5 Conversations for a Happy Marriage

It’s my firm belief that nearly all marital arguments can be boiled down to one of three related causes. They are:

  • You or your partner doesn’t feel adored.
  • You or your partner doesn’t feel heard.
  • You or your partner doesn’t feel understood.

You can avoid all of these marital stressors by regularly having the 5 conversations outlined in this post. I’m thrilled to have Jennifer Gill Rosier, PhD, bring you the following post based on her research into the communication tactics that lead to a happy marriage. Jennifer is an assistant professor of communication studies at James Madison University, creator of the site JensLoveLessons.com, and author of the recently released Make Love, Not Scrapbooks. What follows are the 5 conversations she says all couples should have in order to grow closer and understand one another better. Next time you find yourself staring at your spouse over dinner wondering what the heck to talk about, bring up one of these topics.

AWESOME INFO YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS: Dr. Rosier will be hanging out in the comments area to answer all of your burning questions about marital communication. She’s also giving away a signed copy of her book to one lucky person who comments. The winner will be chosen by a random drawing noon Friday Aug. 19th.

The 5 Conversations Every Couple Must Have

By Jennifer Gill Rosier, PhD

Good communication– those exchanges where you feel more loved, respected, or secure–is vital to your marriage’s success. What should you be talking about? Below are five conversations that you can implement into your daily interactions to enhance your marriage.

 The I Love You Talk

This one probably seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but unfortunately, many individuals let days, weeks, or even months go by without offering assurances to their partners. I cannot begin to express how extremely important it is to tell your partner, on a daily basis, how much you appreciate, adore, and need him or her. Communicating these things helps your partner feel like a significant part of your life, secure in your marriage, and valuable to you. And believe me, everyone wants and needs to feel this way.

The Sexual Likes & Dislikes Talk

Having an active and satisfying sex life is key to a healthy, happy marriage. And, one of the best ways to improve your sex life is to open the lines of communication between you and your partner. Studies have revealed that disclosing your sexual likes and dislikes to your spouse can improve your sexual and relationship satisfaction, bring you closer as a couple, increase feelings of intimacy and trust between the two of you, and even increase pleasure during sexual activities. Telling your partner what you like and dislike in the bedroom, however, can be scary and/or overwhelming. These feelings of apprehension are expected and completely acceptable. In order to ease your nerves about these talks and to increase your effectiveness when having this conversation, be sure to:

  • Maintain a positive tone.
  • Give clear descriptions of what you want and don’t want.
  • Be sensitive to your partner’s feelings and perspective.
  • Be realistic about what could actually be improved. In other words, avoid discussing topics that are not controllable like body shape or size.
  • Regularly “check in” with your mate because sexual preferences do change over time.

The Daily Activity Talk

Talking and listening to each other about the day’s ups and downs can have a significant impact on the positive emotions and feelings of closeness you share in your relationship. Talking to your spouse about the positive aspects of your day is more than just small talk. It’s important. According to Drs. Hicks and Diamond (2008), asking your partner about his or her day may lead to increased feelings of happiness, closeness, and intimacy. And these advantages are not just limited to your end-of-day discussions. All of those other little chats through out the day count, too.

The I Want to Understand You Talk

Have you ever struggled to understand your partner? We have all felt this way at some point or another. Why did he respond like that? How was I supposed to know what she really meant? How did he get that from our conversation? How did she not understand my point of view? Believe me, I know the feeling.

Sometimes, these misunderstandings can be explained by taking a look at (and then being sensitive to) your partner’s past experiences, core personality traits, and upbringing. Gaining some perspective by putting yourself in your partner’s shoes is a great way to solve and avoid conflict. But, taking your partner’s perspective is only the first step.  You also want your partner to understand you. Begin by explaining how something makes you feel. You might use the following sentences as a guide:

  • “When you say things like _________, it makes me feel _____________.”
  • “When you react like ___________, it makes me feel _______________.”

Then, give your mate a turn. And LISTEN to what he or she has to say. Really listen. Don’t interrupt. Once your partner finishes, tell your partner how you are trying to understand how he or she feels.

Next, you’ll want to discuss your game plan. What do the two of you need to work on? Note: this will not be one-sided. Both of you will need to work on something. Talk it out and even make pledges to one another about your plans to be better partners who are in tune with one another.

 The Respectful Talk

Speaking to your spouse with respect is more of a mindset than it is a one-time conversation. Still it is absolutely vital to a happy marriage. If the two of you do not respect one another, your relationship will have some serious problems down the road. Respectful communication includes:

  • Acknowledging one another’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Having your partner’s back.
  • Speaking to your spouse as if he or she is your equal
  • Including your spouse in your life and in your decision about life (big decisions and smaller, everyday decisions).
  • Asking (instead of telling) your spouse if he or she wants to do things.
  • Speaking to your mate in the same manner that you would speak to a stranger. If you wouldn’t say it to a random person on the street, them you probably shouldn’t say it to the person you love.

 On the other hand, respectful communication DOES NOT include criticizing your partner. Try to eliminate words like “never” or “always” from your vocabulary because these words are rarely true, are often exaggerated, and usually come just before a hurtful remark. It also doesn’t include belittling or demeaning your partner, making fun of your partner, treating your spouse like a child, bossing him or her around, threatening to leave the relationship (directly or indirectly), or giving ultimatums.

About Jennifer Gill Rosier, Ph.D.: Rosier is the creator of JensLoveLessons.com, an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at James Madison University, and author Make Love, Not Scrapbooks. Her broad scholarly research interests include communication skill development and relationship maintenance behaviors. Much of her current research focuses around examining the actual skills needed to effectively communicate about sex in romantic relationships and investigating the role that a wide variety of communication skills play in successful marriages that have experienced hardship (i.e. loss of a child, terminal illness diagnosis, raising multiples, etc.). In the future, she plans to publish two more books based on these two areas of research. Jennie is married to her favorite person on the planet, has beautiful boy/girl twins, actually likes change and trying new things, tries not to take herself (or life) too seriously, strongly believes that good social scientific research should improve the lives of others and should be accessible to the masses (like through her blog and this book), gets a huge adrenaline rush every time she steps into a classroom at James Madison University, highly enjoys sarcasm, and loves helping others enhance their communication and relationship skills.

52 comments… add one

  • Susan August 17, 2011, 12:07 pm

    Sounds like a great book! My boyfriend and I tell each other we love each other at least once a day and earlier this week he called to say much he appreciated me making his morning hot chocolate (which he drinks instead of coffee). That really went a long way for me. The one thing I noticed that isn’t on this list is having a money talk. That’s a huge source of tension in many relationships, so I think it’s important to get it out in the open and talk through differing spending habits or attitudes.

    Reply
    • Dr. Jennie Gill Rosier August 18, 2011, 10:05 am

      Great comment! Sometimes, the most significant comments from our partners are the ones that outsiders would view as trivial.

      I totally agree about the money talk being important! Check out chapter three in my book for an entire section about this.

      Reply
  • Angela Jennings August 17, 2011, 1:39 pm

    I have a lot to learn about marriage and communication. However, I am glad that my husband and I feel like we can talk to the other about anything, even something hurtful. And we say “I love you” at least several times a day and you’d think it’d get old hearing it…but it doesn’t.

