6 Signs You Are Stuck in a Bad Marriage


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.


  • 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.
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107 comments… add one

  • Sara August 19, 2014, 3:14 pm

    Like you Brenda, I am living in a relationship where my husband gives me the silent treatment any time I say anything he doesn’t like. He will not take responsibility for his actions even as far as laying blame on our 6 year old – “she wanted to play the 17+ age restricted game with me” when I complained that he had allowed that. My husband is in hospital now after having severe pain last night – I have been the dutiful wife and gone to visit him and take him what he needs, but it is a relief to have him out the house – this seems to be the end of a week long silent treatment and I have no idea whether it will continue when he comes home or not. We are also in a sexless marriage (his doing – not mine) and the constant rejection is wearing me down. I have two beautiful daughters from this, my only marriage and for that I will forever be grateful, but the isolation and loneliness is crippling and when I did not want to visit him in hospital and when I did not care that he was in pain or had to go there, I felt like I must be a bad person, but it is hard to care for someone so distant and so intent on punishing me for anything that expresses a desire other than what he wants. I am scared to leave – my children have friends and a life they would lose and they still love their Daddy though they see him so little and spend no time really sharing with him (he puts them in front of the TV while he plays computer games when he is with them – any technology is an excuse not to get to know anyone, including his wife).

    • minadach August 29, 2014, 12:05 am

      I am so sorry. I wish you the best. You don’t need that. I consistently try to change my husband but I realized that you can’t change someone who is blameful, hateful and a wall. He finally after I left him for four months decided he was going to try and we after a year been doing way better than before. He used to not even try and get so angry, but now he actually sits and try and ot makes me try. Instead of me getting potty and play the blame game, I don’t react as quickly and yell as fast. Until we both saw that we both needed to work than nothing was going to change. Unfortunately I don’t see that in your relationship. He seems childish and unfortunately not showing any love :( hope ot gets better or you get the courage to move on because you can’t truly be there for your children if you are unhappy.

  • Incredulous August 19, 2014, 4:27 pm


    Narcissists are game players. I understand that the rest of us have feelings, and when we respond with the same tactics which they treat us to, we feel horribly. However, it is the only way to salvage a shred of humanity, and more importantly, a way to break the cycle and save your children. I understand you are afraid of uprooting your children and taking them from their friends. However, we all grow and move on to new and different friends throughout or lives regardless of whether we stay in the exact same location or whether we move. Your children won’t be losing what you think they will and instead they will be gaining so much more. They will be gaining a mother who can be wholly healthy and they will be gaining independence they never realized they didn’t have. I completely understand how difficult and scary it is to turn and run from not only an inconsistent tormenter, but also someone who potentially does provide some bit of support in some ways. I have complete faith in you to put yourself on the path where you can be free. You don’t need the excess baggage. You aren’t gaining anything from such a sad sack of nothingness. Give him doses of his own medicine, and silently slip away in the dead of night so that you won’t have to see what happens when you really upset a narcissist. Best wishes!

  • Anyadviseplease April 1, 2015, 12:47 am

    Let me start off with background. 10 yrs married. 3 lovelys, 3 dogs, a cat and barely my sanity. We are in process of selling our too small home. The prob is we own mom/pop construction co. I could go on and on.. But I need to know how to love someone who is NEVER wrong. It is wearing me down, I love him but do not like him. It’s hard for me to comprehend how an individual can never be wrong. Is there any hope with someone with this mentality?

    • TheListener April 28, 2015, 8:06 am

      Hi Anyadviseplease,
      I am sorry for what you are facing. 10 years is a very long time. No, a person can ever be always right. Neither can he be always wrong. Everybody has a little bit, or a lot of both. Living with someone who always think that they alone are right, and the opinions of others doesn’t matter, can truly be a painful experience. One may even say that it will eat away at your soul, bit by bit over the course of time. As to your question ‘is there any hope with someone with this mentality?’ – the answer is like this, a person won’t change unless they themselves see a need, a reason or a purpose for them to change. But, when there is love, there is always a chance. Nothing can be done, without a little bit of hope – Hellen Keller.

