Approach him to ask him what’s up. He may tell you nothing is wrong at first. Don’t push him but instead give him a peck on the cheek, smile, give him a squeeze on the arm and tell him that you are around if he wants to talk about it. Let him also know that if he wants to talk about it that you will try not to get upset if it’s something that he believes you will become upset about.
You're in a tough spot. The thing about enabling behavior is that superficially it makes things easier, so people who enable remain attached to doing it. If you decide you shouldn't enable your mom's behavior (and I'm in no position to judge one way or another) it seems to me the key would be becoming confident enough in that decision (out of a genuine and well-considered belief that enabling her behavior isn't in her or your best interests) that you simply—without ever needing to discuss it—stop enabling her behavior. Such a change would of course be met with resistance that you'd need to be prepared for, which is why you must first be absolutely convinced your decision is the right one and then calmly stick to your guns (keeping your own emotions at bay would be key). Good luck.
"Sometimes you just have to ask. Instead of discussing their unhappiness, people may let conflicts and resentments fester. Keeping silent about a perceived inequity or accepting behaviors over and over that are troubling may seem like one is being a good sport or taking the good with the bad. But speaking up is the only way to maintain true intimacy and closeness." —Singer
Wow. He cheated,not once but twice. We have been married it would have been 6 years 8/25. I do not know for sure what happened except that I went back to school, and could not give the 100% attention I always gave. I do get snappy when I cant meet his needs, he said this was part o it. But I have been a loving and dedicated wife partner for our entire relationship, I always was able to let him know when something bothered me. But he couldent come to me, he sought attention and help from anther, when she rejected him he ran to another to spite her, neither got hurt in the process, just me. He came back 3 times, and left just as fast. Now he asked for a devorce, in a letter, not even face to face. Coward. I deserved better
So, divorce is the logical exit, kids or not for both of us. It has been the case for at least 8 years. I gave it my best shot and I choose to believe she made an effort too. It just seemed to be doomed in the end. We will be going our separate ways soon. The children are aware of the difficulties and have been told of what is coming. They seem settled with the idea although they will notice lifestyle changes when I move out.
Remember when you and your husband first starting dating? You were the carefree woman who laughed and flirted? Life's stress can really take a toll on a relationship, and sometimes we forget to laugh. Flirt with your husband. Tell stupid jokes. Reminisce about funny things that happened. Life can't always be fun and games, but let it be sometimes. Keep the humor going between the two of you and keep things funny and fun.
Initially I did not tell my daughter why we were separating but when I did tell her, she seemed relieved and said we “fought all the time” which I don’t think was true but there was tension. Her father wanted to pretend that it was a mutual decision & we would still be good friends – I tried this for awhile but realized she needed to know why I was so particulalry upset by the whole thing and I told her. I want her to know that these things happen because of choices we make and the devestation that they cause. I want her to be able to make other, better choices in her relationships. And believe this is only possible if she confronts them honestly.
I have a husband who has been hard to please. We have been married for 20+ years. Everything I do has an "ulterior" motive in his mind. I don't think I can even get into the whole of this to give anyone a good perspective of what I am dealing with. He was married to a woman for maybe 2-3 months. I'm not sure why he married her as she cheated on him before they were married and he still married her - then shortly after they got married she cheated again and he kicked her out. After they were split for like 2 years we started dating and got married. He has really old-fashioned thinking which at times is nice and at times it is very stressful. Anyway - if I even talk to another man he gets a little ridiculous. Recently we had a friend who lost a spouse and our children were really good friends. They (the children) have been over a lot since that happened and my husband has blown that whole thing into he is interested in me. To the point of starting arguments about it in the middle of the night. when I am sound asleep - he will wake me up - what's wrong - I know there is something wrong. I can't even talk to him anymore - even social media posts he twists into a new dimension of meaning something entirely different. I am probably going to block him from my social media posts to put a stop to that. I walk on eggshells. He gets my phone and reads my text messages and has found nothing - but still swears there is something there. The way he thinks is the only right way and if you try to show him something different it can often make him angry. I feel like a caged bird and I feel like he is smothering me and the whole situation is making me very unhappy. I try to be happy even when things are going wrong - I deal with it and move on. He complains and puts everyone around him down and blames them even if they had nothing to do with it. He can control himself around his own family and around people he thinks a lot of. He will brag us up to those people, but if my Mom is around or if someone he has decided he doesn't care for is around he is downright hurtful and rude. What is odd - is it's ok if he does it - but if you would turn around and do the same - he would be telling you about it. He has good qualities - he is a hard worker and a good provider. And what I have just explained is just a mild overview, nowhere near a thorough explanation. My main question is how do you give yourself space from a person like this when you are married with children still at home living in the same home? I am self-employed but I don't feel I can support myself without getting a job which would probably mean I would need to quit my business as I would not be readily available for appointments. I love your advice - and I think it would work great for a more removed relative or friend - but how do you make it work for someone you live with who seems at times irrational.
