6 Signs You Are Stuck in a Bad Marriage

by Alisa on September 18, 2011

AKA

This Post Isn’t About What You Think

Help! I'm stuck in a beautiful pasture and I can't get out!

I took the picture that accompanies this post earlier this summer while I was on vacation in the mountains of Colorado. This cow (or possible bull? I really don’t know) is stuck. Her pasture is surrounded by electric fencing. Her future is certain. Eventually some of her will end up on someone’s dinner plate and the rest of her will end up in some dog’s bowl.

There’s nothing she can do about this. She could try to escape. But really, why bother? Cows can’t jump, and they can’t run very fast either.

You, on the other hand, are not like the cow in this photo. You are not being forced to stay in your current situation. Your future is not certain. Anything could happen because you have choices. You could stay in your marriage. You could leave it. Or you could attempt to change the system from within.

You are reading this blog because you are attempting to change the system from within.

Still, despite all of this, you probably still feel stuck and you might even feel a bit angry at me for telling you that you have choices. That’s understandable. All I can give you are two words. They are “been” and “there.” I once felt just as stuck, too.

I eventually learned, however, I was staying stuck in a bad marriage because I was resisting change. I was, as Albert Einstein once said, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein also said that we can’t “solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It was only after I changed my thinking that I was able to change my marriage.

What follows are the types of thinking I had to change.

  1. You only notice what your spouse does wrong. I still do this occasionally. For instance, this Saturday, my husband did something and I thought, “Typical” quickly followed by “figures. He WOULD do that. He ALWAYS does this.” I had to stop myself and remind myself of all of the many things he does right—and that his behavior that morning actually wasn’t typical, not anymore anyway.
  2. You refuse to change your communication tactics. If you are a yeller, then you just keep yelling. If you are a sulker, then you keep doing that. If you are a silent-treatment-doller-outer, then that’s what you do. You keep communicating in this way even though it’s not working for you.
  3. You want to be understood, but you don’t try to understand. You want to be loved, but you don’t love. You want to be heard, but you don’t listen. I could go on. Life is a paradox. Many times what we most want is the very thing we often refuse to give. Give and you shall receive.
  4. It’s all about your issues and not your spouse’s issues. You want your spouse to take you seriously when you ask her to help you keep the house clean and orderly, but you don’t take her seriously when she says she wants more passion in the bedroom. To her, this issue is just as important as your issue. Until you see that, you will be stuck.
  5. You refuse to go out of your comfort zone. You might say, “I don’t do affection” or “I’m just not into giving compliments” or something else. But these are all skills, skills you can learn and become comfortable with. When you tell your partner, “I just don’t do _______,” what you are really saying is “You are not important enough for me to stretch out of my comfort zone.” That stings.
  6. You expect more than your spouse is capable of giving. The flipside of #5 is that some people really are only capable of so much change in a given amount of time. Sometimes acceptance is in order. Learn how to deal with the issues that matter most and to let the small stuff go.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • The August Reader of the Month is donating her free pass to an Orlando theme park because she lives overseas and can’t use it. I will pick one commenter on this post randomly for that prize. When you comment, please mention whether you want to go to Orlando.
  • I have a new co-authored book coming out in a few weeks. I wrote it with a retired FBI Profiler. Dangerous Instincts is an important book, one that I think everyone needs. Therefore you should absolutely preorder it of you know what’s good for you. I’ll be telling you more about this book closer to its release date.
  • You can listen to my interview on Woman Talk Live here.
  • You have until September 24 to win a free copy of the No Fight Divorce Book.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachee September 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I’m not married anymore but in a steady relationship. I truly, truly, truly try to follow these tips. Its a matter of being a respectful spouse and giving the behavior, energy, feelings that you want to receive.
And if I can use those tickets at anytime, sure. Throw my hat into the ring.
-r

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Shani September 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm

So true! I wish my husband would read this. He’s given up on our marriage and refuses to try to change. Even though I think we need to try to work on our marriage (we have 3 kids), he is going full steam ahead with a divorce. It’s very sad. And yes, I would love the pass for Orlando.

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage September 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Shani,

I’m sorry to hear that. What is it about your husband’s behavior that he will not change? I’m only curious because usually the person seeking divorce is the one who “wants” change and the other person is being stubborn and inflexible. I’m not at all placing any blame on anyone. It sounds like you want to work things out and he has already moved on… does he not have any “feelings” left for you?

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pooja January 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

i only believe that many husbands are just basterds. they marry just for society and their lust, without knowing the value of wife and kids in their life.
They marry because they need somebody to screw. But on surface they just want to stay like a young boy who is ambitious for himself and wishes to live free.
i am struggling in my marriage for last thirteen year.. and now i am a mother of two daughters..all these long years.. i kept hoping for the change… but he changed from bad to worse and then worse to worst…now i really don’t know what to do.My life is ruined.

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MPK January 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm

pooja, I am sure there are some husbands who are not very considerate. I won’t go where you went with the name calling. But please understand that many young men get trained by their circumstances and companions at a young age to expect sex and that is all from their wife. I even see it happening in church amongst the youth when I look at the young girls in church they are dressed in things that prostitutes wear. But it is supposedly okay because they are in church after all….you see what I mean? It’s not just the guys. And young women make such poor decisions about who they spend their time with. I don’t mean to berate you because you have enough trouble of your own, but maybe you ought to reflect on you own decisions instead of castigating your husband. We all have our faults but you can change your husband with your behavior.

Ashi February 12, 2013 at 11:27 am

I agree with Pooja to an extent! Most men do marry for the sake of society as this is what’s expected of them!!
I’ve been married for 10 years and have two beautiful boys aged 8 & 5. At first our relationship was fantastic but that only lasted a very short time, 6 months into the marriage he started placing ridiculous demands in changing what I wear, how short my hair should be to how I should behave to suit his socially etiquette lifestyle!!!
His controlling behaviour has now reached to the point where I am not allowed to have any female friends or assert any independence.
It’s very sad to see what started out to be such a lovely relationship turn into a daily chore in making my spouse happy at all cost with total disregard of my happiness!!
I feel I really have bought about a different meaning to ‘being stuck’ in my marriage!

Shelly September 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I’ve recently broken up with a man I’ve been living with for over two years. The talk in my head almost killed me till I finally gave up and asked him to leave. Now, I miss him. But I remember the anguish of the past two months and that keeps my romantic delusions at bay. I just did a screen shot of this post and I’m going to make it my wall paper for a while. We were both guilty of #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and just for good measure, #6. WELL SAID.

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Katrina September 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I think I struggle the most with #6. I tend to be pretty adaptable so change is easier for me. My partner, however, is less so. He wants to please an tries hard to be better, but it’s more difficult for him an I have trouble being patient. Any tips on learning to be more accepting and even supportive during a slow change?
Katrina @veribatim
P.S. Orlando = yes please

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Becca September 19, 2011 at 11:06 am

I completely agree w/you Katrina. Patience is hard for me, especially when my spouse is unwilling to read things like this and I feel like I’m the one always complaining and he’s always the one saying he’s happy and he doesn’t understand why I’m not. I have gotten better at #1 and #2, but when I read #4 & 5, I was like, yep, that’s really him. I’ve been going to therapy by myself for about 2 years, he won’t go, and it is really hard feeling like the only one who tries to make it better. I guess I just have to keep being the change I wish to see in our marriage…. Any other advice would be helpful.
PS – I’m good on Orlando for now. Good luck to everyone else.

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage September 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Ladies…

What kinds of changes are you trying to see in your men? Maybe there is a more direct way to get what you want.

For example.. telling your man that you want him to “be more romantic” is so vague and undefinable that that could literally mean anything to him. If you were thinking that he was going to bring you flowers and/or take you to dinner… it’s probably NOT going to happen like that.

Instead.. be very direct… in a non-nagging way… and say “I want you to plan a date for us THIS SATURDAY night that includes eating out AND a walk. I want you to make this happen in a way that works for you too.”

Then.. if somehow he “forgets” to make this date happen.. You call up one of your girlfriends and you spend your time eating and taking a walk with your friend. You don’t get mad.. you simply say “I’m going to have some girl time. You can try again next Saturday.”