      I’m not entirely clear on what you really mean by ‘he thinks he is never wrong’. Does this mean he never accepts your opinion/suggestion/idea regarding the construction company you both own, or is it on how to raise your kids, or which new house is better for you two to purchase? Or is it about small, personal things – color of the curtains (you like blue, he likes green, hence you are wrong), or you get back late from work and dinner is at times delayed, and he can’t understand that this is because of work, and anything you say to make him understand is unaccepted, and he thinks you need to better manage your time and dinner preparations, hence you are wrong. Knowing these things in detail help come up with better, more specific solutions that you can work with. Communication is always important.

      But I’m going to go with my best guess right now :
      In any relationship, the best thing to invest in is time, conversation, and understanding. Your best way of solving this problem you are facing, while preserving the family, marriage and home that you have, is to sit down with him and try to communicate. You have to figure out a way to get him to just sit and listen to you for a while. The key to this is to make sure that once you have him ready to listen, that you say things that are nothing but solid and reasonable points to make. He must see the need for change. The things you tell him must be true, must be rational, must be conceivable. You must be able to communicate with him effectively and let him see why this is important to you, and how important it is to you. Make sure you don’t yell, or get carried away. Speak clearly, and speak with a serious tone – so he knows that this is serious. Make sure you give him a chance to talk after you are done, and listen thoroughly too. Ask questions if you must. If he doesn’t take your questions seriously, then that shows that he doesn’t respect your effort of communicating, and is not listening.

      Now, how are you going to get him to sit quietly and listen to what you have to say? A person who is never wrong (in their own eyes) can be impossible to sit down and talk to sometimes. Will you be able to do this? If you must, throw in something like, “If you love me you will listen.” You are not trying to trick him by saying this, but you are telling the truth. A person who only think they alone are right may sometimes (or most of the time) put others down and barely gives them a chance to talk.

      Your husband sounds like my father. But instead of 10 years of marriage, my parents had 26 (to date). I wouldn’t wish what happened/happens to my mother, onto even my worst enemy. This, for surely affects your 3 kids too, even if you think it doesn’t. When something chips away at your soul, you lose a large part of who you are/could be.

      Email me if you need to, it’s always important to have a window to these things.

      • Jojo June 8, 2015, 5:12 am

        It’s always the man who’s to blame and when the husband seeks advice from a nut case woman it’s never taken serious and all the stories are shame on him. WTF. . . .

  • Susan Miller April 27, 2015, 8:45 am

    Great post. Thank you. Nice twist. We control and choose our destiny– not just observe/react. The sign that you might be in a bad relationship starts inside.

  • sherry wood July 7, 2015, 8:47 am

    I can relate. It will be 19 yrs this month not sure what day. I have wanted to leave this person for years now. I am trapped due to financial reasons of not being able to leave. When I meet him I had a daughter I raised by myself for 7 yrs. No help financially. We meet I thought he would be different cause he did not drink or try to abuse me. He moved in with me with no job. He gave up his job and all his friends and has clung to me ever since. I thought he was the quiet type and just had a lot of bad life happening to him. We eventually got married I am 51 and he is 45. Through the years I have had to be the man and woman.. He never had any kids and he agnored my daughter all these years she is 25 and out of the environment. I have went back to college working on my Masters degree which he thinks is a waste of time . He lives on computer games 51 hrs aweek qne he will work 55 hrs aweek driving a truck. home every night he hates to work and I have heard him wine for yrs. I want to just leave him when we do talk it turns into a fight he controls all the money and keeps it in a lock box. I have a rokcwheiler Dog she is my life and I don’t think I can just up and leave her I want. I have no feelings for him. When stay in separate bedrooms for 8 or 9 yrs now. These last yrs I have got high blood and health issues. He is making me sick . I was in a reck with him driving and I needed to go to the hospital and he wouldn’t even call an ambulance. I had 3 disks in my neck messed up. and have been recovering for a yr now. I need encourage from someone who has had to take the risk with big dog and get work and get away

