“When we communicate in this state, we are truly mean,” writes Ellie Lisitsa in The Four Horsemen: Contempt on The Gottman Institute’s blog about strengthening relationships. “Treating others with disrespect and mocking them with sarcasm are forms of contempt. So are hostile humor, name-calling, mimicking, and/or body language such as eye-rolling and sneering. In whatever form, contempt is poisonous to a relationship because it conveys disgust. It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with him or her.”
I don’t want to sound like I have no sympathy for your boyfriend. Life can be tough, especially in light of thwarted dreams, unrealistic expectations, financial instability, flimsy support networks, and run-of-the-mill insecurities. But not everyone deals with things in the same way; and, whether we like it or not, this stuff matters. There are some people who will give up online dating if one email is not returned or give up on relationships just because the last one went bad. Even if this is somewhat “normal,” it’s certainly not a healthy trait. Not for the anxious/moody person, and not for the poor soul who has to be the strong, patient partner. When your boyfriend is unhappy, it’s only normal to want to pull him out of it, to want to flip a switch in the back of his head to get him from pessimist to optimist. Furthermore, when he’s at his worst internally, that’s also when he’s a terrible boyfriend. He obsesses, stays at home, stews in his own juices, and builds up stories about what’s wrong in the world that may not accord with reality. Not only that, but such a boyfriend has nothing to give to the relationship because he’s always dealing with his own mercurial moods.
Oh, as I read all of these comments, I am struck by how much so many of us are struggling with our relationships. My marriage of 20 years ended last year when my husband decided he was in love with one of his students and wanted to make a life with her. The two of us and our daughter had moved across the world for his temporary job and now I feel used and trapped! When I found out about this (no, he wasn’t honest about it, I found out accidentally)and he said he wanted us to live together as a family until I “got on my feet” and until he figured out what he was doing in this other relationship,I knew I couldn’t do that. I knew it because even when he was supposedly in our marriage, even at the best of times, he was not very giving or open emotionally and quite happy just working. I knew there was no way he could be present in any kind of relationship with me if he was falling in love with someone else!
Too often these women — even the strongest, smartest, most independent of them — weirdly believe that if they inflict enough pain back onto their partners or exact enough control of them, they’ll suddenly get with the program. Instead, the opposite usually happens. Their partners — not feeling loved enough and tired of feeling nagged, controlled, and criticized — do the opposite. They withdraw and tune out. And the cycle of drama and dysfunction only becomes more vicious and protracted.

Me and my husband have been together for almost five years but we have only been married for 6 months. We have a 3 year old and a newborn together. For some reason this pregnancy that I just recently went throuh was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It seems like right when I got pregnant and right when we got married he just started going out and like always hunting all of a sudden when I needed him the most. Everything I say seems to be wrong, he gets defensive no matter what it’s like everyone is out to get him but really everyone is just trying to help him. He drinks every single day and thinks he has no problem, my daughter loves him dearly but I just think I am only staying here for her sake and I know that I should be happy too. I am not sexuall attracted to him what so ever anymore because all he ever does is drink beer and not work half the time and never helps with anything around the house. I am just so done with it all and eveyone I know thinks that I am crazy for even being here at all anymore. I am just so scared of raising two kids on my own because I just feel like I will fail them and it is not their fault that their father doesn’t want to do the right thing and that’s why I am so scared and confuse when it comes to making that final decision. Ugh it is just so hard I am in my twenties and just feel so helpless!!!!
We’ve been married 8 years. Suddenly his dreams switch 180 and I’m to blame when they don’t come true. From wanting to settle down and be a farmer now he suddenly wants to become an Evangelist, with us having 5 kids in tow. Now I am a very religious woman, but this 180 has sent me for a loop. All we’ve talked about is having our own place, and now he tells me that this has always been his dream and I’m holding him back. I can make it without him, but I feel like I owe it to the kids to keep going. There are times I don’t want to even look at him, and times I want to show him the door. I know marriage isn’t based on love, it’s a commitment between two people. But I’m tired of being blamed for everything going wrong in our lives, and I’m tired of our kids seeing how he treats me. Do I think our marriage is over? Yeah, it’s been over quite a while. Am I gonna hang for the kids? Yeah, gonna do that too. See, what some of you don’t get is that after you have kids, it’s not about you anymore. They didn’t ask to be created, to be born, but here they are. It’s not about how you feel or he feels or she feels, it’s about how can you get along together for the kids sake. Maybe separate bedrooms or even something more than that, but the kids come first in a marriage. Your life is not your own anymore. Grow up, grow a set, get over it and get on with life. The kids are the most important thing, not anything else.