Be open, honest, and direct.

Hope this helps..
David

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Flynn September 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm

As always, this is another great post. I pass on the passes this time around, but I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your devotion and dedication to helping the rest of us through our personal struggles and tough times.

With Regards,
Flynn

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Robert Keteyian September 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

This is so helpful and encouraging, and it reminds me of William Glasser’s question(s) to couples: What does the marriage need? And what one thing can you do right now that you believe will make a positive contribution to the marriage? (paraphrase)

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Marissa September 18, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Those are 6 great points. The flip to that is that both partners need to be actively attempting to remedy these issues. One person can only do so much, especially if the other has given up.

I would love to go to Orlando. Btw

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Ellen d September 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Great ideas about habits I need to develop. Would love the theme park tickets — will be in Orlando October 4 for vacation with husband and 4 kids!

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Mrs. Levine September 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I love that picture. It’s so perfect with this post! Made me laugh.

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Mrs. Levine September 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm

P.S. Going to pass on the theme park tickets. Good luck to the other commenters!

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Eileen September 19, 2011 at 8:10 am

Yep, my husband tells me quite often that I stretch for everyone else. The kids and work receive more energy than I think I have. However, by the time I’m alone with him, I’m too tired and no energy to spare. I have to learn to dig down for the extra for him…

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage September 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Eileen,

This is very common among most marriages. How well does your husband help you around the house and with the kids? And how old are your kids?

I assume when you say you have no energy to spare for him… you mean sexually. Now what I’m about to say might not be something you’ve ever heard before:

“Here’s what I’ve got to ask you…when you give your husband sex, what are you giving yourself?

This is the mistake that way too many women make…they do so many things for someone else…and they thereby DRAIN all the joy OUT of what would otherwise be a wonderful experience or event. By doing things for someone else, they transform it into something to feel resentful, bitter, and unappreciated about.

But, when a woman does something FOR HER SELF…AND to be a blessing to others…THEN, she can CAPTURE all the joy, pleasure, and satisfaction out of the experience or event that’s there just for her to get and enjoy. In this model, it doesn’t matter what other people (your husband) does or does not do because you’re doing the right things for YOU.

So, in the realm of sex, a woman should NOT “give her husband sex”. Instead, she should give HERSELF sex with her husband…she should enjoy sex for HERSELF while sharing in the experience WITH her husband.”

Eileen, you deserve to relax and enjoy life, your husband, and your children. MAKE time for yourself AND your husband at least twice a week. Don’t be surprised to find your husband giving you more of what you want.

As a side note… if your husband isn’t turning you on anymore… send him my way so I can straighten him up :)

Hope this helps…
David

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StephanieB September 19, 2011 at 8:51 am

I think that the two ones on your list that I struggle with are #1 and #5. I have developed pretty healthy thought patterns in my marriage, but every once in a while I am tempted to feel like I am doing everything myself and not notice the help my husband gives. Thankfully, I have gotten pretty good at catching it right away and switching my thoughts to being thankful instead!

For me going out of my comfort zone has to do with love language stuff. I have to purposefully stop what I am doing and spend some quality time with my spouse when he gets home. I would naturally keep doing my stuff, but it means a lot to him to have that attention and time.

BTW, I am looking forward to the Dangerous Instincts book! My husband just started his master’s degree in Criminal Justice, so this topic is of great interest to him (and me by proxy).
Thanks

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Susan September 19, 2011 at 9:31 am

I think so many relationship issues involve #3. At least, that’s what I’ve read from marital counselors and it seems very true.

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Drummer Guy September 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Great Post Alisa,

Quite a few of these caused our downfall. It would be easy for me to blame it all on her but I have to accept my responsibility as well. Sadly she will not accept any at all. Even violating my absolute deal breakers. To this day I have never heard an I’m sorry because she truly isn’t.

I had commented here many times about people who say things such as “I love him/her but am not IN LOVE with him/her”. About how so many equate that early phase we all go through with being “in love”. Once that fades they just assume they have falling out of love. I NEVER in my wildest dreams thought I had married such a woman who does just that. But sadly I did & heard those very words.

That wasn’t what the deal breakers were that just came out latter. I would have to write a novel to explain everything that happened. Also despite everything I wont air her dirty laundry. I am even still taking care of all her medicals & errands. Several have called me a sucker & a sap for doing so. But I consider myself a man of character & can’t abandon somebody I once loved so deeply when they need me. BUT I can do that as a friend & don’t have to be a husband to do all of that.

I am rambling and making no sense I am sure. Hey nothing new for me there….lol But I am actually in a much better place than I was just a couple of weeks ago. I have strength I didn’t know I had. So life will go on even better than before. I feel relieved in many ways. I can also now have a life I couldn’t have for years. Oh I also had a date…lol Yea she knows & it was her idea. Tells you where her heart was though. Okay enough rambling.

YOU ROCK Alisa
Ron :-)

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage September 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm

#5 is an issue that many men suffer from. They have a very strong habit of saying “That’s just the way I am…” as if they can never learn anything new. The might say “You know I love you… I told you that on our wedding day!… why do insist on me saying it day after day!”

Or they shrug their shoulders and say “That’s how I was raised!”

Unfortunately… most men do not change unless they have a really good reason to change (I.E. their wife sleeping in another bedroom, or having an affair, or filing for divorce)

Ladies… the same thing happens on the other side when a man wants affection and intimacy with his wife… with the lights on… or in a different position… or he wants you to wear something sexy. When some men ask for this, they run smack into a brink wall. Inhibited… is the word I’m looking for.

Stepping out of your comfort zone (for both men and women) is how you two can GROW in an adult relationship. Men.. learn to lead the family so that everyone’s interests, wishes, and agendas get completed. Ladies… learn to access that intimate part of yourself who desires to share it with her husband.

If you are not growing towards each other… then you WILL be growing apart.

Hope this helps…
David

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Disaster Marriage September 21, 2011 at 8:33 am

Hello
This is my first post…on any blog. I have seen and heard these tips before. There is no shortage of hoping and trying and wishing things would be better in our marrriage. A quick rundown of our history:
*engaged after 3 mos, married after 6
*closed on a house (fixer upper at that) and got pregnant within 1 month of marriage
*lived in a very tumultuous way for a couple years (couples counseling, of course)
*Separated in 2009 for 8 months (he had a gf for 5 of those months…clearly I am still bitter over that one; I bought a new house and he stayed in our 1st one; I dated someone for 3 weeks; then……..)
*Got back together, he moved into new house, had another baby
and did I mention fighting, fighting, fighting all along these 6 years

So now we have certainly grown apart, in fact I wonder if we had ever truly been together…

We are seeing a new counselor now (she teaches similar skills to your list) but very little has changed. I dont want to give up,, I truly do love him. Are some people just doomed even if they both want to be better? I need help to see that our marriage is something that we can both be happy in. And if not I wish I could see it sooner than later.

Sorry if this post really went no where… just needed to vent

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Eileen September 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Hi Disaster,
I am truly sorry for what you are going through. And it sounds like you’ve tried it all. But why don’t you just stop fighting. I know it sounds childish, like a 5 year old giving you advice. But think about it, just stop. Refuse to fight with him. Change the subject, tell him what you’re doing – it doesn’t matter. If you love him, then your life with him will be too short to live that way. I know it’s easy to say, but I’ve been there and I’ve done that. Just say ok, refuse to argue, yes even keep it inside sometimes. You would do it for a stranger, why not try it on him? I hope whatever you decide to do to save your marriage it works because when it’s good, there is nothing better.
Take care

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage September 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

Disaster Marriage,

My heart goes out to you. Your man has not yet learned how to meet a woman’s needs, and it shows in your words. Men are typically only taught one of two things growing up on how to relate to a woman. You have the ones that were taught to “Always be nice” …. and you have the ones that were taught “Women are objects to control”

Now.. I don’t know what kind of man you have because I don’t know who starts the fighting. If you have one of those “nice guys” you could find yourself being BORED at home, doing everything for him and for your children, and getting very little appreciation in return. Maybe he’s “safe” to be around because he brings an income and/or provides at a reasonable level… but you’re upset with him constantly because he DOESN’T meet your needs! Instead he is only interested in his hobbies and what he can get from you.