    • Incredulous July 7, 2015, 2:31 pm


      I haven’t had to pick up and leave with my dog myself so I can’t tell you that I have done it. But what I do know is I have been chronically ill for the past 15 years. I have been free from my abusive ex-husband for the past 5 years. Well, actually only 3 because there was still some aftermath after I was physically free, but it was still better than being with him. He abused me mentally for at least 6 of the 20 years we were together, probably more as I continue to piece together different things he would do and say. My dogs are my life and always will be. But the important part which relates to you is my health improved after I broke free. I didn’t recover completely, but it was such a huge difference to not be under his control and negativity. I do understand the fear of being able to support yourself and I also understand the fear for your health. But I know you will find a way if you and your Rottweiler pick up and disappear. Reach out to old friends whom he doesn’t know whom you haven’t been in contact with in awhile. Even if you feel that they might not still care about you the same way they used to, I bet they do. Once you get somewhere else you can work on getting your school credits transferred to a different school and meanwhile continue to work elsewhere. Your daughter is already out of the house so she can connect with you in a new home. It’s time for you to have your life back. There’s also a program which helps pay for emergency boarding for your pet called redrover.org I’m not sure if I can share a link in this message, so if there’s not one showing, look up red rover for help while you find a place to stay. http://www.redrover.org/domestic-violence-and-pets

      There are other people who have done it, just not myself.
      Incredulous´s last blog post ..Why Not to Say Hi On OKCupid

  • Trisha Lynch August 30, 2015, 5:43 pm

    I did read the article and each number carefully. I have to admit that I was once a yeller. Over the years the yelling subsided. Why yell? I was not getting my point across. I sounded like a lunatic. So what was the point. My marriage is 26 years young and it has been horrible from the start. But being the type that did not believe in divorce, I stayed. I never cheated. I never went out to bars or had girlfriends to hang out with. I stayed home, raised my three children, and was miserable. He constantly accuses me of cheating. It got worse when I became disabled. If I went to work I was having an affair. I stayed home, I was sleeping with my neighbors. I went to college I must be sleeping with classmates. You know…the crazy thing was, I never even considered cheating. Sex turns me off. I guess I am with the wrong man, but I really don’t care if I ever have sex. My main goal is raising my kids. Now they are young adults, but still I have a role in being there for them. THe empty nest is playing on my nerves but I still don’t want to go out and FIND SOMEONE. I guess I am loyal to a man who hates my guts. He tells me how unattractive I am daily. He says he is embarrassed to be seen in public with me. He tells me cruel things and yet expects me to just hop in bed with him whenever he wants. The bedroom, which has been his for the last 13 years, is as vacant as his heart. I have found my place on the couch for the last 13 years. I don’t want to be near him and avoid him as best as I can. So many people tell me why havent you divorced him. I would love to leave him, but like so many other wives, I am trapted finacially. I can’t support myself on disability. I can’t rent an apartment on what I get monthly. And I don’t know the first step on what to do? Or even if it is possible. He keeps threatening me that he is going to move and I can be kicked to the curb like a stray dog. He verbally abuses me, and only a few times on occassion has physically abused me. Yes, I know once is enough. I did leave and moved into a shelter with my three kids, that was 13 years ago. He found us, kidnapped my kids, and I could not handle it. I came back to the house with my tail between my legs. I did it for my kids sake. I knew he would never let them go. Now they are past 18. So now he would not have to pay child support. But now, I am disabled due to a car accident. I can’t find a job because I can’t pass the drug screen with the meds I am on. I would love to find a job working from my computer, but again, I have no clue on where to even look. I am just at the end of my rope, barely hanging on. I just don’t know what to do? If I could live on my own and get divorced I would be so happy. I would not have panic attacks or always be so anxious knowing he is coming home from work. Depression has become my best friend. For those of you who has been in my shoes, how did you start? What do I need to do?