    On a side note, I could’ve used this blog last night when my husband took me out to dinner and we each pretty much just stared at the other person b/c there wasn’t anything we could think of to talk about lol. We talk several times a day, so sometimes, in the evenings, there seems to be little left unsaid. I will keep this list in mind for future reference.

    Thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • Dr. Jennie Gill Rosier August 18, 2011, 10:06 am

      It’s so great that you feel like you can talk to your spouse about anything– keep the lines of communication open!

      Reply
  • ML August 17, 2011, 9:11 pm

    Thanks for the great post.

    One question — you mention “being realistic about what could be improved” e.g. not mentoining weight, etc. However, one HUGE issue I have with my marriage is that my husband just doesn’t care about his health (he says so himself), whether eating or cigarettes or sleep. (He says that he always thought he’d die by age 35, so the fact that we’re already past that means he’s going to be ok….) I honestly find this disgusting and depressing. And as he gains weight and wheezes, it’s really tough to be attracted to him.

    So how do you have THIS discussion while respecting the principles you outline??? (We otherwise have all of talks you mention, and OTHER than this issue actually have a pretty good relationship. But it’s tough when it makes me not want to be intimate.)

    Reply
  • Amanda August 17, 2011, 9:42 pm

    Excellent timing for this post! My husband and I are getting ready for a weekend getaway. I will have to remember those topics!
    Early in our marriage, my husband stopped trying to be romantic or help out around the house. Eventually this led to him not being involved in our children’s lives much once they came along and much resentment from me. He is now hopefully near the end of a two and a half year unemployment streak (didn’t try to find a job till recently), and is improving in so many ways! We participated in a marriage retreat and I have used everything I learned from this site to try to put our marriage back together. We are definitely in a much better place but I want to do more to let him know I appreciate all the effort he is putting into our marriage and family this summer.
    How can I speak to him and demonstrate my love and support without all the resentment getting in the way? I can’t just pretend the mess didn’t happen as I have been left with mental scars from the stress that will likely not go away anytime soon. (severe serotonin loss- basically extremely premature alzheimers that is hopefully reverseable) I don’t want him to feel responsible or that I am constantly upset with him, though I know I used to feel that way. I am really struggling to get past everything that happened but feel as though I am so close to being there! I just really want to encourage him and let him feel appreciated without any negativity. Any tips?

    Reply
    • Drummer Guy August 18, 2011, 8:32 am

      Check out Alisa’s book. It covers exactly the same situations. Seriously you would feel that she had a camera in your house….lol

      Ron :-)

      Reply
      • Amanda August 18, 2011, 10:01 pm

        Yay! I had been looking for something like that but didn’t think there would be anything that really related. Excited now!

  • Julie August 17, 2011, 11:30 pm

    I think this is the biggest area of contention in my relationship. Having been married 17 yrs, it’s our communication that seems to come up time and time again. It’s not typically what he says but HOW he says it. I look at the suggestions and think “yes, he should be doing that !”. But I think if I start, he’ll come around too. Well at least that’s what I’m going to try (again).
    We separated back in November and have recently worked more on our relationship. It has truly been a change in communication that has helped us turn the road. I hope, utilizing these techniques, we can continue to grow.
    Thanks so much for your post tonight !!

    Reply
  • Laura August 18, 2011, 5:49 am

    This is a great “blueprint” for conversations. I think it is important to pick the right time to have any conversation. For instance the other night we were both tired and cranky and snapping at each other. I walked away (aggravated and annoyed) but realized neither of us were in any frame of mind to even manage the civilities of everyday life.

    We usually try to check in each day – either with a quick call of via text just to say hi. We have always done this. My coworker thinks it is a little weird that we do this everyday as she does not. I feel it is important to know how his day is going and to just connect.

    Reply
  • bcc August 18, 2011, 6:13 am

    I really struggle with trying to understand my wife at times. Last night we were having a discussion and I, as usual, started assuming things before she was able to get her point across… a very bad habit of mine and one that frustrates her to no end. I must do a better job of listening, really listening, without interupting, assuming, or getting distracted. I’m working on it… a guy thing perhaps? My excuse…

    Reply
  • lillian August 18, 2011, 6:51 am

    Reading the 5 conversations prompted the following responses from me because I don’t feel adored, heard or understood! I have been married for 40 years this October and it does not feel like something I can celebrate. I have had personal counselling and couples counselling with different therapists over the past 30 years and for up to 3 years on the last occasion.

    1. Bringing up the topics causes an argument because my husband doesn’t want to hear about my unhappiness.

    2. Asking for reassurances brings either silence, excuses or an argument. These responses hurt and anger me so I am unable to reassure him because I don’t feel good about him.

    3. During the last 3 year attempt to work on our problems I brought up the subject of wanting to talk about our sex-life so I could express my likes and dislikes. He flatley refused the first time. The second time we ended up talking about his reluctance to talk and the third time just caused him to feel anger and he again expressed his wish to not discuss things like that. As a result we have not had sex for 3 years.

    4. Indulging in small talk on a daily basis does not bring us closer because of my hurt and angry feelings about my deep feelings not being listened to. It just feels like my concerns are being ‘swept under the carpet’ and I don’t matter.

    5. I have spent the best part of the last 30 years learning to understand him and acknowledging his difficulties and working with counsellors on our communication problems. However when I ask him to understand me the standard responses are either aggressive, defensive or a list of ‘poor me’ excuses. Even if we discuss any kind of gameplan, he will only follow through when it suits him or when he remembers.

    6. With regard to respect, he seems to respect me in a simple day to day way but since he continues to lie and deceive me despite knowing it will hurt me and the marriage and will be more concerned about not hurting other peoples feelings rather than mine I am not sure if he really does? he doesn’t include me in a variety of decisions especially if he thinks I might object in some way or prevent him from doing what he wants to do!

    In conclusion it is difficult now to communicate in the way described in the last paragraph because I experience him as either aggressive, rejecting or using childlike manipulative tricks. He has threatened to leave me many times in the past. Despite discussing this with a counsellor he still ‘offers’ to leave occasionally when I am talking about how unhappy I am. I experience this as a ‘disguised’ threat to leave and an attempt to ‘shut me up’.

    Sorry this has been so long and thankyou for reading. Lillian x

    On 18/08/2011 01:14, Project Happily Ever After wrote:
    > Project Happily Ever After
    >
    >
    > 5 Conversations for a Happy Marriage
    >
    > Posted: 17 Aug 2011 07:01 AM PDT

    Reply
    • David Justin Bibby August 18, 2011, 8:41 am

      Lillian,

      You are an amazing woman to have dealt with this for so long. You have endured years of unhappiness and that should not have happened. You DESERVE better. Because you have put all your efforts into loving and understanding your man, and he is not putting any efforts into loving and understanding you…you are at an impasse.

      Now, because I am a man, I can speak a little bit about your husband. He needs to GROW UP. He isn’t even aware of the good to bring to him every day. It seems as though he’s happy just doing his own thing, whatever that is. If I were to meet him on the street and ask him “How’s your marriage…” he’d probably say “Fine..”
      So your pain and suffering doesn’t even register on his radar.