On the other hand… if you have the other type of man… you’re bending over backwards to make things perfect for him, because he’ll blow up in a fit of rage if something is out of alignment. You don’t feel “safe” around him, because you’re always worried he’s going to find fault in you somewhere.

Based on the fact that you’ve both been to counseling together… I would sense that you have the first type of man… the “nice guy” type that you can’t stand because he’s weak, repulsive, needy, and all the arguing in the world won’t get him to change… just like beating a dead horse.

So for you… I definitely would get yourself a copy of Alisa’s book. It will teach you how to handle such a man and create change in yourself AND in him. Outside of that, your man needs a mentor, a marriage coach (A MAN) who can show him how to meet a woman’s needs.

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MPK September 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

My wife took me to our bank last week to deal with some banking stuff. So I started working with the young lady there setting up new PC access. My wife had no clue what we were talking about – as I learned 3 hours later. I also learned that she was insanely jealous of the seeming rapport I had with the young lady there at the bank talking about user names, passwords, and other PC account access stuff. A day later she tells me she’s just not the cute little thing like she knows I want. But that’s just how it is. It really seems to me she has given up on herself. She DOES need to lose some weight…about 40 pounds or so….to be really healthy and feel good about herself. But she is stuck in this mindset that it is just not possible. She doesn’t work outside the home, but volunteers at the kids’ school, which is a high school. It really seems to me like she could spend an hour or so every day working on her fitness. Is that a ridiculous idea? I want a wife that is fit and trim but more importantly one that isn’t depressed about her self-image. I am really tired of trying to respond to her worn out excuses.

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MPK September 21, 2011 at 11:25 am

Let me edit my post, as reading it after the fact there is a mistake:

I should have put my wife’s words in quotes, like this:

A day later she tells me “she’s just not the cute little thing like she knows I want. But that’s just how it is.”

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage September 22, 2011 at 10:03 am

MPK,

A wife with low self esteem is a challenge no doubt about it. One of the things you can do is NOT give her compliments unless she does something to merit one.

For example: Saying her hair looks nice…when she hasn’t done anything different… is not going to inspire her much… If anything… she’ll know it’s a empty compliment and she can easily disqualify herself but saying “You’re Blind”.

Instead.. if she does to something to merit a compliment from you… don’t just state a fact as in “You look nice today”… instead… tell her what you like and be specific and tie it to a feeling… “I LIKE how that dress fits you and how it compliments your hair and makeup. When I see you like this I FEEL the way I did when we were dating….”

So it’s not her excuses you have to worry about… it’s giving her better compliments that she CANNOT disqualify herself with.

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MPK September 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

Thanks much David. I need to work on the compliments in general. I am an engineer so I deal almost completely with verifiable facts, not feelings. So having a happy relationship with my wife is a great challenge to me. It’s like I need to speak an entirely different language to her, but it is one in which I am not fluent at all. Sometimes I feel like I might as well be trying to speak Swahili or Arabic (neither of which I know anything about) to her.

QEM September 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm

My husband and I have been dealing with these issues for some time now, and it seems we are stuck in a rut. No one wants to give at all. With 4 children and 13 years on the line, my marriage is very important, but it feels like something is missing. I have brought up counseling, but he refuses. Which makes me feel like this relationship isn’t important enough for him to try.

I would love to visit Orlando

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Becca September 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

I know what you mean about counseling. I’ve been going alone to counseling for our marriage for almost two full years, and we’ve only been married just over three. It is hard to balance not feeling important to him, but I’ve decided to be the change I want to see in the marriage and be committed to that. My therapist has always said to give 100% and expect 0% back, which is hard, but it’s the way to go about it. Pick your battles, give the love you want to receive without expectation, and work on your own issues instead of pointing the finger at your spouse. I know that my marriage has and will continue to have it’s fair share of ups and downs, but I will stick with it and focus on the ups. I know it sounds cheesy, but think positive and make yourself happy first.

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Alisa September 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Hi everyone– Marissa is the lucky winner of the free pass. I’ll be giving away another one at the end of this week to the Sept reader of the month. To be in the running, all you have to do is comment a lot so you name gets into the “people who comment the most” widget to the right.

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oscar January 27, 2012 at 7:15 am

Hi Alisa
I am stuck in a marriage that is getting from bad to worse..
me and my wife shout, yell , hurl abuses at each other and I have come to a stage that I really feel that I should let her free, my piece of mind is totally trashed.
The 6 rules above seem like a mountain to climb.
I am lost and i dont think i will be ever able to find my way again…
truly
oscar

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage January 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

Oscar,

I can positively tell you that you are not alone in this. Marriage is about two IMPERFECT people giving freely to one another, but then selfishness, entitlement, and other non attractive behaviors begin to grow within one or both individuals.

You have to CREATE the kind of marriage you want. It’s not going to happen all by itself. It’s needs someone to begin the process of turning a bad marriage around into a new direction.

Oscar, this means YOU.

Why does it have to be you?

Because you are a man. I’m not being sexist or chauvinistic here.. the fact is that if you are not the one leading the marriage to that fulfilling, happy, affectionate, sexual place, then it is NOT going to happen. A woman is NOT attracted to, affectionate with, or sexual with a man she has to tell what to do!

Back in 2008 I was where you are sitting now. I had a wife that hated my guts! She built up years worth of resentment and unloaded it all on me. The following 3 months were HELL on earth. But then I started climbing mountains, learning the laws of attraction, I got a marriage mentor, and through reading, practice, and defining what my values are…I eventually turned my marriage around. I CHANGED myself first… and then I LED my wife to change the way she treated me.

Now it’s 2012 and I could not be happier. Love, Respect, Affection, and Intimacy are in our lives in abundance. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to take responsibility for your life. You must lead your wife and yourself to the happiness that you both want.

Hope this helps..
David

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sentinus December 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I don’t know how old this thread is but I’m hoping people still read & respond.
I have a great husband. He is smart, intelligent, an amazing father, good provider, great help around the house. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? Just one thing. He has no clue how to treat a woman. Ffor years I begged him fir a little bit of attention and affection, he didn’t seem to get it. Now that I have no romantic feelings left for him, and actually want a separation, he wants to try. Even when he is ‘trying’, there is still no passion. He tells me it is difficult for him to be affectionate when I don’t show him any form of love or kindness, but even when I did love him there were things missing and now with that stuck in my head I cannot simply even begin to think being back in live with him. I don’t think it is even possible. It makes me feel awful,but I do want to take a break for a ehile to cleanse my soul. That is one thing he is not willing to do for me though.

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage December 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

Sentinus,

Your husband sounds a lot like me. Before I “woke up” I was by all accounts a “Good Man, Good Father, Great Provider, etc.”. I didn’t drink or smoke, didn’t get angry and yell, didn’t sit around watching football games. Basically I was the “prefect guy” and everyone let my wife know it too..

BUT…

I didn’t give her enough attention. I didn’t make her feel special to me. I didn’t cherish our relationship. I spent most of the time on the computer or working on my hobbies, that I didn’t notice that her love for me was dying every day.

What finally “woke me up”, was that my wife started sleeping in the spare room. At first I brushed it off as her being nutty.. but after a week I knew it was serious. She remained there for THREE solid months. She cut me off from all affection and intimacy and basically told me that our marriage was over but she’d stay for the kids sake. I sought help and learned how to meet her needs in a Genuine, Honest way as opposed to being kind and affectionate for a brief time until I got what I wanted.

Sentinus,
You have needs that are not being met. You have needs for attention, affection, approval, you need to feel special, you need to feel important, you need to feel like you are a priority in his life, you need to be romanced, you need to be seduced, you need non-sexual touch, hugs, and kisses (the kind that says you mean something to him without immediately heading to sex). You need all these things.

The problem is that no one ever taught your husband how to do this. You’d think it would come naturally to men but it doesn’t. You can’t teach him or change him anymore that you can move a brick wall. All you can do is give him a big reason TO change. The only reason that I’ve found that can make a man seek help is to come face to face with the realization that he is LOSING YOU forever. Maybe you’ve tried this before… and maybe he romanced you for a week after… but then as soon as you became intimate again… he went right back to his old ways.