I’ve tried three approaches. 1) Loving, supportive husband offering ‘it’s okay, try again’ attitude for quite a while. Result: She is happy, I’m not b/c things don’t get done. 2) Ignore how bad it is. Result: She is fine, I’m not. Things don’t get done. 3) I communicate how she is not measuring up to her responsibilities. Result: She either gets extremely defensive, mad, or says ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ Eventually we do and SOMETIMES she accepts and things get better. And when I say better, I mean I set SMALL goals for her in hopes she’ll master them to help her to new ones. She’ll do those small goals for a week or two, month max. Example is when you sweep you have to put the stuff you sweep into the trash and not just leave it in a pile for months. But inevitably, she returns to her base behavior. She suggested therapy to help her move away from her abused past so we agreed to pay out for a year of it. Now she’s not in it and has basically dismissed the goals/rules the counselor told her to keep. When we talk about any issues in our marriage she gets extremely mad and defensive. I’m not a perfect man and am open to criticism and self-improvement, but I provide for my family the best I can, keep them safe, and am trying to help. Frankly, I don’t feel like she’s pulling her own weight. If she knows she’s in trouble or did nothing that day, she’ll try to hide that fact by various means. Lies, kisses, sex, playing ignorance, etc… Sometimes I feel like our ‘marriage’ was a means to an end b/c I am nice and she knew I could provide for her so she made up a personality to escape the hell hole she came from (and it was a hell hole) but now reverted to a past self. What do I do? I thought a husband and wife were supposed to ‘work’ together and put the needs of the other above themselves. Any guidance would be appreciated.
Evan, I’m de-lurking to say this post is BRILLIANT. Thank you a million times over for this! I’ve been feeling sad since dumping a moody guy last month, and this is just what I needed to hear. You’ve helped me feel so much better about my decision. I hear a lot of my male friends complain about dating women who are “downers,” but rarely do I hear my female friends complain about moody men, so I was torturing myself about dumping this guy. I wanted to believe he’d snap out of it, but he didn’t, so… goodbye and good luck to him. Thank you, Evan, for your perspective as someone who has “been there,” and thank you for reminding women that we deserve better.
@rollercoaster_love,seems he is on top of the introvert chart.People who dont talk so much snap ones in a while.This also happens to highly intelligent introverts.They assume you will be smart enough to know the right things to do without making so much noise about it.Sometimes they may be wrong because like you rightly said “you are not a MINDREADER”
Have you thought about individual or couples counseling? Even if your husband refuses to go, it’s a great way for you to figure out what you should do and if you can help him see how serious your marriage issues are right now. Talking to a counselor — even without your husband present — can be a great way to see things clearly and objectively. Which, in turn, can help you decide whether your marriage is over or just going through a rough stage.
My ex-husband had a long term affair with a woman from work for several years. He had a baby with another women when we were only married for two years. He never cooked or cleaned until a coworker started cooking lunch for me, after 20 years of marriage, no matter how often I asked him. Then he accused me of having an affair with the coworker who prepared lunch for me and told all of our friends that I was having an affair. He put antifreeze in the water bottle I keep in the refrigerator to drink after my walk. When I confronted him he grabbed the water bottle out of my hand and the antifreeze and left the house. When he came back he did not have my water bottle or the antifreeze and told me no one would ever believe me. Many times I received calls from work or from his sister wondering where he was and lecturing me on how he was being irresponsible by consistently being absent when he was supposed to be there. He never gave me or the kids a gift for Christmas or our birthdays and charged lingerie from Victoria Secrets to our joint account. He also took all the money saved from our 20 year marriage and put in a his own personal account. He took the money from our brokerage account as well and I was unable to find it. He took all the money from our kids college funds and spent it. I would say these were pretty good signs that the marriage was over before it even started. It was a shame it took me 20 years to wise up.
my husband and i have been married for nearly 5 years and for the past year things have been awful. he is unemployed and drinks all the time. he puts his friends and social life above what is best for us. since we have been together, he has blown all of our savings and now we are living on next to nothing. he doesn’t seem to care at all about our financial situation or how we can fix it…just wants to hang out with his friends and drink. we have two small children that i do 90% of everything for, while working, trying to take care of the house and the budget. every time i bring up our relationship and how we should work on things, he just says that we need a vacation and that we have no problems. i could talk to him until i’m blue in the face about our issues and he just brushes it off or says he doesn’t care how i feel. the thought of sex with him honestly disgusts me at this point. i am not attracted to him at all anymore. i don’t know what to do. a part of me still loves him very much but i have lost almost all respect for him. please help me figure out what to do. thank you.
I don't think that you're suggestions are going to be too popular....we have a throw away society. Anything that doesn't fit or work as expected is junked right away and replaced, relationships included. And taking kids into account? Forget about it! It seems like they are the very last ones to be thought of by a party seeking divorce, thought that could only just that, a seeming. People in our culture are taught to be very self-centered now-a-days, that ones personal happiness is all that counts.
As you probably see, sometimes it is worth to let go or to reflect on your own behavior. Although women are mostly called the queens of drama and the ones who search for problems, there are many aspects that bother men in a relationship as well. And since the relationship should be fulfilling, motivating and happy for each partner, remember about mutual concern, acceptance, and commitment.