    • Diane October 20, 2015, 12:54 am

      Oh boy do we have much in common! I’m in the same mess. Married for 30 awful, loveless years with no end in sight. I was a very young single mother when I met him. He was older & mature, fairly wealthy, & showed interest in me. I dove right in head first & in less than 3 mos had moved in with him out of state assuming we would have a great life together & my child, 8 then, would have a father. Huuuuggge mistake! He ignored her completely, was totally emotionally unavailable, gave me the silent treatment whenever I wanted to discuss an issue & had no interest in sex. He criticized me because I gained a few pounds even though I was thin, he would lock himself in his den after work, on his computer the whole time. I was rejected physically, emotionally & occasionally physically abused as well. His family was awful to me too. I remained essentially a single mother but now had the added hell if trying to cope with this bastard. My health declined sharply & it was clear I couldn’t support myself & have health insur, a car etc on my own. So I’ve stayed. And every waking moment it kills me to have to accept growing old alone with this sad excuse if a man who’s killed my spirit, broken my heart & erased all the love I had for him in spite of how he treated me. Worse yet hes retired a few years ago & around all the time now with no breaks till I go out in desperation sometimes just sitting in a parking lot just to get away. Now the money isn’t there, further limiting my every move. I have the exact same question: how to cope with a hopeless marriage. My daughter is 37 & is bitter toward me & the past. She obviously hated him for good reason but blames me for staying. So I not only don’t have a husband but pretty much lost my only child as well. I’ve had tons of counseling & have been advised to leave him & if I cant then to have my own life which is what I’ve tried for the last 4 yrs when I gave up hope after 26 yrs of this. I only get so far with it. I feel so broken by all that’s happened & especially angry. It eats at me. I’m attempting to meet like minded women & stay busy cooking & reading, limiting what time I have to spend with him. The regrets are huge. Like you I find it hard to be there for him in any way since when I’ve been I’ll he was only barely there for me. And many times not at all. I’m going to try church since I’ve gotten all there is from counseling. It’s sad to see so many women in this spot. The myth that women don’t have to stay with an abusive husband these days is just that. Many have no choice. I’d love to hear from women in the same circumstances & how they’re coping. Best of luck to you.

      • Stillfighting April 22, 2016, 12:39 pm

        I feel for you honey but the advise i would give u is to still try to break out with the help of your daughter. Cling to her and let her be your strength as well as other like minded women. I definitely agree with your statement about the myth where women dont have to stay with their abusers. Society says it so it doesnt have to deal with these men.

  • Incredulous October 20, 2015, 12:33 pm

    Hang in there gals. I have faith that it is possible to get away and make it on our own. I have read success stories and they were from women who were broke, with children, and chronically ill or injured. I know the odds are stacked against us. I know how cruel society is towards us. I know how little support there is. I know how depression creeps in. And I know how finances are a huge issue and there is a huge gender bias regardless of what anybody says or thinks. And I also know that we are highly likely to be abused because of each of the traits which makes it harder for us to break away; they make it more appealing for somebody to try to take advantage of us because they think they can get away with it and feel more powerful doing so.

    Hold your head up high, even if it’s inside your own head. When you feel as though you are stuck inside the ocean with the waves hitting you hard, knocking you over with an undertow pulling you back out to sea, just remember to swim alongside the shore, keep your wits about you, try not to panic and let your natural buoyancy carry you to the surface. Eventually the oceans will calm and there will be a chance to safely head to shore. I know it is little consolation, but we are actually stronger than our abusers because we have withstood so much torture for so long. We have not crumbled and become a complete basket case, we have not turned into mean, angry, bitter abusers ourselves.

    I would greatly like to find a way to gather resources to help others so that as much as they might need/want is available in one location without having to spread a wide net searching. I want to have stories from people who have made it out along with ways to leave notes in case the writer feels compelled to respond. I want to have links, addresses and phone numbers for the different shelters, outreaches, funds, supports and any other resources and have them organized by location, type and any other way they might be usefully grouped to make it easier for people to find what they need and want. Because I know how hard it is to find what you need when you need it. And I also know how useless many counselors are when you are feeling trapped or desperate. It’s so difficult for somebody to understand a situation when they haven’t been through it themselves. And there are so few people who seem truly capable of compassion, sympathy and empathy these days.

    If anybody has thoughts and ideas about things and ways to gather any of these things, I’d love to hear it. I know of a guy who created a resource for people who have been and who are going through drug addiction through writing and I know it has been well received and is becoming pretty popular. It would be great to have something like that but also include as many links as possible so that people can connect where they need to. A sort of switchboard for salvation. I want to help so badly and it hurts to feel so helpless.