      My wife was in a similar situation as you. She was unhappy for 10 years in our marriage. While she was keeping the house clean, planning meals, raising the kids, and finding ways to save money…. I was working, eating lunch with friends, playing video games, and reading books.

      I was too dense to see when I came home from work that when she asked “where did you go to lunch today?” what she was really saying was “I WANT to go out with you, PLEASE take me somewhere!”

      Then in our 13th year of marriage… we went thru a dark period… similar to what you are in now. No affection, No intimacy, No respect. While not specifically mentioned… divorce was on the horizon.

      I grew up fast… and became the leader of my household. It’s in a man’s nature to fix things, but I was the one needing to be fixed. When I understood that, I changed.

      I’m only telling you this because I would like nothing more than for you to find happiness and excitement in your life and marriage: Your husband needs a huge motivation to change. After 30 years… the only thing I can think of that’s strong enough to inspire change within him is you filing for divorce.

      Your message should be VERY strong:
      “My husband, I WANT to have a happy, affectionate, intimate marriage with a man who loves, respects, and cares for me. Now for a week or two, but for the REST of our lives together. I need you to decide now if you are going to be that man, or if someone else will be that man.”

      Lillian,
      I’m not trying to convince you to divorce your husband. But if things are going to change for the better.. they cannot continue going in the present direction. If you do file, be serious about seeing it to the end, because if it’s just a manipulation tactic on your part (meaning you don’t intend to see it trough)… he’ll see right through that and act like he doesn’t care.

      You’re a strong woman. You will find a way to get the message to him.

      Until then.. I would recommend reading the Project Happily Ever After material. But if doing everything suggested within doesn’t work for you.. then your husband truly does not care for you, and you should proceed accordingly.

      Warmly,
      David Justin Bibby

      Reply
      • lillian August 18, 2011, 9:36 am

        @ D.J.B. Thankyou so much for your understanding. Coming from a man it means a lot. Your wife is lucky that you were prepared to change. 2 years ago, whenIi realised I was at the ‘impasse’ and it seemed he would never do the necessary work of changing, I started filing for divorce. I was having personal counselling that gave me the courage to take that step. He had an Angina attack after having a stent fitted and I felt guilty of causing him the stress of a divorce. He moved out for 3 months for his health (or so he said) and I guess because deep down I didn’t want a divorce I suspended proceedings and started hoping that he would at last see that he needed to change. Because of needing further tests for his heart I was unable to refuse his request to return home and at first he was ‘on his best behaviour’. Within monthe his old deceitful etc. behaviour started to leak back in. That was over a year ago and I am now at the end of my tether again. I have known him since I was 15. married at 20 and am now 60 with our 40th. anniversary this October. We have 2 grown-up children, one granddaughter, a beautiful home and financial security. We are retired now and this should be a time when we can enjoy the fruits of our labours. How can I possibly break up my family and home for an unknown future. I am an introvert with only one friend I see occasionally. I trained to be a counsellor myself in my 40′s so I’ve done all the usual self-help stuff. And I don’t think I could ever trust or love another man now. A future of loneliness is too horrible to contemplate! Thanks for reading this. Lillian

  • Dr. Jennie Gill Rosier August 18, 2011, 8:39 am

    Thanks for all of your comments and questions so far!

    @ML- This is a tough one. I think that the conversation you have about your husband’s health should be separate from your discussion of your sexual likes and dislikes. I understand that his health impacts your desire for sexual activity, but I think that the best route to take here is to treat these topics as two separate issues.

    I also have a husband who smokes (and is addicted to Mountain Dew and McDonald’s–yuck!). In addition, seeing as how my father passed away from emphysema (from smoking cigarettes for 40 years), my husband’s smoking and health is an issue in my marriage as well.

    I’ve found that talking about his health in a compassionate, understanding manner (“I love you, I want to grow old with you, and I will help you in any way that I can.”) works best. Talk to him about how much he means to you and ask him if he wants to change his life. If he does, support him in every way possible. And, be patient. People don’t usually quit their addiction easily. You need to expect that he will go back and forth between smoking and not smoking for a while until he actually puts the cigarettes down for good.

    Saying all of that, I’m not sure if there is anything that really “works” in these situations. You can only express your feelings and beg someone to stop an addiction for so long (I watched my mom argue with and complain to my dad my entire life about his smoking habits and he never once quit; he smoked up until 2 weeks before he died). It’s a very complicated situation. And all of this can be applied to his eating habits as well.

    If his health is seriously hindering you from getting busy in the bedroom and he is not willing to make a change, then you need to decide if you can live with this. And maybe a different discussion needs to take place. Check out chapter ten in my book about managing conflict.

    @Amanda- Great question! This is an extremely common situation in marriages these days. I’ll admit, I’ve struggled with this as well. But at the end of the day, you (and I) need to move on. Living with resentment for the rest of your life is a terrible fate.

    Start off my telling him how you felt when he did certain things in the past. Be specific and avoid being critical by saying things like “You never…” or “You always…” Talk about some isolated instances so that he can truly understand how he hurt you. Hopefully, he’ll apologize for those things. Then, and here’s the hard part, you need to forgive him and let it go.

    One way to keep your resentment from creeping back into your head and to start recognizing all of the good stuff is to keep an appreciation journal. Go buy a cute little notebook (I say this because in my experience, I have to love the notebook to actually use it), and at the end of each day, write down at least one thing that your husband did that day that made you appreciate him (“Today, XXX took out the trash because he knows that I hate taking out the trash” or “XXX said that he liked my outfit today.” or “XXX worked really hard today on the garden.”). Looking back over your list every few weeks will really help you begin to appreciate him. The bonus: appreciation lists are a great gift idea! Check out chapters ten (manage that conflict) and eight (heart the hell out of your mate) in my new book for more tips about this.

    @Julie- Keep up the hard work! Communication is KEY to a happy, healthy marriage! Read all about communication in chapter three of my book.

    @Laura- Checking in through out the day is GREAT! My husband and I probably communicate (via phone or text) 2-3 times a day. I’ll share a story about what one of our crazy twins said in the car or he’ll call me about something that happened at work or we’ll just text a quick, “I love you.” Check out chapter three of my book for more about Drs. Hicks and Diamond’s 2008 research study about the daily routine talk.

    @bcc- Listening is so important in marriage. As I wrote on page 119 of my book, “Listening to your mate shows that you not only care about what is being said, but also that you care about your partner.” You already know what you need to work on, so now it’s up to you to make the change. And no, it’s not a “guy thing”–it’s a “person thing.” Men and women equally have trouble with this. Bite your tongue and wait for your wife to finish talking. And while she’s talking, avoid developing your answer to her. Pay attention to what she is saying and THEN think about what you want to say back. Be present in the moment and give her a chance to express herself without being judged.