Peter I agree. Infidelity is a symptom and not a cause. Any good relationship is built on communication. For those guys out there who think that your wife’s complaints about “we don’t communicate” or “you don’t understand” are just traits of a woman, go home tonight and find out were the hell things went wrong – FAST. If she has given up on trying to communicate with you, this is your sign. Without communication, your marriage is a ticking time bomb – because every storm becomes more difficult to weather and when the big one hits, you won’t be able to put things back together. A lack of communication ultimately divides a couple and they seek out those who do communicate with and understand them. I cheated on my wife (via text) while she was really sick – I let my jealousy of her supportive friends blind me to everything which should have been important – like focusing on my wife. As a result, my wife fell in love with her supportive friend and is now on the way out the door. She is trying to give me a chance, but our communication was so poor that all I could do is hurt her more as I continued to fix all the wrong things. My family is gone. My life is over. I cannot forgive myself. I want to kill myself. Please don’t learn from my mistakes. Everyday I wake up, I search for reasons to stay alive, but I am running low on excuses – my current motivation is that I would feel like such a coward for not manning up to the consequences of the hurt I put her through and I cannot leave my son. She is all that I have known for the last 10 years. I love her soo much. I love my son soo much. She deserved soo much better. Please don’t learn from my mistakes.
Hi and thanks for your site. I love it! I’ve been married going on 3 months but have been with my husband for 2 years prior to marriage. I don’t know where to begin. I feel like I am going crazy and I don’t know what to do. I feel that my husband is a good man but we have a lot of issues to work on. I came from an abusive household but my husband didn’t. we both very bad tempers and there has been a lot of mean words said and physical violence on both of our parts. Whenever we argue my husband always brings up my childhood to deflect what it is that I have a problem with even though I’ve asked him not to do this. For example, he works long hours 6 days a week while I go to school 5 days a week 6 hours a day and do all of the household chores including laundry, cleaning, dishes, grocery shopping , and I always have a hot meal prepared for him when he gets home plus getting up early in the morning to make him breakfast and a lunch for work. He does absolutely nothing but work. On his day off he spend 12-16 hours playing videogames. When I asked him when we would spend time together he told me that he wanted to have fun and was playing the game. I asked if he meant that playing a videogame was more fun than hanging out with me and he said yes. Then he proceeded to put me down for not doing the laundry in a timely manner.
But even if it’s just moodiness, resilience is such a key and under-discussed point for a long-term relationship. Life and relationships aren’t always easy. What’s going to happen in the future when your toddler goes through the Terrible Twos, or money is tight, or someone goes through a rough career transition? While I fully acknowledge some people need space to process stress, but if you’re in a partnership, you can’t just sequester yourself away for a few days and leave your partner possibly high and dry with the mess. If Katie’s boyfriend doesn’t change — and I think she needs to make that assumption, judging from her letter — is this acceptable to her? Only she can make that call, but it sounds like it’s not.
Before I go any further, allow me to acknowledge a few things: unhappy and moody are not exactly the same. “Moody” sounds temporary, where “unhappy” is chronic. Then again, if your boyfriend consistently finds himself in a bad mood, I’m not sure how different it is from being unhappy. If it sounds like I’m familiar with the condition, it’s because, from 20-30 years old, I was always somewhere between unhappy/moody/anxious. I dated a LOT in that time and while there were many stretches where I could get by on charm, I could never mask my perpetual dissatisfaction with my career. Women would take a chance on me, but either I was a total downer or I was so unhappy that I’d choose an unsuitable woman just because she was there. Both are recipes for failed relationships.
All of these answers apply to both genders, but you are so angry you can’t see past the pronouns in the article. You’ve taken a practical choice, this website is aimed at women, as other websites are aimed at men, and turned into a slight against you. If you do that with a website then it’s a safe bet you do that in your personal relationships as well, this is really going to hurt your chances of being able to successfully communicate what’s hurting you to your partner. When you approach someone in anger it immediately creates defensiveness, an urge to fend off, repulse, and retaliate. Being calm and flexible is not the same thing as being passive, you can disagree and still see smokeless point (regardless of whether or not that point is valid). Approach your feelings, problems, and arguments calm and collected. This means you need to have examined and accepted your own flaws first, and be able to weather the invective that will be thrown at you. You also need to remain on point, which is hard when you feel like a big list of wrongs have been perpetrated. It seems that the big thing for you is that your wife doesn’t respect your time, she might not know she does that ( My family is old world and thinks it’s shameful for a woman to work and that it’s disrespectful for her husband not to provide as much as possible). I try thinking about it first from the defensive perspective of the other person first, “its your fault because”, “I may be bad but your worse”, etc, it’s easy because we all have those thoughts when we feel we are being attacked. My husband used to have temper tantrums at first, then he started really listening and we resolve things. Now, he uses my own approach on me when my hackles are raised!
Klapow also told me that some men have a hard time realizing that in successful marriages, people continue to evolve and change but within the context of someone else. "Men often want to go about life at their pace. Learn, grow, change (or not change) as individuals," he explained. "What they don't understand is that their growth or lack thereof has a direct impact on their partner. Often men find themselves being forced to finally grow up and they don't like it. They love their wives but they want their lives to be the same."