    At the very least, know that I’m reading every single comment that gets posted as a response to this string of comments.

    • Diane October 20, 2015, 3:45 pm

      You are very kind for caring & wanting to help. If the world were full of people like yourself there’d b no need for it. As u said however the world is so full of people who are totally selfish & unfeeling. I feel like I’m watching the decline of our society right before my eyes. I’m 55 but I still remember a kinder softer society from my childhood. I often wonder why & whats caused people to decline in their values & priorities? Very sad. The selfishness really stands out.

  • Katie November 1, 2015, 2:42 pm

    My husband is angry all the time. No matter what it is, he handles it with anger. Being a bully seems to work for him. I am not able to communicate with him. He demands that I sit and listen to what he has to say but wants me to be seen and not heard unless I agree with him.
    I am a giver and try to keep the peace in the house. but have had to learn how to put limits on this because he is a taker and has no limits. He has a couple of addictions and is Bi polar, has anger and control issues, high blood pressure, is diabetic and has a pill for just about everything. He is on disability so he is home all day long . We have separate bedrooms and I basically live in my bedroom to avoid any confrontations. I have a few health issues that make it impossible to work and we have two kids. The house is the only thing we are hanging onto. I really wish there was more help out there. I am so depressed and wish there was a way out.

  • Hazel November 20, 2015, 10:36 am

    Hi Katie. I know how you feel. If you have any kind of illness or disability it’s harder to leave I think. And age makes it harder too. All the things I read about leaving are so positive, but if you’re young enough and not disabled you can find work. I also have a disability and am in my late 50s. We’re not even married! He wouldn’t want to marry me because that would make me equal and give me rights. He is looking out for himself. It’s hard to be with someone who won’t look out for you financially if something happened to him. I could still leave, despite my age and disability, but he has a child who I have brought up and I can’t leave the child – not for me – I could cope, but the child would be affected. So I stay to give as much normality as I possibly can for the child, despite the fact I am often unwell and I know this is partly because of the stress of the relationship. Yes it is a trap and I would also like some words of wisdom as to ways out. I have found discussion based on ‘we’ are both being critical and lets try not to criticize for a week – does help a bit for a while, but it’s like being a parent rather than a partner, and I know I’m not loved or respected. If it wasn’t for the child I would leave, but even then – it’s the devil and the deep blue sea. Trying to keep disability benefits is so stressful and frightening these days and being homeless and penniless also makes you ill.

    It’s sad but I really do think the only real solution is a pile of cash sometimes – so you can afford to leave, buy your own place, pay your own way, pay for taxis or medical care, help around the house and even possibly a financial incentive to keep in contact with stepchildren eg. So I hang on to the idea that one of these days, when I get enough mental space – I will write a book and try and publish it or find some way to earn that big pile of cash. Finding mental space is difficult in a bad relationship but snatches of it can help. So have hope. You may be able to find that inspiration one day to do something to make that big pile of cash. When I feel trapped and rock bottom I dig out a few motivational books to remind myself I was once a feisty business person with great ideas and people always wanted to employ me – until I got old and disabled!

  • Kim February 7, 2016, 12:26 am

    30 yrs married 2 kids in their early 20s loveless marrige.husband yells about anything mostly money.I’m 53 don’t make enough on my own..no family…don’t know what to do

  • Incredulous February 7, 2016, 12:47 am

    My thought is to at least consult an attorney. Start at legal aid. It wouldn’t hurt to ask first of all if you qualify for free legal cousil. If you aren’t making any money yourself or not enough for their specific level they you would qualify. Even if you don’t, you can still try step two, consult with another attorney who is often times free for the first consultation. And you can find out how realistic it is for you to be able to get alimony and assistance if you were to leave/divorce and try to get your hopefully soon-to-be-ex to pay for any legal fees. I also know that in some states even if you aren’t married there is such a thing as a common law marriage so you do have rights.