    @ Lillian- Let me start by saying that I’m happy you and your husband are seeking professional help. There seem to be a lot of deeper issues here. One of the things that I would suggest is to read Alisa’s book (if you haven’t already) and pay close attention to how she started her project. When I first read her book, I completely fell in love with her process of forgiveness, learning to desire her husband, and teaching him to adore her. She also has a chapter (10, I think) where she goes into detail about how they learned to better communicate and speak a common language. This could definitely help you and your husband. Lastly, it worried me when you said, “I am unable to reassure him because I don’t feel good about him.” There has to be SOMETHING that you like(d) or love(d) about your husband. Think about these things (Why did you originally fall in love? What does he do now–no matter how small–that makes you like him, love him, appreciate him, respect him, etc?) and write them down. As I’m sure your therapists have already told you, writing can be very therapeutic.

    I hope this helps, even if just a little bit.

    Reply
    • lillian August 18, 2011, 2:56 pm

      Thankyou for your comments. Unfortunately we are not in therapy at the moment. We have had 5 attempts over the past 30 years and the last one was for 2 and 3/4 years and ended 2 years ago. Ailsa’s words on forgiveness don’t help because forgiveness is about letting go of the past and my husband keeps on making the same mistakes in the present and shows no sign of the future being any different. What I can’t forgive is his refusal to change. You are right that there are deep issues of infidelity, betrayal, lies and emotional blackmail so even though I can remember why I fell in love with him I think he has destroyed that love. I would settle for an honest, mature and affectionate relationship that honours our children and the life we’ve built together but I’m not holding my breath!

      Reply
      • David Justin Bibby August 18, 2011, 4:03 pm

        Lillian,

        The fear of the unknown is certainly a major force keeping you in the situation you are in right now. Right now…there are men out there who are doing everything they can to save their marriages from a non-affectionate, non-intimate wife. Even though they themselves may have caused the situation over a long period of time, they have undergone the growth process and are now NEW MEN. BUT… some of these men are faced with such a wall of resentment coming from their wives that even though they have made REAL change… their wives will not let go of the hurt and move on with their plans to leave them anyway. These guys are out there…they know how to treat a lady…they know how to make a marriage work…but their wives never gave them the chance. They are looking for a wife who will receive their love and give it back to them. That is exactly what you want too isn’t it?

        The only other thing I can say is that you weren’t created to live a life of pain and suffering. You can change yourself till you’re blue in the face (by making forgiveness and thinking positively a daily habit) but that can only take you so far. If your husband is not a reciprocating, contributing, partner to you… they you don’t really have a marriage!

        I know a woman who has been married for 15 years… her husband is not a bad person… but he treats her badly from time to time. He’s always talking in controlling terms “You ought too…” “That’s not how you do it…” “I need you to handle this now…”. She feels unimportant, unloved, and very unhappy daily. But, she’ll never leave him because the man cannot read. He won’t learn to read, and she’d feel horribly responsible if she left him by himself and something happened.

        Where do you draw the line between your happiness and the well being of another?

    • ML August 20, 2011, 8:04 pm

      Thank you, Dr Rosier – that is tremendously helpful. I’ll check out your book as well!

      Reply
  • Joanne August 18, 2011, 9:20 am

    I think communication is always a sticky issue and something both men and women need to learn how to do better. In my case I don’t wish to generalize but I find that men are not good talkers. Especially about anything personal or intimate. My husband and I did 1 year of marriage counseling before calling it quits and expressing himself and understanding my need to express myself was never resolved and we never were able to bridge the distance between us. The even learned to talk in smaller sentences to keep his attention but in the end we spoke two different languages and while I was willing to learn his he wasn’t interested in learning mine.
    Now he realizes how much he has lost because he wouldn’t stretch beyond himself and has actually had a mental collapse because of it and I will have to live my life without him so if I could stress anything it would be this:
    Men- I know your not great intimate talkers, I know most of you would rather take some ACTION to fix a problem but sometimes the best action you can take is to be an active listener and understand that she doesn’t WANT to tell you how she feels, she NEEDS to tell you how she feels and wants the validation that can sometimes only come from you.
    Sorry to be on a soap box but I know how much can be lost.

    Reply
    • lillian August 18, 2011, 10:31 am

      @ Joanne. It may seem a strange thing to say but I was comforted by your comments. All the self-help advice just doesn’t fit for my situation. Like you, all the counselling in the world can’t help if one person isn’t prepared to understand the other or make the necessary changes for a happy, healthy relationship. I am worried that my husband will have a heart attack and my children and other people will blame me for the stress I have caused him. I have been told constantly by well-meaning people and counsellors that there is life after divorce. I would be interested to hear how you have managed and whether you felt you tried everything you could have to save your marriage? Lillian

      Reply
  • GayEdelman August 18, 2011, 10:32 am

    I just wanted to add that I’ve found in any conversation, if I soften my belly, breath gently, stay in the moment and ask for a pause when I need it, things stay more peaceful and sometimes even productive. If I stay in the energy of peace, in other words, it leaves space for the other person to be and we can find our way to each other.

    Reply
  • Joanne August 18, 2011, 10:52 am

    Lillian- everyone who knows our situation would say that I tried everything I could but it really does take two for a marriage to survive or for one person to settle for less than they want. I’ve seen that too. What is great about this blog is that Alisa is trying to give us all the tools to have a GOOD marriage not just stay together. It isn’t a 50/50 proposition but I was tried of the 90/10 and while some people would say that marriage is a sacrament not to be dissolved, I became so despondent at what I perceived to be my failure I needed to distance myself from him.
    That being said the three marriage counselors we went to during our 16 years after a period of time all came to the same conclusion and even the Christian counselor said I should leave that he was either incapable or unwilling to change (that was really the only thing in debate).

    It took alot for me to give up on the us I always hoped to have but I finally did and 6 months later when he actually had to move to his apartment he had a complete psychotic break and was hospitalized. I feel a sense of responsibility for that because some part of me knew he was not strong enough to go it alone but I did it anyhow and must live with that.
    Soooooo… I’m afraid I can’t give you much comfort there but to say that only you can decide when enough is enough and when it is your turn to look after yourself and care more about your mental health than someone else. I don’t regret my decision to separate and now divorce but I wish with all my heart it could have been different. This will be my biggest regret.
    All that being said, we must learn to forgive ourselves as well as each other and I am trying to do so. I like the peace in my life now, I like taking care of myself and I look forward to whatever the future may hold. I have good friends , Alisa, Kathy and drummer guy included and feel fulfilled in other ways.

    Reply
    • lillian August 18, 2011, 11:58 am

      @ Joanne….Your honesty and strength are inspiring but I ‘hear’ the sadness too. I can identify with a lot of what you say. I am wondering how old you are and whether you’ve always had good friends and a support structure around you? I am 60 and don’t have more than one friend I could communicate with and she lives quite a distance away. As an introvert I prefer to stay at home and have been married for 40 years so I think it’s very difficult for me to ‘let go’. I don’t know how you found the courage to face what you have but I am really happy that you have found peace in your life. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet! Lillian x

      Reply
      • Joanne August 18, 2011, 12:32 pm

        Lillian- I am 53, I have three grown and gone children and hopefully some grand babies soon. I have never been accused of being an introvert but believe me it took a conscious effort to “put myself out there” and gain some friends at a time I really needed them. It started with having a drink with my co-workers after work on a Friday night and having lunch with a couple of the gals after church but now I have a wonderful network of friends and yes I know how blessed that makes me. One friend I had met at a collectibles convention I went to years ago even flew up to Jersey (where I live) from Georgia to take care of me after an abdominal surgery I needed.
        My “sadness” comes from not wanting to be alone. It’s not that I don’t like my own company but more of a need to share my life with “someone special” and the long years of trying to make the marriage work, my impending divorce and the years ahead still fill me with a vacant spot. I just try not to dwell there. I too am a homebody but that is because I would rather cuddle with someone and watch a movie or just talk than be out running around in my free time. Still, I am choosing to play the cards dealt to me right now and see where I am headed next and not dwell on the shoulda,woulda,couldas.