So as a man, I’m here to tell you to “stick to your guns”. Sleep in a separate bed, initiate a separation, whatever you are giving to him, stop. He has taken you for granted for years. So it’s time to stop doing his laundry, making meals for him, etc. He needs to know that you are serious about leaving him if he cannot meet your needs.

I don’t know if he can change… I only know that I was once like him and I DID change. I’m proud of my wife for putting me through three months of hell, so that I can learn what I learned. Because now I’m happy and she’s happy too. Our level of passion has grown so much more in the time since.. than all the 13 years of marriage prior. If she hadn’t have done that… we could still be stuck in a rut with my wife resenting me more and more every day.

Tell your husband plainly and directly “You are not meeting my needs. What you call trying is nowhere close to what I need from you. You need to learn what makes a man attractive to a woman, because right now, I AM NOT ATTRACTED TO YOU. This has nothing to do with physical appearance… but your mode of operation, your attitudes and behaviors towards me are repulsive. There are so many things you do that TURN ME OFF and push me away. I realized that I can’t change you… only you can do that. But I’m not going to wait around forever while you figure it out.”

After hearing something like this… your husband will get to work on trying to fix things. He’ll soon realize that the thing he needs to fix is HIMSELF. It may be too late… or it may be just in time to save your marriage.

If you have any questions… please ask.

David

oscar January 28, 2012 at 4:48 am

Thanks David
reading through your reply has given me a ray of hope, at least I know where to start from, now. This mountain I have to climb, to save what we got.

respect
oscar

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beaker February 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I am so confused by all this, maybe because my situation is at the extreme, but all these tips seem to be about giving my partner a break in a way. But, I feel I’ve given him chance to change and I’ve tried to be understanding and give him time and yet I’m still not getting what I want. And by want, all I mean is to live with him and not have him cause anymore financial damage.

I married my husband in Dec 2010. I’ve still not seen him since the wedding. I’d gotten a job in the States, travelled back to the UK at Christmas to get married as he’d proposed to me just before I left for the States. After the wedding I came back to work and the plan was I would set up a home for us and buy everything we needed while he sort out his passport and visa. I’ve done my end and I’m still waiting, he has the paperwork from my end, all he has to do is book an interview at the embassy and book a flight… It took him over 6 months to get his passport because he dragged his feet. It was always a case of “i’ll do it next week”.

And, while I am understanding that it is difficult to relocate, I’m finding it difficult to continue to be understanding because I’m not getting the affection I need to maintain a long distance relationship. While I’ve been here I am yet to receive birthday, anniversary, christmas or valentine’s cards from him. He says he always intends to do lovely things, but he never plans ahead so nothing will reach me on time and then because he knows it’s going to be late he ends up not bothering. I’ve tried to show him how it’s done and try and keep him happy, I’ve sent cards, presents etc. All I’ve seen him do for the last year is drink away his savings and give excuses why he’s not come over here yet, not even for a visit. Now he tells me he’s scared about flying, before it was because he wanted to make sure he had enough savings… He’s even emptied my own bank account on a number of occassions. I’ve tried to be understanding and supportive. But, I think I’m stuck in a bad marriage for real and I don’t think your tips will help me out.

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MPK February 16, 2012 at 2:57 pm

And I forgot to add, DO NOT SEND HIM ANY MONEY OR GIVE HIM ANY ACCESS TO YOUR ACCOUNTS! Change all of your banking and other financial accounts immediately! DO NOT LET HIM KNOW HOW TO GET ACCESS!

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MPK February 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Dear beaker,

As a guy I can see that your husband has no intention of joining you. You are being used. Get out of that marriage as soon as you can!

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Suezie February 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I met my husband through a mutual friend. We were very attracted to each other. We dated for 9 months before he asked me to marry him. We got married 6 months later and had my daughter. That was 3 years ago. We fought every other day when we were dating over his ex-girlfriend, my then cat, my life choices, my habit. Over time, we fought every week, then every two weeks and then maybe once a month. It is very painful every time we fight. But we fought less. What has happened since was, my cat died, i no longer resent his ex girlfriend, I once helped her trim her front yard and we had had dinners together, she has stuff taking up precious space in my house, he continues to help her with things, she sends her parcels to my house. My life choices is whatever he chooses, whatever he is ok with. My habit is well, let’s just say I don’t brush my teeth the same way I brush my teeth.

Am I happy in my marriage? Sometimes. I feel like I have lost myself being with him. I enjoy time away from him because it allows me to breath. So I’m not complaining even though I work full time. I still have some of my own habits, I do it secretly. Freedom is available to me when he is not around.

Having said these, I must point out that my husband is a very nice man. He helps with the dishes, he cleans the house with me, he loves me and he supports my decision provided it is his decision as well. He also did change for me, he bought me flowers after we’ve been together for 4 years. He thinks flowers are a waste of money, I don’t disagree but it is nice to receive flowers.

But considering I’m googling for “stuck in a marriage”, I do feel like that. I must also mention that I am a little bit of a control freak and I feel that although I change for him, I’m still better off because he is stuck with a perfectionist. I feel that we are both stuck in a marriage, stuck with each other. We do not share the same hobbies, passions, taste for music or movies, sports. We are like totally different people who leads different live. But if I know anything about us, we are probably going to stuck in this marriage for the rest of our lives for the one common thing we have is that we do not want our kids to grow up in a broken family.

What I want to know is are there ways to cope with being stuck in a marriage, are there ways to still be truly happy. I may be the cow but until the day I end up in someone’s dinner plate, I would like to live a very happy and peaceful life.

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MPK February 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

Dear Suezie,
It is good that your husband is such a nice guy. Perhaps he is too nice though. There are times to say “no”. How would he respond if you were continuing to help an exboyfriend? If it bothers you that he continues to help his ex-girlfriend, you should let him know that and he should put some more distance in that old relationship, like ending it. His ex-gf needs to find another guy. There are plenty of them out there for her. That is not unreasonable, in this guy’s opinion. I can share the following story about myself. When I was dating my wife, one of the (very attractive) ladies at work asked me “out of the blue” (because we seldom spoke), if I could come to her house and attach the power cord to her new clothes dryer for her. I thought about it briefly and, valuing my relationship with my girlfriend, answered, “I’d better not.”. That was the last time that lady ever spoke to me, and a few months later she married some guy from California and moved out there. If I had gone to her house to help her like that, it would have definitely ended my relationship with my to-be wife. And I already knew there was no future for me with that lady, unless I didn’t care to have any kids as she was already slightly beyond her child-bearing years, although from a strictly male perspective it was fun to contemplate the possibilities with her. Sometimes people have to make the choice to leave the niceness to someone else in order to preserve their valued relationships.

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Suezie February 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Thank you MPK. You are right, my husband is such a nice guy that that’s what I think about all the time, he is such a nice guy, it’s not right for me to be a selfish bitch. Of course I know that if my husband still contacts his ex there is a chance that something might blossoms out of it but I wasn’t too worried because she is not in the country but she is coming back this year so I might actually have to figure out a way to convey my message without sounding like a control freak.

But that is not the reason I feel stuck in my marriage. it is the on and off feelings for each other. Some time i feel I can’t stand him and he feels the same and it is not a nice atmosphere. Most of the time the whole awkwardness just terminated by one of us going to sleep leaving the other to breath.

I am going away for a month with my daughter and I think it will be good for us. Distance should make the heart grows fonder.

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Eileen February 23, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Like everyone else here, I feel stuck. After 14 years of living together, we got married. It’s been almost 3 years since our wedding & I regret everyday of it. We haven’t had sex in about 10 years (yep, that’s right…he has “trouble”). Most recently, I Z a surprise party for his birthday, flew his uncle up from FL for the party, even booked a cruise as a gift. A month later-for my birthday, he did nothing. Not even a card. Barely a “happy birthday.” I tried not to make an issue about it, but it hurt. When I did finally say something, all he said was that he didn’t want anything for his birthday, that anything I did, I did for myself-not him. We fight all the time. No matter what I say, he takes it the wrong way & jumps down my throat. He’s never been physically abusive though, I’ll give him that credit. Sometimes I think that the only reason I stay is because I have no place to go. I moved away from my family to be with him. We’re absolutely financially dependent on one another. Our assets are jointly owned. Divorce now would be messy, complicated & expensive. Sometimes I think at this point, I may as well wait it out. He’s 50, has heart disease that he refuses to diet or exercise or cut back on drinking. At this rate, I may be widowed soon enough anyway. I should mention, we don’t have children together. He had a son from his first marriage & didn’t want anymore. I don’t have any children of my own. I’ve made my peace with that-at least I think I have…

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Eileen February 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I forgot to mention that he’s remained completely faithful; as have I. His “trouble” is related to his heart disease & new diabetes diagnosis.