    And when you feel that you don’t make enough, there are many different programs in place to help. It’s largely a matter of finding out what is out there and how to get the ball rolling. I do know how being with the wrong person does make you sicker, weaker, more miserable and all around makes life harder. I have a really good friend with chronic health issues who was terrified of her abusive spouse leaving her, largely because she couldn’t afford to be on her own. But he finally left her a few months ago and she is actually feeling so much better. She is tackling everything one thing at a time. It’s terrifying, I do know from personal experience. I am still terrified of how I’m going to afford to live for the rest of my own life. But I am SO glad that I am free from my abuser.

    Think of it this way, would you rather be struggling to survive while trapped with an abuser or struggling to survive on your own when you are capable of thinking clearly and feeling good about yourself? It’s so hard to make clear choices while you are trapped with toxic individuals. I have faith in you and I know you all deserve better.

  • emeka March 11, 2016, 11:55 am

    I am male 49 black ,married 17 years now.we have 2 kids 16 and 14.shes never worked for a day I provide all as much as I possibly can.been on vacation last 2 years on the trot.bought her a nice car much better than mine.yet she just can appreciate. Never says Thank you instead is always grumpy and complains I do not love or appreciate her.what is female perspective on my dilemma

  • Jalla March 23, 2016, 8:16 pm

    My husband and I have been married for 20 yrs, we have 2 kids one is all grown, while the other is 14 with special needs. My problem is that my husband communicates too much with his parents, who don’t like me because I’m Hispanic and they are just too ignorant. I just feel trapped in this marriage. We communicate, my husband loves me, but sometimes he makes me wonder there’s someone else he’s seeing. Since, my dad passed away, I feel more trapped than ever before. Yet, it opened my eyes to do things. However, with transition from the military, to civilian, to living with his parents for a year. It was very difficult. I now struggle with depression silently. It’s very difficult to do every day things, yet I cook for my husband 2 meals a day, try to maintain the home, care for our special needs son, with a smile on my face. Yet, because I’m not taking care of myself, I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I remember when we first met I would always get compliments from him as well as strangers. I have gained weight, my hair is shorter, my skin is not the same and I’m not comfortable with who I’ve become. Don’t get me wrong, I have great assets; I LOVE kids, I have tons of patience, good listener, hopeless romantic, intelligent, good sense of humor, great singer, musically inclined, optimistic, and artist. I’m that person that you meet for the first time and you get a sense that you’ve known me a long time. My life is just not what I am. It’s not a reflection of the qualities that I have. Since, my husband really never cared for socializing, or having friends, going to concerts, museums, attentingr college. I always felt I had to compromise and eventually I ended up with nothing. Ive given up soo much that I don’t recognize who I am. He’s willing to spend outrageous money on his vehicle, yet for Christmas I got a $56 Cubic Zirconia ring. Tell me was I being unreasonable when I got upset? Don’t get me wrong I get flowers, sometImes unexpectedly. We have a good sex life, but it’s difficult for me right now at this point in my life to see pass this. I try to have a good attitude, but things that his parents or that he’s done will resurface & then I get upset. I just feel that I get taken for granted; hes a good provider. But then again I don’t have expenses, no credit card debt, just student loans. I struggle with leaving the house (agoraphobia), yet I still manage to go grocery shopping on a good day, appts, etc. I’m not on any medication. Yet to me, I think it’s more difficult, since now I have more time to reflect on the things that are not working out. I’ve told my husband we need to see a therapist, but he won’t go through with it. I have seen the man he can be when he was not my best friend, with my son having special needs, I think it makes it that much more difficult and depressing. Sometimes, I think I’m being unreasonable, but then I remember we DONT take yearly vacations, we DONT attend church, we DONT have friends, We DONT have weekly date nights, We DONT have a lot of things in common. I DON’T have a lot to look forward to, we DON’T EVER travel. I would love to have something to look forard, some spontaneity in my life for a change. I LOVE to read and since we’ve been married he’s NEVER read one single book. I can strike up a conversation with a stranger, yet my husband is the opposite. I LOVE school. I have become this person I said I would never be. A person that watches a lot of tv, is overweight, doesn’t excercise and who is sometimes too terrified just to leave her home. How can I leave my husband, when I myself am broken, unable to leave my house?