  • lillian August 18, 2011, 1:03 pm

    @ Joanne……. Again your strength is commendable! Unfortunately I am not religious so cannot gain any support there. My husband and I ran our own business for 25 years before selling up and retiring so I don’t have co-workers to talk to. My struggles with ken have often centered on him flirting with other woman so all the foursomes we used to enjoy have floundered. When I trained to be a counsellor in my 40′s I met lots of people and thought I was making friends but I also met with a lot of rejection so gradually stopped the personal growth groups and voluntary work. My trust in men and other people has therfore been dented badly. Like you I yearn for a simple, close and loving relationship with someone who values me. I don’t want to reach out to others anymore.. been there, done that and it didn’t work. I know I sound negative but I guess that’s inevitable considering where I am. I still read this blog though hoping that I will eventually read something that will help. I have read the synopsis of Ailsa’s book and her very sound and practical advice. But it’s as you say “It takes two”. Thanks for reading my comments and offering yours. Support of any kind is always helpful, isn’t it. Lillian x

    Reply
  • Melanie Haiken August 18, 2011, 2:27 pm

    Great advice, but there’s one thing I am always stuck on in these discussions. So I totally agree that these types of conversations are terribly important, and my relationship is sadly lacking in them, particularly the sharing/listening how was your day conversations. Yet the advice is always to avoid criticizing your partner, so how do you say “it bothers me that we don’t have these conversations” without it sounding like criticism? Every time I try to talk to my partner about what’s lacking in our relationship, the response is “There you go again, criticizing me and trying to make me feel bad.” But how do achieve change without bringing up problems? And don’t tell me to try asking about HIS day or initiating the conversations; I do that constantly, asking him all the questions I wish he’d ask me and initiating all the affectionate and listening behaviors I’d love to receive but the result is nada.

    Reply
    • lillian August 18, 2011, 2:40 pm

      @melanie…. I really feel for you and yes the advice is great PROVIDING you have a partner that wants to do their part and really wants to have a better relationship! I think the starting point is to determine whether your partner wants you both to have a happy marriage and whether he is prepared to accept responsibility for what he needs to do to make it happen. I have tried to get my partner to work with me to improve our marriage for the past 30 years. Countless years of counselling have not helped. I truly hope you have better luck than me.

      Reply
    • Dr. Jennie Gill Rosier August 18, 2011, 3:03 pm

      I hear this question all of the time. You can and should bring up problems in your relationship. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are a few things to take note of here.

      1. Complaining is different from criticizing. Talking about one specific behavior is complaining, while making generalizations about your spouse’s character is criticizing. For instance, “I felt taken advantage of yesterday when you didn’t help me clean the house” is complaining and “You never help me clean the house and it makes me feel taken advantage of” is criticizing.

      2. You and your mate both need to be open to complaining. Have a conversation with your partner about complaints (before there are any actual complaints to talk about). Talk about how you want to go about bringing up conflict. Talk about things that you generally say during conflict that offend your spouse and then talk about things that your spouse generally says that offends you. This should be framed as a learning experience (you’re both learning about one another’s conflict preferences) and not an argument. Listen to your spouse, accept his point of view, express your preferences, and that’s it. No disagreements. No rebuttals. Just listening.

      3. Refrain from complaining all of the time. Pick your battles and let some things slide. Life is too short to be arguing all of the time. To hep with this, you could establish a gripe night 2-3 times a month where you each bring ONE complaint to the discussion. Talk about it, listen, and work towards a solution. “What can we do to fix this?”

      As you’ll read in chapter ten of my book, it’s not always about how MUCH conflict you have with your spouse, it’s more about HOW you deal with that conflict. Working towards a solution together is key.

      ~Jennie

      Reply
    • Tim_UK August 18, 2011, 10:22 pm

      This may help:

      One of the weird things about relationships between men and women is that women obsess about men’s insides (ie. their character, etc) and men obsess about women’s outsides (ie. their bodies, etc). However, because women also obsess about their outsides (and in doing so criticize and want to change them), men tend to assume that when women talk about our insides, they are also criticizing and wanting to change them.

      Reply
  • lillian August 18, 2011, 5:05 pm

    @ D.J.B. Thankyou for your comments. I read your words in the first paragraph which were so emphatic I wondered if you felt your wife didn’t appreciate your efforts to change. I am very worried that if my husband did ‘grow up’ it will be a case of ‘too little too late’. However, I feel at the moment, that I have sufficient generosity of spirit to value a change if it came. I have had many versions from counsellors, friends and families asking me what you wrote at the end but to leave is still a very hard decision because I really can’t imagine being happy if everything I have ever known since I was 15 is gone. What you say about other men out there wanting decent relationships may be true but my husband has so destroyed my trust in him that I don’t think I could ever trust that another man could love me. Terribly sad I know but still true.

    Reply
    • Tim_UK August 18, 2011, 10:04 pm

      Lillian. Many years ago I was listening to a talk on love and marriage which was being given by a Buddhist monk (who was western and married). At one point he was asked how to know when to give up on a relationship by a woman in a similar situation to yours. She explained that her partner would never do anything for her. She wanted to know if she should leave. He thought for a while and then said that she could decide for herself as set period of time, and for that time do everything for him, unconditionally and without any need or desire for him to do anything in return. If by the end of that period, he had not started to give back, then she should go.

      What I got from this is that when we do stuff, give stuff, give ourselves, etc, we do so wanting something back. And of course we should, that’s the bargain. But some people can’t open their hearts to this fair exchange because they see it a demand and controlling. I think I’ve read through all of your words, and what came across is that you don’t want to leave, but you don’t know how to stay. So, since you have tried everything else, why not give it a go. Give yourself totally to accepting him as he is, require no changes from him, love him as the selfish, or shut down, or dishonest man that he is/may be. In fact, see him as a strange and beautiful piece of art that is what it is, and there is nothing you can do to change it. Need nothing different from him. But do it with the thought in your mind of, ‘Just for a month, I can do it for a month and then I’ll go’ (or week, or two months, or day, or whatever you choose). At the end of that period, decide on a further period to see if you can go further, for your own satisfaction of trying, or if you want to, then go. Either way, if you do decide to go, you can do so knowing you did what you wanted: to love someone without conditions. If he changes, then maybe stay. But I don’t think it will matter. If you can do it (and I know it is really really hard), but if you can do it, then I think you will be happy enough, with you, to not need to worry about if you stay or not.