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Suezie February 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Hi Eileen,

I have not been married for long and may not have any good advice to give but I too do a lot for my husband. I too feel that when my birthday comes, I do not get this big party throw for me, in fact if i want a party, I had to organize it, if I want a cake, I had to ask for it. What is the point right?

Anyway, I think the point is not about having a party thrown for me/you, but to feel that our man would make an effort for us. Some man sends flower, some man wash the dishes. When I read the book 5 love languages, it is quite clear that we all show our love and wants to receive love a little differently. See if you can get a copy of that book. Maybe he loves you in a different language.

As for fighting all the time, I guess, it takes two to fight. Sometimes when we bottle up disappointment and resentment and then voice it out later, it makes it worse. This works for me and you can try, scream out your dissatisfaction when he is not around, get it out, he doesn’t need to hear it, throw a tantrum, don’t make too much mess because you have to pack up later, so pillows are useful. And let it go, let everything that bothers you go. Then go indulge in something you like. You don’t need to tell him anything but when you feel good, you are no longer upset with him and you have avoided the fight.

Don’t give up. Divorce is not always the answer.

Janice August 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Those who are in pain and reading this ‘what could I have done’ are feeling so confused, angry,impatient and lonely. I have tried for 40 years and keep wanting to leave. My husband promises changes & it lasts a couple of days & then back to where we were. He is a loner & puts me down. I know he is hurting too, but being wounded yourself is a difficult place to be when you want to help him. We act out that all is well in front of other people, sure this is common?

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Jillian Jacklin September 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm

It is hard for me to admit mistakes, especially when I felt pushed into making them in the first place. I’ve been married for almost five years, and the fights never change, only become complexed and over saturated. My husband and I actually had a horrible fight about an hour ago, I’m almost ready to leave him. When searching for an answer to my question: ‘how do you know if your in a bad marriage?’ Interestingly this is the first sight that caught my attention. All the points that points seem to be vaild, people should work on their marriage; but when is the decision to break it off the best choice?

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Olivia September 12, 2012 at 1:48 am

It was so much easier in the old days when divorce is frowned upon, at least that way we have no other choice but to make it work. Nowadays, we have to decide if we want to stop working on it. I ponder about this question myself too, sometimes it is great, sometimes it is not so great, in fact horrible enough to make one wants to run off and never come back. A friend who was divorced told me that couple counselling can help me decide because I would know that I have given it my best shot and I would never regret it. I thought about that for a long time and decided not to go for couple counselling because I didn’t want to know for sure that it was not going to work, I want it to work and I want to believe it will work and that’s when I realize I have already made my decision, i don’t want to break it off, I want to make it work. Now, nobody knows if it was the best decision but it is a decision. I am not saying that everything is great now but I’m taking it one day at a time. I like to think that i may be stuck in a bad marriage today but maybe not tomorrow. And that’s not because I had a divorce.

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j January 13, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I am 41 and married for 13 years with an additional 9 years of dating/living together with my true love. However, in the 9 years of dating and the first few years of marriage we have had our typical problems, but in the latest 5 plus years my husband has been sectretive to the point of me believing he was cheating on me, treats my like I am not good enough, for him or our 2 boys. Furthermore, he doesnt trust my input, my skills as a mother, etc, etc. I have been diagnosed as depressed and have severe anxiety, all of which I feel was prompted by my extreme hurt by my husband. I feel that he doesnt want to be married to me yet he won’t have that “divorce” stygma ruin his social or his parent’ view (this is a subject that has it;s own problems) of him. This is just the tip of the iceburg,

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Jennifer February 12, 2013 at 1:13 am

David,
I live with your second type of husband….the one who sees women as something to control. I don’t know how to deal with it. When we met I was a vibrant and youthful spirit…after 6 years with my husband, I am struggling to keep a will to live. I know that sounds extreme, but it is the truth. I have been reduced to an exccerciser of tasks, not a person. My entire worth rests on how I carry out the tasks he has attributed to my daily existence. I try to inject fun loving ness and closeness and passion, these are met with a swift dismissal. The fun loving spirit is met with a half smile. The closeness is met with aloofness. The passion is silenced by a peck on the lips that I wouldn’t be ashamed to accept from one of our sons. He spends most of his time with me teasing me in a manner reminiscent of childhood sibling rivalry, picking on me is more th term. Or he is criticizing me about some thing or another. I have asked him more times than either he or I are comfortable with…if he loves me. But his behavior is so bizarre to me, that I can not make sense of it. You have suggested being the change, that is how I interpreted your comments. I feel I try to be the change. I adjust, accept, apologize, affirm his perspective whenever I can….but it does nothing. I truly feel he is not interested in my well being nor has noticed or cared the decline in my person. I still have a high self esteem. I know my worth. I just feel as though he doesn’t and that my life no longer reflects that worth. What do I do?

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sympathetic March 18, 2014 at 9:19 am

Jennifer,

I know you wrote this a long while ago, but hopefully you’ll still see this, or at least figured out that your spouse is more than just controlling. He is a narcissist. And I don’t mean in just a descriptive sense, I mean he most likely has Narcissist Personality Disorder. He has no feelings of compassion for you or anyone else. He is absolutely trying to manipulate you and destroy you. What’s worse is if/when you try to break free, he will only try harder to ruin you. Please read up on these types of people and get help dealing with him. I was vaguely aware that my ex had NPD when entering my divorce, but I didn’t seek assistance and didn’t even realize that’s what was what was in play as I suffered through his torment for years. My attorney was in a hurry to get as far from my case as possible as soon as the divorce was finalized because of him and left me high and dry even though the games continued.

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Anonymous March 30, 2013 at 11:20 pm

For a marriage to fail it takes two, and so does for it to work, my husband is stubborn and always blames me for whatever is wrong. He had been the man of the family since he was 12 and thinks very highly of that role, of course he was raised that way. But blaming me for every problem does not take us anywhere, he yells, and calls names, even hits me, and I do not know why I am the cow. I am qualified, healthy and surely I can earn for myself. But coming from a culture that thinks of the whole clan before a divorce doesn’t make things easy. I read about Suzie and felt a connection because that’s my life too. I am not sure what he will do if I tell him I’d see a group of friends, throw tantrums of course. A 5 year old daughter makes things harder to decide, and just to avoid a bigger mess, I aborted a pregnancy in December. Yes, we do have sex and we do talk sometimes, and the other reason for abortion was because my husband just lost his job. Having said it all, my husband is nice because he is responsible and provides for the family, put me through college and has no bad addiction. But we are two different person, and I feel trapped for ever, or at least until I have the courage to cross over. Till then, I wish to happy, connected to my life and peaceful.

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Stacy April 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm

My story goes back 21+ years. I met and married my husband very quickly and within 2 years I found out he had a baby with his high school girlfriend and he gave his rights up to the man she married and that he had fathered another child with a 2 month relationship right before we met. I was married already and thought I loved him before I found this out so how could I not love him now and I didn’t believe I should get a divorce. Then I stupidly allowed myself to get pregnant which further solidified my feelings about divorce. The problem is I have always resented not having the info that I deserved to know before I married him. I will never know if I would have walked away from even falling for him in the first place if I had been told all this up front. It has colored my heart and view of our life from that moment on. I should have left bc I just knew I could never get passed it. But I didn’t. We had been married with 2 children for 18.5 years when many things in life had come to a head and I was certain I wanted out. So I started talking to an ex…stupid. Messages were seen and things came to a head. For about a year we just separated in the house and never spoke about it but assumed one of us would file. We didn’t. I asked him to get us a counselor(as he had to do it for our insurance to cover it) . He never did but we just went on with life. He retired from the service and didn’t get a job for 10 months. Things have been crazy so we have just ignored our personal issues as we had too many others I assumed we were in it for the long hall at this point. It had been 2 more years and for a woman over 40 that is some serious time. He took the first job he was offered in KUWAIT… Which in some ways it was nice bc of the unspoken tension but the whole stress story would take pages to tell. So he leaves in jan. then I get an email 3 days ago that we need to talk about us bc we need to figure out what we are doing before he comes back in jan. 2014. What the hell? We haven’t talked about it for 3 years…really 20 on my part and now we are supposed to talk about it over Skype and make a decision….I am now 44.5 and I never feel well and he is gone and wants to decide on our marriage…not work on it…nothing. What am I supposed to do?