    • Incredulous March 23, 2016, 9:06 pm


      Why not take things one at a time? It’s easy for anybody to feel overwhelmed when there are so many things weighting them down. You definitely have a lot on your plate to focus on. A son with special needs, agoraphobia, in-laws who seem prejudiced against you and struggling with depression. I can also understand feeling insecure in your looks especially if you no longer receive validation that you are still a beautiful woman regardless of the number on a scale, the length of your hair, the elasticity of your skin or any other transient features of aesthetics.

      When we become focused on specific issues it becomes difficult to step back and see things any differently than the way we have narrowed our field of vision to see. It’s possible that all of the things which are making you feel miserable and insecure are also making it difficult to recognize that perhaps things aren’t as hopeless and as bad in your marriage as they feel right now. And even though your husband says that he won’t go to counseling with you, that isn’t necessarily a sign that he doesn’t care about you and your marriage. It’s very common for people to not want to go to counseling. You could try going by yourself. Maybe he would be supportive even of you going. And perhaps if he is supportive of you going then maybe sometime later, after you’ve established a pattern and found somebody whom you are comfortable with, you could convince him to come to an appointment with you in order to help you continue to heal. One step at a time.

      You’ve done a good job here of sharing the things about yourself which you know make you a wonderful person. The more you are able to shape your focus like that and minimize the downsides or things which you “DON’T” do, the better. I have faith in you. I can also let you in on a secret about the world; everyone is broken in some way.

  • Carolyn July 13, 2016, 12:09 am

    I have worked so hard during this entire horrible marriage being the bread winner, supporting the entire family! He never bothered getting a trade and was constantly layed off, as he calls it! Being a professional cook now for 18 years.. He delivers newpapers for a living. I have to pay entire rent and buy all the groceries, toiletries. Even had to drive myself to hospital after water broke and full on labour started because he refused..His family are outlaws, some have done time. He uses the kids as vices for sympathy to get support to his pathetic , unbelievable reasons to not get trade qualifications in any thing!! Even a friggin security guard. I am so stressed and exhausted all the time trapped in this rotten vice gripp. Why I even said yes to marriage is unbelievable, but I did not see the reality of the situation until after the wedding plus pregnancy. Lugging huge bags of laundry up to laundry matt at 7 mos pregnant, and his stupid dysfunctional family and their never ending issues, all the abuse his family endured at the hands of his dad. But the thing is , the passage of time , because once you have kids with these losers , they think they owned you , using the kids as leverage to plead a pity party!!!

  • JohnPaul Sein August 5, 2016, 12:51 am

    Ok so here is my story.. i have been with my wife for 8 years married for 3 of them.. the first 4 years were torture for me.. she would not get a job nor clean the house nor cook dinner when i got home from a 12 hour shift.. i did all that.. NOW she has a job and so do i but she still doesnt help around the house nor spend time with me.. most of my time lately has been looking up “signs that your marriage is failing.. i want to become a father and im 37 she is 27.. im not getting any younger and she has PCOS. the doctor told me that she needs to lose weight.. but when i ask her to workout with me she refuses.. and when i bring up the subject of losing weight for Health reasons not that im shallow she blows the F up.. we DONT have sex.. 1 a year is sad.. im at the point anymore that her bad outweighs the good.. she is sweet.. from time to time but most of the time she can be callous, she makes fun of me to her friends in front of me .. she is starving her self to lose weight i have tried backing off and letting her find her way.. this is 3 years in the making.. im at the point where im going to give her an ultimatum.. either she starts to choose her health, and her husband which includes stopping smoking and drinking energy drinks.. or im leaving.. 7 years is patient enough in my eyes… or am i being rude?!

  • Incredulous August 15, 2016, 7:49 pm


    I’m a little confused as to why you would get married to someone if, as you say, it was torture for you. Regardless, I can understand how if you both are on different wavelenghts it can be very frustrating for the both of you.