      Ps – By the way, I wanted to also say that unless he wants to leave you and does not have the courage to do it, then it may be that his offering to go is the only way he can show his love for you – by releasing you from pain.

      Reply
      • lillian August 19, 2011, 3:54 am

        @ Tim……Thanks so much for your wise words. It’s hard to give a true and accurate picture of ones marriage/life in a forum like this. I have been giving my husband ‘chances’ and time to change for the past 20 years. You are quite right that I don’t want to go but don’t know how to stay! Since he moved back home last year after living somewhere else for 3 months, I have been trying to ignore his faults and give him yet more time to change his ways but I couldn’t accept him still deceiving me in ways that he knew would hurt me and then lying about what he had done ( nothing new you understand!). When I told him last Friday that our pending 40th. Anniversary was making me depressed because we still didn’t have the kind of marriage we could both celebrate he became defensive etc. (nothing new again). After a frank explanation of how upset with him I was, he locked himself in his bedroom and has only come out 3 times since that I’ve seen, for bathroom breaks and once to make a sandwich. He has a bottle of orange in his room and his medication and today is the 4th. day he has been shutting himself away like this! I believe he is trying to emotional blackmail me in the same way he always has, to get me to stop ‘complaining’ about not being happy with his behaviour.
        It started years ago with tantrums and storming out to the spare room if I didn’t feel like sex. Then it was staying out overnight without telling me where he was. 6 years ago he locked me out of our bedroom and I went to a friends house to stay the night. That resulted in 3 years of counselling which didn’t work and when I gave that up 6 months of almost total silence between us. When I told him I didn’t want to live with him anymore he left the house, as I said for 3 months. Now he is in his room and I am naturally worried about his health and what I should do. I wonder what your Buddhist friend would suggest? P.S. he has constantly threatened to leave as well as offering so I don’t think it means he loves me. It is just his way of swinging from a passive/aggressive approach to an openly aggressive approach. Sorry to go on like this but clearly I am at my wits end with how to manage this situation. If I started divorce proceedings again he could either threaten suicide or lock me out of the house etc.

  • Tim_UK August 19, 2011, 5:13 am

    Lillian, I don’t have advice or wise words, just a shared answer from somewhere else.
    But reading your reply I can’t help but wonder what he is staying for. Is it companionship, is it habit, is it he is too scared to be alone? What does he get out of the marriage? He must surly be unhappy too. Do you know in what way and why – why he is unhappy I mean? Locking himself in the bedroom does not sound like he is trying to hurt you; it sounds more like he is trying to protect himself from hurt. I just wonder if he is not in fact as sad and hurt as you.

    (What is he dishonest about? It sounds important to you).

    Reply
    • lillian August 19, 2011, 6:19 am

      @ Tim…I asked him about 3 years ago why he had stayed with me. He said it was because I made him feel safe. Since we have 44 years of history,children, lovely home and financial security, it would be just as hard for him to leave me as it would be for me to leave him.We have often talked in therapy and between ourselves that he relates to me as his mother or an authority figure. His behaviours all point to that. Another person on this blog said he needed to grow up and I’ve been asking him to do that for at least 20 years since his ‘sulks’ and ‘tantrums’ first started. I have said I want an honest grown-up relationship where trust and mutual consideration are important. He certainly is unhappy because I believe every time I tell him I am not happy about being ignored or lied too or excluded from his social life etc. he becomes the little boy who worries his mum doesn’t love him anymore. You are right about trying to protect himself but it is still a childish manipulative trick. In therapy he said he remembered as a child, if anyone was angry with him he would go and hide behind a couch and wait for someone to come and get him. This hiding in his room is just the latest way in which this behaviour manifests itself. He is hoping that I will come and get him with open arms, affection and forgiveness. Any child expert will tell you that to succumb to childish tantrums and ‘acting out’ will only enforce the bad behaviour. You have to leave them to it until they realise it isn’t working. The trouble is though, he’s an adult and capable of doing more harm to himself and me and our marriage. I don’t know which of us is hurting more but I do know he is trying to manipulate me in a destructive and hurtful way and that is emotional and mental abuse. We have spoken of this in therapy but he just seems incapable of managing his emotions any other way. Thanks for writing. Writing back helps me a lot even if there seems no answer to my dilemma.

      Reply
      • Tim_UK August 19, 2011, 3:44 pm

        That explains a lot, well all of it really. It is very common for men to want their wives to be their moms – and in that I am no different at times, even though my wife is much younger than me (mind you, she enjoys the power/control, so we work pretty well there). But it does sound like he has this pattern much deeper than most and that would almost certainly stem from some pretty seminal event with his mother or a mother figure when he was a child. And it sounds like he would rather recreate that mother-son dynamic than find a way to heal it.

        All of his behaviours sound very much like he is trying to either provoke you to be a mother, or test your love (ie. to see how much you will take). I’ve worked a lot with damaged kids and they test their carers to try to make them abandon them – trying to prove to themselves that they are safe. Often the result is that they prove themselves right not to have trusted, as eventually the carers wil give up, and then the kids shut down as a result. He sounds like this so I’m guessing him mom or someone abandoned him.

        I take it you have no interest in being a mom to him or being in charge?

  • lillian August 19, 2011, 6:29 am

    @ Tim… Just realised you asked me what he was dishonest about and I ‘m afraid it is a whole variety of things. Sometimes it’s to avoid doing something he doesn’t want to do or to make sure he gets his own way about something. Sometimes it’s because he knows he has done something that will upset me and get me angry. Sometimes he lies to save face or to create a drama that gives him an audience. Sometimes he lies because he is embarrassed or ashamed of something or because he is trying to avoid a situation that he feels anxious about. And last, but not least, he lied about sleeping with my sister-in-law. Even though it was a very long time ago he continued to flirt with other women whilst ignoring me without considering how that would make me feel! I am upset about it because it is selfish and inconsiderate behaviour that shows a disregard or respect for me and our marriage and ultimately destroys trust and intimacy which of course it has. I am also angry because despite discussing all this at length he still won’t stop! He may be a ‘compulsive liar’; I don’t know. I just know it hurts me.

    Reply
  • David Justin Bibby August 19, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Lillian,

    Permit me to tell you about me when my marriage reached it’s darkest point during our 13th year… My wife was ready to leave because she wasn’t “in-love” with me anymore. By her own admission… I was a good father, a caring person, a hard worker, a great provider, and always on the same page when it came to the kids. I did not smoke, I did not drink, I did not get angry, yell, scream to get my way. I didn’t cheat on her. I never physically or emotionally abused her. I DID hide the fact that we had some money problems in the past, but we had already resolved them by the time this occurred.

    So why would she even consider leaving me? The reason was very simple. I was NOT meeting her emotional needs. She wanted to feel special. She wanted to feel that she was the only person that mattered to me. She wanted to feel REAL attraction for me. She wanted someone she can look up to instead of down to.

    The problem was that I was a doormat to her. I was a needy, “yes” – man, who would jump up and down to cater to her. When she wanted to buy something I said “Yes” fully knowing that our account was getting low (hence the money issues). I had no spine!