HELP HELP >>> Hi I got married in Aug 2012, We never communicated prior to our wedding regarding future plans for our lives. We have a baby now and my husband has done everything possible for paying for everything, We was living in his sister house and his sister and mother was living in his house.So it is now that we need to move back to his house and also take care of his mother and I accepted and taken the responsibilty with my husband. I did however tell my husband that there will need to be conditions layed down before I move to his mother that she needs to allow me to take care of the household. So when my husband proposed the conditions to her and she was not happy , he called them to discuss the situation and when the sister, mother and brother came they rant and raved and ended up beating me. My husband didnt even stand up for me, I just held my baby while they beat me, and to a drinking glass and threw at me.My husband ended up with the astma attack and asked them to leave. he seemed upset with them but after a day or he was back on speaking terms with them, He still communicates and call them but still has not asked them to come apologise to me… He now decided to let his mum stay in the house ( which we will be paying ) and we going to look for place to rent , a cottage perhaps:( I am wondering whether I should leave him , whether this marraige is worth it???? please let me know if I am doing the right thing, Clearly he love his mother more than me and my child.
Changing how you respond involves taking a step back, and carefully considering what to say and do. I found it helpful to talk to a counselor, because I didn’t know what my “triggers” where, and how my behavior affected my husband. If you need help with your marriage, I encourage you to talk to a counselor, and get an objective and balanced perspective.
Me and my husband are best friends/soulmates. We have been married for 16 years and talk about things all the time. To my horror a few weeks ago i found out that he did not go on the business trip that he told me he was going on, he checked into a hotel and spent a couple of nights on his own, he worked during the day, to think about his future. He did not expect me to find out, he wanted to look at his life to see if he needed to change anything in it, life’s too short and all that. You can imagine i was mortified and have found it really hard to believe him now, i feel i am constantly checking up on him, asking him questions. He goes out once a week with his friends and comes in at 2am, i have asked him if there is anyone else and he says no, why do i jump to that conclusion he says. We have been really good friends and confidents but the love life has not been really there for years now, i have talked to him about it and he said that if both of us are happy about the lack of sex then that is fine. To be honest, i lost my mojo years ago too, only occasionally i feel like it, if i initiate sex, he never turns me away but he never initiates it ever himself. How long do i carry on with the questions/mistrust etc? It is tearing me apart, i feel like i am obsessed with where he is and who he is with, he knows i am upset about it but still goes out regardless. We do go out as a couple on other nights too.
You mentioned someone going through a period of suffering in their life that they need time to get through (so this suffering is not permanent) and individuals who might have frequent dips in mood. I have a question about individuals who have a condition they have been affected by for a long time and will probably stay with them for the rest of their life. My mother has had what appears to me to be borderline personality disorder and/or bipolar disorder for the past 23 years since I was born. How much responsibility is placed on the person for their behavior who has difficulty controlling their moods? My mother can obviously control her behavior around strangers (maybe she is around strangers in times of better mood), but I see her take out her emotions, problems, aggressions in private on her caregivers (my grandfather and grandmother). She is not able to take responsibility for her actions at all and is not expected to by her caregivers. Is this appropriate? Is it appropriate to forgive her behavior in every instance? Or to hold her accountable for her actions? Should her rude behavior, explosive emotions, inability to listen be excused as something she has no control over? Or should the person be held accountable for certain aspects of her behavior? This is difficult for me to deal with because my emotions in response to her behavior when I am around her get discounted by my grandparents because they use the model where she "is not able to control herself at all so she must be forgiven in all circumstances". Is this model of forgiving every circumstance appropriate? Thank your for your response.
Sharing duties is important in a relationship, but only working is not what makes a relationship a good one. If you are in a relationship with a man, it is essential that you not only share responsibility with him but also some pleasures. House, work, children - all this can be overwhelming for both of you, so find a moment to spend it together. You can go to the restaurant, watch a movie or play a board game. Allow yourself once to take a break from thinking about all around and to spend some time only with yourself.
To my fiance’ bills do not seem to be prioritized. I’ve seen at least 20 cell phones bought in the 7 years we have been together, b ecause she doesnt like this one or that. The preschool our child attends already informed us that she is behind in some skills but how can I try my best to get her to learn when mommy could care less? I’ve spoken to friends and relatives on both sides of the family and because mommy doesn’t want to hear the truth from others, she will not only alienate herself but I and my daughter from everyone. At one point in time about a year ago, we lived in a motel room, with no family to turn to except one. And now she is beginning to alienate us from this person too. I’m at wits end. I have a disability but it does not hinder me from shopping cooking cleaning or tending to my daughters needs. If mommy shops, its all garbage food. The school bus stop is a block away; she wont walk our child down; I have to drive her. She doesnt clean house very often. I have problems with my legs so my mobility is limited at times but I will stand in the kitchen n cook, or spend an hour or more shopping or walk my child to the bus despite my pain. Why? Because my daughter comes first in my eyes, always had and always will.
What does your post have to do with having a moody bf? Do you have a bf? I don’t think so because  I sense a veiled attempt to relay that you think the guy you mention should dump his gf for you. I wonder what would happen if he did? Maybe you’d be subject to whatever treatment she’s getting, then you’d be sorry. Or at least discover the empathy for gf that you’re lacking now.