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MPK April 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Stacie, So sad for your situation. You have wasted a lot of time I am afraid. I hate it but it seems like your error is the catalyst for this issue. You may have made a mistake that you regret by marrying him but it sounds like he has been faithful to you and your children for almost two decades since then. That part is something that you should have decided what you would do at the time you discovered it, not 18 years later. I don’t know what might have happened to you if you had learned before marrying what you found out about your husband. But you are past that now. You cannot keep a grudge against someone for 18 years without telling them about it. It is not good for either one of you, or your marriage. And it sounds as if it was the thing that finally drove you to contact an ex. It sounds as if he is waiting for you to file for divorce, possibly looking for a way out himself, without being the “bad” guy. I hope you have apoloogized to him for your error. If not then you need to, and promise it will never happen again. If so then I believe it is time for you to give him the ultimatum. Either he forgives you and his actions show it, and comes back home within some time period that you set – reasonable for him to find another job – or the marriage is over. But understand that hurts like this take a long time to get over – as you well know. Also, ask yourself what your alternatives are. So if you two decide it is over, what then? Where does that leave you? Could you tolerate it?

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Anonymous April 25, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I agree,may be its time to let go,but before youdo that make sure you have funds to support yourself and your kids. The separation does not have it to be nasty,just let go and start a new life. It’s not over until its over and it’s true for having life as well.

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Stacy April 25, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Thanks for responding. True, my error was his catalyst but be assured I had to live with his lies for 20 years and though he was faithful there are other things that he has done that were my catalyst. That year had been the hardest yet and the discovery of a new lie was the straw that broke the camels back. My issue now really is what kind of person sits on this and we haven’t even remotely discussed a break up I since we decided we wouldn’t do it almost years ago then he leaves me here living with family in an awful situation and knows how over stressed and ill I am and he writes this in an email. It doesn’t make sense to me to deal with this while he is contracted over seas for a year and honestly it irks me that he would do this. It definitely hurt him that I talked to the ex and I understand that and I have apologized and I explained what I needed from him at that time for us to try and fix our stuff. Him changing his health thru fitness and eating, making choices to be active and not just when he was guilted into it and helping me with our boys( discipline and creating family times that weren’t always forced, doing things that need to get done without having to have me get frustrated every time before he gets to it and other things) I got about two weeks of effort and then nothing. He takes high blood pressure meds and cholesterol meds and is 50 lbs overweight. He never tries anything to help but meds which make him tried and bloated. I have been ill for 10 years and I still try everyday to keep fit, watch what I eat, be everything to everyone in my house…I try everything not to have to take meds with side effects. If he had ever tried to get healthy and then still needed those meds I wouldn’t be frustrated but he does nothing physical and hasn’t ever, it bothers me. I digress…I got off topic…it just feels like he waited to upset me in a time that my stress is so far over the top that I was already barely able to get thru a day without having a serious stress related symptom appear. No I am not depressed,I am going thru more than I can say on here with our relationship, our kids, our finances, and my ongoing health issues that plague me daily. I don’t think he is trying to be cruel per say I just don’t get this timing…he says he has not met someone but it feels a bit like that. I have trust issues bc he doesn’t like to tell me things that make him look bad, hence the two kids he had with two different women and that he was being sued for child support by one of them when I eloped with him. Ugh….I don’t know why I am even discussing it. I just all upsets me more instead of being therapeutic.

Stacy December 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

He came home in August , had sex with me everyday for 11 days then the day before he left he said he doesn’t like me anymore and he wants a separation. I did not cheat on him btw. I was texting with the x and discussing and planning a rendezvous but it did not ever happen.maybe bc we got caught talking or maybe It never would have happened bc as the time neared either one of us may have bailed. And I have apologized. He hasn’t but I have. I have been a great mother and wife and I gave up my entire life and extended family to be with him and my kids as a family. I do not think things are suddenly good but I simply think that he is and has been my best friend for most of my life. No matter how mad I was at him, I still enjoyed his company and wanted to do things together and tell him everything always. I miss him. He is supposed to come back to the states in a month . He contacts me for FaceTime sex all the time. Every few days. Bc I love him and want to try I comply but I don’t understand what he is doing bc he won’t respond to any loving talk only porn type stuff. Plus he emptied joint account after he said he wanted to separate. We still have filed nothing. I am at a loss.

Anand June 7, 2013 at 1:08 am

Hi,
My problem is without any reason i used to fight. and its all happen just because of food, who will cook. i am in the country where very few options are there to get outside food.i think life is like hell after marriage. if you right also, do all the things which makes wife happy but if she can’t understand, fight will stand. she also speak in a louder voice.sometime i feel i should go and kill myself or admitted in hospital.i am not happy even i have money. Totally disturbed, not sure what to do in life. when fight starts, it will go to parents and all the history, past , everything will come during fight. she also cares me, but once in a week, when she doesn’t want to cook, and i didn’t get any option for food, she started fighting. totally depressed. i don’t have kid as well. going to complete four years of marriage. full of tension. please suggest me.
Thanks
Anand

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Kate July 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm

The optimism. I used to have it too but didn’t understand what was wrong when I’d try to talk, listen in counseling… everything. I wanted to hear… finally I couldn’t handle it anymore, filed divorce, went through hell- and eventually figured out he’s a narcissist. ll the signs were there but I just didn’t see them. Sure, I knew what bothered me but I didn’t know what it really was. Sometimes I can’t stand the Pollyanna attitude that every marriage can be fixed. Sure, get yourself swallowed up and consumed- but hey! You won’t be divorced!

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MPK December 16, 2013 at 10:46 am

It has been some time since I reviewed this thread. I am seeing sooo much stuff on here about how husbands are not meeting their wife’s needs. Mostly with lack of affection. I’ll have to say that I too struggle with this as a husband. Ladies, please understand something….your husbands do not understand this need of yours. And their life is totally different from yours in the work environment. They are not naturally affectionate – to anyone – for the most part. Although I am sure there are always exceptions. Most guys are simply not brought up to show much affection, although now days watching my son and his friends it seems to be changing, but only in their little private school world. One can see some athletes and – ahem – sensitive men – giving each other hugs in public. In my time as a boy and young man if we were seen hugging each other it was a sign of being gay. And the girls did not want to be hugged by their male classmates. Nor did the boys want to. In those days, a guy hugging a girl meant something much more serious than just giving a friendly greeting, although you could get away with it if you hugged all the girls. That is a trick I learned MUCH too late in life. (As an aside, we once had a 108 year old man who came to our church weekly. The ladies all wanted to give him hugs, but they learned to be careful when he got to where he wouldn’t let go.) I’d be willing to wager that most of your husbands are thoroughly overwhelmed by their work and the task of “providing for you and their families”. When they get home they are seeking some time to simply sort out what happened to them at work. Think of it as “emotional self-triage”. You may try to help them by asking them to talk to you about it. I can guarantee you that is the last thing they need to do. I understand that you need affection. I have learned that the hard way, although my wife is still with me. She let herself go after two C-sections. The last one was 18 years ago. So my desire to “hold her and cuddle” has pretty much dried up. Here’s the bottom line: If you want your husband to be affectionate, take very good care of yourself – physically. DO NOT let the tasks of motherhood supercede your responsibility to look and feel your best for your husband. He isn’t supposed to have that need of his met by anyone else.