    Now… I do not fault her for any of this. Because I learned real quick all the things I was doing that was unattractive…and I grew a backbone over the course of 3-6 months..and became the leader I was meant to be. Today we are happier than ever, and though things are not perfect (they never are) we at least have a new found love and respect for each other.

    Your husband…has continued to hurt you…and hurt you…and hurt you. Whenever you speak a word of negativity… i imagine he just rolls his eyes and thinks “here we go again!” and then proceeds to use the only tricks he knows. Hiding in his room, or yelling and screaming at you to beat you into submission. He doesn’t care about what you’re saying… he just wants you to leave him alone and let him do his own thing (which does not include you).

    When he thinks you’re on the brink of leaving him… his next trick is even more devious. He’ll threaten to leave you first! Indeed he separated from you for three months just to prove a point. He came back because he wanted the convenience and security of having a wife, or it was getting too expensive for him to live by himself.

    So my recommendation for you, and feel free to take or leave any part of it, is to buy Alisa’s book and read it through. Take TIm_UK’s suggestion to put for all effort into forgiving him daily and thinking only positive thoughts about him, and treat him positively with every interaction you have with him. The goal here is to model the type of behavior you want to see in him. This could be a 2-3 month long project or more if you want to drag it out longer… but I also suggest that during this process you are making plans to EXIT the marriage should he decide that he’s not going to be your willing affectionate respectful partner in marriage. Should that occur, you execute your exit strategy. Walk out and leave a note behind… nothing more. He may act like he doesn’t care… he may pout and scream and throw tantrums… and if you come back as a result of his acting out… then he’ll have reminded himself yet again, that his methods work. If you leave…it has to be FOR GOOD.

    My pastor once said “Two people cannot walk together unless the agree…” and the two of you have been living in disagreement and disharmony for so long that neither of you knows how else to live. It’s unknown… and it’s scary at first. But the unknown soon becomes the known…. and you can live free of tension.

    I wish only the best for you.
    David

    Reply
  • lillian August 20, 2011, 3:42 am

    @ Everyone….. Thankyou all for your comments and for the understanding and concern you have shown plus the suggestions! Over the years I have tried all of the things that have been suggested and I personally have changed a great deal from the shy, retiring child I was when I got married. Unfortunately my husband hasn’t! I have just watched a video of Alisa and her husband on T.V. In this interview she says that up until her daughter was born they were pretty much o.k. wheras I wasn’t happy with my marriage from the very beginning and actually became very depressed. Because I loved him very much, I thought I was still happily married though. He had the typical ’7 year itch’ with my sister-in-law and other flirtations that I didn’t know about til much later.(Yes I was stupid and very young.). The interview also stated the 10 stages in her process. The 3rd. or 4th. was to get your spouse on board. I have been trying to do that for the whole of my marriage and although he has gone to counselling he still behaves, every so often, like a selfish, dishonest and rebellious teenager.To all those people who have recommended her book, I have this to say. I have read her shortened version several times. One of her main points is to forgive and let go which is what I seriously tried to do for the past year. But forgiveness is about letting go of past events and since my husband keeps repeating the hurtful and damaging behaviour I am in a state of constantly having to forgive him. So it’s hard to do the loving things that are advised. What hurts the most is that at times he seems fully aware of what he is doing and appears to show remorse but still doesn’t ‘grow up’! So I really don’t think reading the book would help me in my situation at all. To conclude, the consensus of advice just leads me to divorce but I am not financially independant, young, in employment, have religious views or a close group of friends (by choice) to whom I can turn. Having a complete family group of my own to share my life with is all I need and all I have ever wanted. If I divorced, I would lose that completeness, so basically I’M SCREWED!! It’s all my own fault for staying with someone in the hope he would change. You probably all think I’m an idiot for staying. I guess I’ve just wasted 44 years of my life waiting for a miracle that hasn’t come. Thanks for reading Lillian

    Reply
    • Tim_UK August 20, 2011, 4:35 am

      I don’t think you’re screwed, and I don’t think you wasted your time. Nor do I think this is the only way life with your husband can be. But you’re saying your happiness rests on him changing, and have wanted and waited for him to change all his life. I don’t understand why you think another person should change to suit you. Why don’t you change into someone who is ok with him as he is? If you can’t do it, then at least you’d know why he can’t and find some peace from letting your expectations go.

      Reply
  • lillian August 20, 2011, 5:48 am

    @ Tim-uk………I appreciate that you are trying to help me and having someone to write to in this way does help. However I think your statement” I don’t understand why you think another person should change to suit you” implies that I am an arrogant person who has unrealiastic or inappropriate ideas about marriage and relationships. Your suggestion for me to change also implies a lack of understanding of how much I have changed already to understand and accept the way my husband is. Asking me to change into someone ‘who is o.k. with him as he is’ is going against all the normal, natural basics of a human being in a healthy, adult relationship. I only want an adult relationship which is based on mutual trust and consideration of the other persons feelings. A relationship where one person lies, deceives and betrays the other is not one that is conducive to happiness so to suggest I accept him as he is is unrealistic. I do know something about what I am saying because I spent 15 years of my life training and practising as a human relationship counsellor and have helped many people over those years as well as continuing to read books, attend seminars, workshops and working in various voluntary agencies. I did all that because I was looking for answers or solutions to my unhappy marriage. The fact that I am on this blog and have read Alisa’s helpful advice is part of my process in letting him go and trying to understand why he can’t change but I don’t think I’ll ever know that. I hope to find some peace from letting my expectations go and find the courage to finally part but I don’t expect I will ever be happy with whatever my future holds.

    Reply
    • Tim_UK August 20, 2011, 1:08 pm

      I know, it is hard to hear. But it was what you said you were saying to your husband – that he needs to change. I thought if you heard someone say it to you – even someone who you didn’t have to live with – you might get a sense of how it might be for him to hear it. And if you’re angry with me, or hate me, at least you can put me out of your mind. I don’t think he can do that and perhaps that’s why he locks himself away.

      Reply
      • lillian August 20, 2011, 1:43 pm

        @ Tim….I know it’s a hard thing to hear but if my marriage was on the line and someone I loved was unhappy I would do everything in my power to make the changes they needed provided they were reasonable, normal and fair. My husband knows the changes I am asking for are reasonable and fair, he just doesn’t want to do what I ask him. He gets angry not just because it hurts him to know I am unhappy but also because he has a problem with authority figures and hates to be told to do something he doesn’t want to do. He locks himself away because he doesn’t know how to deal with problems in an open, mature and assertive way. Instead he runs away, hides or tries to avoid dealing with them altogether. I am not angry with you and I don’t hate you. I know you are trying to help. Unfortunately you’re not able to grasp the real issues involved and I no longer feel this is being useful so I will be unsubscribing after submitting this.

  • Alisa August 20, 2011, 11:04 am

    I FORGOT to announce the winner yesterday. It’s Julie. Julie — I will be in touch after the weekend to find out where to mail your book. Congrats!

