.
 

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Wow, wow MeditMike80....you described my STBXhusband to the T (minus the intelligence issue, he is very intelligent) You've described what I have attempted to describe to others perfectly in terms of how he reacts to problems, confrontation, etc. I really feel that individuals like your W and my H lack emotional intelligence and need individual counseling. It seems they have a severe fear of intimacy and a fear of anything that "rocks the boat" so they'd rather be in denial and pretend that everything is fine.

I begged my H to go to counseling for months, but he would adamantly refuse. I told him it was either counseling or divorce, and he still acted like our marriage was perfectly fine.

We did go counseling, after many months, but unfortunately it didn't do much to change our situation. We're separated now.

I realized that it takes two to make a relationship work, but sometimes only one to destroy it.

I really hope I could offer you better advice. If your situation does change with her, I'd love to know how
 

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Have you looked into His Needs Her Needs? See if she will read it with you?

If you want to try to rescue your marriage, it might help. If you do not, it will make you better informed for future relationships.

If I were you I'd try the first option to begin with. Then you can at least say that you have not given up without giving it every shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Have you looked into His
If you want to try to rescue your marriage, it might help. If you do not, it will make you better informed for future relationships.

If I were you I'd try the first option to begin with. Then you can at least say that you have not given up without giving it every shot.
I'm not going to quit yet...I do want to save my marriage. I made a commitment to my wife and I want this to work but only time will tell. For the time being, there is a positive update (read my next message).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Not many people took the time to offer any advice, but to those who did, thank you.

A bit of an update...

I edited the posting - took out the part about her intelligence and her mother - and gave her the letter before I went to work. Told her she needs to read the whole thing and we'll talk about it when I got home.

I came home to her in bed bawling and at first she started with the "so you're not in love with me anymore?" I didn't let her play the victim. I explained to her again why I felt that way - and I think she finally understood. She admitted that she grew up in a household where mom and dad didn't show each other any affection and that was probably the reason why.

The next day we didn't really talk all that much, she apologized for not being as loving as I need her to be but I had to go to work. When I came home we talked some more and she said she'll work on being more affectionate and loving - which is what I really need more than anything. The intellectual stuff I can get from friends. She doesn't want to go to a counselor so I agreed to give her a chance, but if she reverts back to her old ways we are going to a counselor.

It's only been two weeks, but there has been a marked improvement. I get kisses and hugs in the morning, when I go to work, and at night before bed. We make love every one or two days and she initiates more often. I'm cautiously optimistic that this will be the change I need. I also understand that there will be slumps, but I think the letter got through to her. She's apologized again a few times for being distant, unaffectionate, etc.

We haven't fought once in the past two weeks - we used to fight quite a bit and mostly because I was extremely frustrated with her lack of emotion. She's finally opening up more to me, tells me when something bothers her, etc....

As far as female friends, which I think she desperately needs, I'm going to start bringing her around my core group of friends from nursing school. There's six of us, all married and half male and half female. Hopefully she and the women can hit it off, especially since one of them is Persian (like my wife is).

Again, it's only been two weeks, but I'm hoping this will be a permanent change...if not, off to counseling we go.
 

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OK, this is good progress. Congrats!

Now, in this process, have you determined what makes her feel extra special? You have a chance to build a positive virtuous cycle now if you respond to her efforts by upping your own focus on addressing her needs.

What can you do today (that is meaningful to her) to show that you appreciate the effort that she is making?
 
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