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sentinus December 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Thank you very much for your response David. All this time I blamed myself for his misery too, because I was (and am) not willing to try. I felt like I was such a horrible person for having demanded what I did. Your response eased the guilt a bit.
I think our marriage is over. Even for the sake of our children, I don’t want tot stay married any longer. I did all those things you suggested. We have been sleeping I’m separate bedrooms for months. Our intimacy issue is now impossible. He says he needs me to love him in order to be able to make love to me, and all o can say is that I don’t love him nor desire him anymore.
As strange as this might sound, if he was a total jerk my life would be simpler, I would just pack up and leave. He is a great person, he would make a very good friend, but not a lover or a partner.

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David Bibby | Lead Your Marriage December 17, 2013 at 8:26 am

Sentinus,

I’ve been in the same situation, but on the other end of it. My wife said “I love you but I’m not IN love with you.”… and for three months she stayed in the separate bedroom.

Here’s the thing. My wife felt as you do now. She didn’t see us together long term for me. She let her feelings for me die and she never thought she feel love or attraction for me ever again.

What I did to rekindle those feelings in her… was that I learned to meet her needs “on purpose”. Not as a manipulation tactic to get what I wanted from her… but I gave her genuine kindness, approval, affection, a listening ear, support, encouragement, and praise.

Also… I grew a backbone… I not longer let her just walk all over me either. I stood up for myself when she’d call me names or use a belittling tone with me. She didn’t like it at first.. but she grew to respect that about me.

After three months.. she came back to me… once she realized that I WAS meeting her needs and that I would CONTINUE to meet her needs and that I would confront her if she neglected MY needs too.

So now we both meet each others needs “on purpose” because that’s just who we are now.

I’m saying all this to you because I don’t think your marriage is too far gone just yet. Your feelings for him have died (and that happens when your needs have gone unmet for so long) and right now you don’t see that changing anytime soon.

You’ve been living in separate bedrooms for months… which means to me that your husband isn’t “man” enough to confront the situation. After a month or two living separately… a “man” would bring things to a head and basically say “Hey, Lady… something needs to change… we need to figure this out or go our separate ways”

Since your husband isn’t going to go this… you’ll just have to be the “man” in the situation and bring things to a head. Tell him you don’t want to be married anymore or file for divorce or make plans to move out of the house.

If he is as “great” a man as you say… then he deserves to have a woman that’s going to love him and be affectionate and sexual with him. If that woman isn’t you… then you need to let him go and be free to find someone else. At the same time, you’ll be free to find a man that you can be attracted to.

If you’re husband is EVER going to be that man (I can’t tell if he is or not) then your moving more in the direction of divorce and physical separation IS going to be the catalyst that will inspire change in him. If he doesn’t wake up… then he never really was the man for you…. and you’ll be doing yourself a favor letting him go.

Again, if you have questions, please let me know.

David

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MPK December 17, 2013 at 9:29 am

Thinking about all this a little more….As a young guy, even in junior high and high school, I observed what was going on with and listened to my friends with their relationship issues. My thought was, “Why would I want to go down that road?” I thought the whole notion of having a relationship with someone of the opposite gender was just too much hassle to deal with. So I didn’t date. I didn’t date anyone until I was 23 yearsold, and a friend from work set me up with a friend of his girl friend. That relationship sort of took over my life for a couple of years. She was really PUSHING HARD to do WHATEVER it took to get me to the altar. She tried several times to get me to have sex with her – out of wedlock.I would have loved doing it but I knew I didn’t want it to happen that way. Now, 35 years later, and having done it the right way with a different girl and having been married to her for 24 years, I think sometimes that it might not have been so bad with that first girl. [I say she was the "first" only because I actually allowed myself to have a relationship with her. I had previously met a couple of young women who were actively seeking a husband. One of them even told me so in just those words. Scared me to death at the time. And I still believe that it is not a good idea to go out and "look for a husband (or wife)". I believe it is much better to be open to good friendships and let God direct your steps toward marriage. Seek His will first.] My wife is a wonderful lady but she has her own neurosies. I’ve come to expect that every woman has some emotional issues. I’ve never met one who doesn’t. But probably many guys will say that same thing. And many women will say that about men. I really don’t think men and women are really designed to “get along” within a close relationship, apart form Jesus Christ. Men and women are very differently made. They don’t have to be ugly to each other though. But the expectations of the marriage relationship seem to be way higher than what any typical man of woman can support. At least based on this forum. I see so many complaints, mostly form woemn, about things where the man is just not meeting their expectations in one way or another. The reports of spouses sleeping apart form each other is alarming. And these seem to be occurring in situations where the couple isn’t really fighting, they just aren’t actively striving to meet each other’s needs – or wants.

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sentinus December 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Dear David
I also did try moving out. As a matter of fact I even found a place. When I told him what i was about to do, he w ent ballistic. He said he would hate me for the rest of our lives. At that time, that scared me and saddened me as well. him hating me is thw last thing i wish. Hate is such a strong feeling it can destroy a person. I didnt want that to happen to nei ther him nor me.
The problem that we are facing right now is my unwillingness to make it work. If possible I would like to send you a private message because I really don’t want to expose my marriage secrets. But i can tell you this, every time I forced myself to be intimate with him, it went from bad to worse which is totally on him.

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David Bibby December 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Sentinus,

If you’d like to contact me… just click on my name above. Per Alisa, I can’t give out my email address here. It may also be beneficial to you to contact Alisa as well. I’ve bought her book and it’s filled with great information.

You asked if you should feel guilty for the way you feel. I say no. You’re feelings about your marriage, yourself, and your husband are YOUR feelings. Your husband should be validating you, empathizing with you, and LISTENING to you but he isn’t. He’s telling you that your feelings are wrong, that you should just love him as he is regardless of how he treats you. People don’t think that a constant unaffectionate, dismissive, neglectful, ignoring husband is all that bad… but it IS!

No… you don’t need to feel guilty for wanting out of a relationship in which you’ve been ignored constantly.

On the issue of intimacy… I can tell you from experience that FORCING yourself to be intimate with him will always backfire. A man doesn’t want to feel like he’s USING you. To put it simply… he wants you to WANT him.. but since you’re not attracted to him, he can’t “feel it” and so things go very badly.

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sentinus December 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

As I said, I don’t see it possible for me to fall back in love with him. I told him on several occasions that he deserved bettter than what I couldn give to him, and that he should look for it somewhere else because that we werre not compatible anymore. I have grown so far apart from.him over the years that I don’t have the energy nor willingness to stay married. His issue with me right now is exaclty that. He says he has been doing his best (which you can tell is not good enough for me), but he needs my cooperation if I want our marriage to survive.
Should I feel guilty ffor how I feel? Am I really a terribly selfish person who does not understand what commitment is or who doesn’t know how to love?

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MPK December 17, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Sentinus,
I hope you don’t mind my buttingin. These statements, “When I told him what i was about to do, he w ent ballistic. He said he would hate me for the rest of our lives. At that time, that scared me and saddened me as well.”,are a huge red flag to me about the relationship. He is attempting to hold you hostage with the threat of hate. You cannot feed this tactic. This is verbal abuse. That right there is one indication of somethign that he is doing that prevents you from having any feelings for him. Don’t let him intimidate you with this kind of stuff. If you feel you cannot love him, then you have made the decision already. What kind of a marriage is it where the wife cannot love the husband?

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Just Is December 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm

About why women complains…
I recently pay my parents a visit and not to my surprised, found that they don’t always get along. My mom nags and make sarcastic remarks, my dad on the other hand, seems to have turn a deaf ear. In fact they both admit they they are selectively deaf to each other and they are still married and have no intention to go separate ways.

I am happy to learn that when my mom goes traveling by herself, she seem to miss my dad. My dad on the other hand doesn’t seem to show any sign of missing her. But of course, he is glad when she is home. He said “all these eating out is bad for him”. My mom went back into her routine of cooking and preparing his meals the same day she touches off. And when asked, my mom says “your dad doesn’t seem to miss me”.