    Reply
  • Laura August 20, 2011, 2:12 pm

    @ Lillian- you may have already unsubscribed from this blog but I hope not. My heart goes out to you and your situation. I can’t imagine how you feel after all this time. As I havehave been reading your posts one thing kept jumping out at me. It seems as though your husband can be a bit of an emotional bully. I know what this is like as mine can be that way as well. When this happens now I call him on it. He doesn’t like to hear it but after he calms down he realizes most time that I am right.

    I do not know what the solution to your situation is but it seems as thouh you get some much needed support from sites like this, even if at the time the comments are posted it doesn’t appear or feel that way. I wish you luck in your journey.

    Reply
  • Tim_UK August 20, 2011, 4:50 pm

    Lillian,
    I know I don’t know the full story. I was just reflecting back what had come over in your posts in case it helped to see it. Just trying to hold up a mirror.
    Best wishes, Tim

    Reply
  • Joanne August 20, 2011, 9:32 pm

    Lillian: You have obviously tried for many years and have acknowledged that your husband will never be who you need him to be. Two thoughts:
    1) He will not change , doesn’t seem to be even interested in trying, can you accept this? If not:
    2) Screw all the people who say keep trying, you have tried for a very long time, it may be time to make the tough choice: a life less than you deserve or to move on knowing you mat be alone but without the turmoil.

    Not all marriages are meant to be saved or are healthy to stay in.

    Reply
  • Stephanie August 22, 2011, 11:40 am

    I’m having trouble with all of these! I have come to the point where my partner won’t tell me he loves me or appreciates me or how lucky he is to be with me anymore. We’ve only been married for 5 months and it’s completely falling apart at this point. I’m not good at seeing his point of view when it comes to him always wanting to go out with his friends instead of staying home with his family. I do see his side of it but I don’t know how to let go and balance things. I want to sit with him and talk to him about this stuff but he’s not interested! Help!

    Reply
    • David Justin Bibby August 22, 2011, 9:03 pm

      Stephanie,

      If you’ve been married only 5 months…. and already the allure and passion is gone… then we have a problem. Now.. I don’t know how old you and your husband are… but I do know that when a man feels like he’s “won the fair lady” there is a tendency to have a sense of entitlement and therefore there is no longer a need for romance anymore.

      Obviously this isn’t what you signed up for. Let me tell you the opposite side of the coin for a moment… Suppose a man and a woman are having a great relationship…frequent romance and sex and a surrounding air of affection. The man thinks… “this is great… I want this to continue for the rest of our lives.” Then he proposes and they get married shortly thereafter. On the wedding night…they were to tired to consummate the marriage. The next night… she had a headache… The following night… she had cramps… The night after that… she was exhausted. After a few weeks of not being able to make love to his wife.. the man puts his foot down. “This is NOT what I signed up for! Before we were married… we were having fun, we were making love, and we had high hopes for our future. Now suddenly it seems you don’t want any of that? What gives?”

      And… if I were that man… I would start the process of annulment immediately because this woman obviously deceived me. She had a “GET a man mode” in which she was highly sexual… and then she had a “GOT a man mode, now lets do something else…..”

      Now… in your situation, again I don’t know the whole story. It seems your man was one type of person BEFORE you got married (or else you wouldn’t have married him would you??) and now he’s a totally different person after marriage. Unless you were thinking that getting married was going to change him… he has deceived you in a big way. If that is true… then you need to give him the “I didn’t sign up for this” speech and begin to move away from him. I am going to tell you right now that nothing is going to be strong enough to make him see the light than the possibility of losing you. If he thinks he’s entitled to whatever he wants in your marriage without the effort and hard work… he’s wrong.

      Hope this helps…
      David

      Reply
  • Stephanie August 23, 2011, 6:50 am

    The whole time we’ve been together he was always wanting to go out and have fun (me included) and we always did. Dinner, movies, shooting.. Jusy whatever. We both have super busy schedules, he works 24hr shifts and I balance both school and work, leaving me about 1 night free a week. Well since I only have one night free I’d like to take that night and cook and have dinner with him but he wot stay home. He’s always wanting to go somewhere, these times without me, and says he just “needs time away with his friends” I’m so lost.. He doesn’t even want to be romantic with me anymore.. Trust me I’ve tried. He’s “too tired” and then the times that we do go and do something together I hear about it the next day that he “didn’t really wanna go to dinner last night he wanted to go shoot with his buddies” idk. Seems weird. Makes me feel like something is going on.

    Reply
    • David Justin Bibby August 23, 2011, 8:35 am

      Don’t let your mind “go there” in terms of something else going on. Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t… but thinking the worst and dwelling on it is just going to cause feeling of unrest and anxiety within you.

      One thing is for sure however… and that is he is NOT meeting your needs. He’s not meeting your needs to affection, conversation, intimacy, etc. He’s not making you feel special and important. He’s not making you feel safe and secure in your relationship, and I can only imagine what his spending habits are like being out all the time.

      My suggestion to you is to be very DIRECT with him. Saying “I just want to spend time with you.” is too vague for him to fulling graps… and he’s very likely to say “We’re spending time now aren’t we??” Instead.. be DIRECT with him with what you want. “I want you to take me out on Tuesday night to____.” or “I want to have dinner at home tonight and then do _______.”

      When you say things like this… you are CLEAR with what you want… he can’t interpret this in an different way. So if he has no good reason to say no to what you want here… then he should accept this.

      Obviously this doesn’t mean order him around like you’re his boss… or that you should ask for the unreasonable… but what you want to normal, reasonable, and fair in your relationship. If he can’t give you what’s normal, reasonable, and fair in your relationship, then he has no one but himself to blame when you leave him.

      Now… one more thing. Many women, my wife included, will go YEARS and YEARS trying to live in an unhappy situation and endure hardship trying to get their man to change. The get frustrated at him and then when they have a breakdown… THEN he’ll take them out for a week or two, but men go back to old habits after things calm down again. The cycle repeats… and then after the children come, and more years of unhappiness… the unhappy wife finally musters up the courage and take steps to leave her man. Some husbands STILL don’t understand the seriousness of the situation until they are served papers, or their wife moves unto a separate bedroom or separate house altogether. Some of these husbands are astute enough to realize that they need to change themselves and learn how to meet their wife’s needs and become attractive men… others are still too dense to get it.

      Stephanie,

      If you get anything out of this reply… it’s don’t go 10-15 years more in this situation hoping he’ll come around. You have to take some form of action. If that means practicing being direct with your man… that’s a start. If it means buying/reading Alisa’s book and implementing her recommendations… that’s a start. We’re all here for you!

      Reply
      • David Justin Bibby August 23, 2011, 8:37 am

        Sorry for all the typo’s in my last reply.

      • Stephanie August 23, 2011, 2:59 pm

        Thank you. I’ve prayed and done all i feel I can. I sought help for the issues of me feeling like it’s “me” when instead it very well may not be me. It may be something with him. I’ve told him that I’m working on me and that’s all I can do. He doesn’t want to try is what he says, he’s over it. Yet he will not leave me alone. Why continue to make yourself mad if talking about it makes you mad? And he hasn’t gone to file anything. Should I just keep quiet at the house or should I go stay with family for a few days and wait on him? I think he might just be very torn and have mixed emotions and it’s all up in his face and he’s saying things he doesn’t mean or else he would have taken action by now.

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