    You obviously have clear ideas about what she should be responsible for and if I were the one supporting both my husband and I, as I was for quite some time, I would also tend to feel as though it’s not entirely my responsibility to keep the house clean, prepare dinner as well as work extended hours – which is what I did find myself doing the majority of my marriage and relationship until I ended up disabled and unable to continue to do so. But, on the flip-side, I also realized how much my husband hated to do housework, he was uncomfortable cooking, he was still in school and for some reason was dragging his feet graduating. I didn’t want to be nagging and instead wanted to be supportive in our relationship, of him, his feelings and his needs.

    In your situation, your wife may not have been working, keeping house and/or cooking due to fatigue, headaches and other symptoms which are associate with her PCOS. It’s pretty difficult to do anything when someone not only feels sick but is also exhausted all of the time.

    I was frustrated by our lack of sex and any form of intimacy in my marriage. In retrospect, I should have initiated a conversation, or many, requesting that we see a counselor, doing my best to put the owness on me as though any issues were mine and I would like try to figure out what I could do to become more comfortable, better communicate, etc. Essentially anything to get him to go with me to open the door so we could start talking and figure out why there was no intimacy in our marriage. Because later on I couldn’t get him to invest anything in our marriage. He had made up his mind that it was over. I know many couples have complaints about one partner desiring sex more/less often than the other partner. I don’t know how many couples are able to actually discuss the root of the issue though to determine if it has to do with something else such as if something psychological is affecting the partner with the lower sex drive, if both partners always had differing sex drives, if they had only ramped up sexually as sort of a honeymoon period or any number of things which could be worked out with the right counselor. And trust me, I know how unappealing it is to consider even going to a counselor. But, the alternative is not fixing the issue and being frustrated (to put it mildly) and letting things get out of control until they end up in a very expensive divorce. (I didn’t even go to court and mine cost $12K for the mediation).

    Anyways, with regards to you, your wife, marriage and especially the question you asked, I do feel as though you are being unfair in several ways. First of all, it’s never fair to give someone an ultimatum. Secondly, it sounds as though you are attempting to use something which you heard the doctor sayagainst your own wife; it’s no wonder she is starving herself, that’s enough to hurt anybody. Third, I’m not entirely surprised that she doesn’t feel like having sex. Not only does she have a medical condition which could be affecting her several ways both physically and emotionally, her husband is also making her feel unattractive. That’s an absolutely horrible feeling.

    It sounds as though BOTH of you have a lot of work to do if you BOTH want to work on your marriage. I would strongly suggest that you sit down together and make a list of things which you both agree on that you want in your marriage. You can make a list of things which you wish each other would do as well as a list of things which you wish each other would not do. But, you will each have to agree as to whether you are ready to share those lists with each other or if you need to wait until you have worked to build each other up some. I think it’s also important for both of you to make a list of things which you like about each other. I’d say love, but at this point the relationship might be so damaged that it might be too difficult to do that.

    If you truly want for your wife to be able to choose you, then you need to give her a reason to be able to choose you. So, you need to work on your relationship with her and show her how you would like for her to be treating by the way in which you treat her. And I don’t mean by cooking, cleaning, investing in her health and earning income. I mean by being sweet to her, talking nicely about her even when she’s not around, showing empathy for her, learning all about PCOS by perhaps joining a support group and talking to people who suffer from it to learn how it can affect them and make them feel physically and emotionally.

    Become the father you want to be now instead of waiting until you have children. The best way to seduce the woman you’re married to is to be genuinely tender, loving, caring, sympathetic and supportive. If you are able to soften your attitude towards her and see her with compassion instead of frustration I have a feeling that she will be able to change her demeanor and will be a lot more receptive towards sex. If you are able to be patient and you honestly can feel empathy for her situation, you’ll unlock the secret to enable her to have a better chance at improving her health. Everything ties together, both of your attitudes, emotions, sexual intimacy, physical health, mental wellbeing, …but you have to work together and again I would urge you to find a good counselor. If you don’t like the first, or second…, counselor you try keep searching until you find someone you both feel comfortable with because they really will help.

    Apologies for the rambling, redundancy and if I come across as sounding harsh against you. I’m not trying to imply that you’re a jerk or anything, I just think you’re feeling as though you’re at the end of your rope and don’t know what else to do.

    Best Wishes


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