There she is complaining about lack of affection and romance. My dad doesn’t hear any of this. It’s not a frequency that he receives and so he doesn’t react. They have been married for more than 30 years and I don’t see my dad as a romantic person. It is a simple practical life where fine dining is replaced with cheap eats, flower is replaced by food. He simply doesn’t know what is romance and how to be romantic. He will never say things like, I can’t live without her although he really can’t live without her. If he upsets my mom, there were no apologies, he simple just say “come on, let’s go out and eat”

And so I imagine, that is how it has always been, she complains, he doesn’t acknowledge, she gets frustrated, she ignores him, he doesn’t know what has just happened and a few days passed and all is forgotten and the cycle starts again.

Personally, I complained about lack of affection and romance too. My husband talks more about car to me than talking to me. He spends more time with his car than he spends with me. He buys more presents for his car than he does for me. Ironically, he puts me as the owner of the car. I really don’t know how to interpret this.

Several times I have slept in separate room because we have fought over something insignificant. And all the dissatisfaction I have for him just becomes apparent. So many why. The list of complaints doesn’t end. And when I decide to get out of my cave I confront him with this list. He lets me blab away. I think that’s when he thinks “Why is she complaining so much?” But he never does anything about it.

And then I realized, he must be stupid. All men are until taught to be wise and since no one really teach men/women about marriages, they must be in the dark and is clueless as to what complains mean. So with much effort, “why don’t you take out the garbage?” becomes, “Please help us take out the garbage” And this is used every week so a variation is required or it will appear like nagging. And some week, I don’t have to use it because I have done it. And I would say, “Don’t worry about the garbage I’ve done it.”

I don’t know for sure but I would like to think the choice of words we use to communicate is important so we don’t appear nagging or complaining. Also note that a pleasant tone will deliver the message better. “Please” indicates you are giving him the opportunity to please, and also seems polite. “Help” is well, everyone likes to be of help to another person, so let him feel good. “Don’t worry” implies he has been worrying and of course we all know it has never crossed his mind but who doesn’t like it when people thinks highly of them.

I would think that for that man, he will either start doing it and continues to do it without prompting or he will just wait for you to ask him again. And then there are the procatinators who just puts it off. That’s when, “You don’t have to do it now, but do it when it’s commercial” comes in really handy. Nobody likes to be interrupted when in the process of turning into a couch potato. So what if you have to say it 10 times, do you have the patience? Will you lose it and do it yourself?

If you are a woman reading this, turn your complaints into clear concise messages. Communication techniques is essential. “You are not affectionate” doesn’t help. “Get me some flowers on the way home” is better but if you are really good “please get me some sunflowers on the way home, if there isn’t, I wouldn’t mind some roses or daisies, there is a flower shop that closes at 5 at the corner of bla bla street”. The difference between complaining and instructing is one will get you result, the other one doesn’t. The earlier you accept that men in relationship are like preschool kids, require much support to grow, the better. Who knows that over time he will learn that you like sunflowers… and will get you some out of the blue.

If you are a man reading this, the moment you hear a complain, don’t walk away, don’t turn a deaf ear, but question her, find out more and be prepare she is not always ready to tell you exactly the problem, because she also is in preschool and require much support to grow. Most like she just saw a post on Facebook and got jealous over her friend who has just received a bunch of flowers and then complains you are not affectionate but then finds it silly to admit she is so silly. So she couldn’t tell you more. Sometimes you may not know what to do, sometimes she doesn’t really know what she wants, it is not your fault. But she did say you are not affectionate, I don’t see why you can’t just kiss her. It may not be what she wanted, but it could just be. And not doing anything about it is the last thing you want to do.

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MPK December 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Just Is,
Yours and a number of the other posts above seem to describe a situation where the couple got married, perhaps thinking that is just how it should be because someone like a pastor or their parents told them, but expecting for better things to develop in time and having a very real expectation that it would. She hoped he would learn to be more affectionate and romantic – thought she could change him. He thought she might lose some weight, or learn to overcome her modesty in the bedroom, and he is still waiting for that after kids and a number of decades, or has just given up hope. They are both feeling trapped. Neither one has any real motivation to make an effort to improve since they have, over the decades, tried everything they knew and were dissappointed, or heart broken, because nothing mattered to their spouse, who was mentally and emotionally not listening to them because they were somewhere else. Maybe not physically but mentally not plugged in to what would have made their spouse happy with them. The women all seem to want more affection. But let’s face it, by and large most of them make zero effort to improve their looks or performance in the bedroom for the man. They all stand behind the same old time-honored traditional excuses….having born children, age, busyness, cleaning, folding clothes, ironing, etc., “I’m just too worn out from all this housework YOU make me do.”, “Why don’t you give me some help around the house?!”, and so on. While the man doesn’t care about the house being spotless in the first place and the best way for you ladies to please him and spruce up his idea of the home is for YOU to be the decoration!

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sentinus December 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm

MPK
I appreciate your comment. Although i should not be playing too mich of the victim here. Afterall it takes two to tango.
I should take responsibility for the failing of my marriage. I just don’t know what to do anymore. All I know is I gave up on my marriage and stopped.loving him long ago, now even though my husband is trying his best, I don’t even care enough to try. I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck and depressed all the time.

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MPK December 23, 2013 at 11:18 am

Sentinus,
You say you don’t care enough to try. There’s nothing I can tell you that will solve this problem. It is simply a matter of will and intentions. You are on the fence “stuck” between jumping out of the relationship altogether, or making another go of it. You just need to make up your mind what you are going to do and then do it. The feelings don’t necessarily lead your actions. That may be your problem. You are waiting to “feel” good about one thing or another, prior to doing something. Your feelings will guide you falaciously. Decide what is best and get on with the act(s) of doing whatever that is. You will be glad later, or have regrets from making a mistake. Either way you will no longer be paralized.

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sentinus December 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm

You are absolutely right. There is.one big issue though. I don’t even know what would be the best decision. I am scared of the unknown to begin with. If i were to follow my heart I would definitely leave, if I we re to listen to my mind then I would stay I guess. I want to have passion in my life. I need a lover, not only a roommate/friend.

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gita January 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm

I married a man 7 yrs younger and i have a 14 yr old son of first marriage. Now i have a 3 yr old boy too. He promised the world before marrying. First year of marriage he started betraying. Its been 8 yrs no change but worst. Forcing me to earn more, give him money although he is an IT engineer, emotional and physical abuse although i dont entertain, i am not small or timid, his family indirectly not accepting me and encouraging him to abuse me, he hates it when i show him i am strong and he deserts me and kids, tells me he can go out anytime and come back anytime , he doesnt like what i wear or if i dress up, tells my teenager that hes not his son and ignores kids. We had separated and got back many times. He refuses to stop cheating and abusing. He is a phsyco and i am tired. I stopped talking to him and we just live in the same house. I feel more respected and at peace. I am talkingbto counsellors as in moving forward. Hes filthy rich and i feel he must do his responsibility for kids. I am not leaving till i am ready to. Till then i mind my own business.

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nick February 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

I feel that the only way the my wife is happy with the marriage is when I am doing everything for her and that is it. If I forget even for one day to only do something for her then then the fight happens once again and the cycle starts again and whatever time I spent with her or helped her etc didn’t count. Even if I especially asks her what she wants and try to do it she will tell me later on that none of that COUNTed. I have accepted that no matter how much I try it will never COUNT with her. The only solution I see is that I die sooner than later (since divorce is not in the cards) and she can finally marry someone better.

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sarkanak March 1, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Nick,
I am so terribly sorry that you feel this way. We get to live only one as far as i know, and what you describe is not a good way to lead a life.
What makes you say that divorce is not an option? Maybe that is indeed the reason why she treats you the way that she does. Maybe she feels stuck with you which is not the way a spouse should be feeling about their spouse in a healthy marrige. I know this first hand. I do feel stuck in my marriage which results in me doing and saying things to my husband I normally wouldn’t do or say, and now i guess i simply refuse to see his good sides rather than bad. I have built up a huge amount of resentment over the years that I find it difficult to let go, and even now that my husband is doing everything “right” in his way, he can’t seem to please me.
Your wife is not necessarily a bad person or wife, nor that she is not built for marriage, but simply is not happy in YOUR marriage. I am no expert, if I were I myself would be in a happy marriage. What I suggest though, you talk to her with an open mind and heart. Figure out what the problem really is. Stop doing everything as she instructs you to do because it’s not going to help, she will only get more irritated.

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