In my 20's I married two separate times (with the prerequisite of no children desired) and had my husbands "kid clocks" go off...it ruined our marriages. Their resentment toward me was overwhelming. We went to counseling, one became violent. I divorced each and they went on to have 1 child each. We are still on good terms and although it hurt I have no regrets.
I have been married for 51 years. I have 3 children and 4 beautiful grandsons. I have worked from the time I have been 5 and went in business for myself after quitting school at 16 and through through the years made a fine living and gave my family what I never had,spoiling them for the most part. When things changed was prior to having our children after marriage, by the way my wife and I courted for 3 years and never had sex. My wife is a very pretty women then and now at 68. I use to drink at times and that would cause to her to say I was drunk weather I had one drink or 10. My goal in life has always been to provide for my family and now to make sure that when I die my wife will be able to live without having to work, and that is place with a secure income not a lot but one she will live a decent life.
“I want out of my marriage and can’t figure out why I can’t just be happy with this great guy,” says Donna on How to Live With a Husband You Wish You Never Married. “My relationship is safe and comfortable; he’s my best friend. But at what point is he supposed to move beyond my best friend and be my partner? I’m not sure we’ve ever had that connection that seems so vital to me. He disagrees. It would almost be easier if I had tangible reasons for wanting to leave (abuse, anger, neglect). All I have is saying that I’m just unhappy even though he’s a great guy. He doesn’t take care of himself like I wish he would, but he’s still a good husband. I feel like such a failure because I can’t just be happy with what I have.”
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.
We all have our ways of dealing with stress, and for some of us, we play video games, some of us go hiking with our friends and some of us drink a lot of coffee. As long as he is not hurting himself or anyone else, let him work things out on his own, and just be a supportive friend. You’re more likely to receive the same treatment when you go through changes too.
I’m the type of person to over-analyze and question everything in life. I realize I cannot change my boyfriend’s sense of humor. I’m not getting any younger and hate the thought of breaking off an otherwise great relationship. The stress on me from constantly questioning a future decision to marry my boyfriend is not helpful toward furthering what could be an amazing relationship. How do I find a way to shake this nagging feeling that marrying him may be a wrong decision because of our humor gap? Or is this difference in our senses of humor a deal breaker? Thank you for a new perspective. –Kelly

something I forgot to add about how I made myself better was focusing on smaller accomplishments. I can't save the world, but I can make my little corner of the community better. I also focused more on not trying to make others happy in and of itself. Others had expectations for me, but those were not mine. I stopped caring so much about what others defined as success. Especially, what family wanted from me. I am /r/childfree, and happy about it. It took a while for my parents to realize they were not getting grandchildren from me, and for them to be OK with it. No guilt on my part.
I have been married for 16 years now and finally at my wits end with my wife. I do about 90% of the cooking, finances, cleaning, yardwork, grocery shopping, house/car maintenance, mowing, flowerbeds, helping kids with homework, etc. You get the picture. She is a slob, depressed and chooses to do nothing most of the time around the house (unless it is reading a book or playing video games—DUH!) although she does work full time and we have 2 children whom I love dearly. I am so tired of not getting the help I deserve from her. Did I mention that I worked on my Master’s degree and PhD also while working full time? She chose not to finish college and doesn’t want to go back…too much work for her I guess? I average around 100 hours per week (due to my PhD) and she works 40. Yet I get to do all the above items….I went into this marriage as a 50/50 split to share responsibilities and committments yet get very little from her at all. Have you ever fell asleep standing up, leaning over a dryer at 2 am because your partner wouldn’t do the laundry but she would read a book??? A romance novel to boot???? I have left the bathroom in our Master bedroom go uncleaned for the last 9 months to see if she would clean it….not a chance…she wiped out the sink and the toilet seat with a cleaning wipe and that was it. Amazingly it is OK with her. She doesn’t get dirty = germs which = people get sick more often. Her clothes are piled all over the room, she will walk out of the kitchen without thinking of doing the dishes or even wiping the counter after she messes it up. The new car we bought is constantly a disaster (so is our home) and she NEVER attempts to clean it, wax it or even take care of it. It is just over and over the same thing. I usually have to get up the next morning early and clean up everything prior to feeding my kids–which she won’t do most times “find yourself something to eat” is what normally comes out of her mouth. Weekends are a terror to me….she stays in bed until 9 or 10 am and watches TV most of the day…while I clean, have to work at the University, mow, shovel snow, etc. Can you believe what a completely non-caring self-centered individual she is?? This is the kind of lunacy that I have put up with for the last 16+ years and I am just so done with this. I am worried about my kids, whom I love dearly, and how this will impact them as well as the house being unfinished and not ready to sell yet – which it will most likely have to be since I sunk a large part of my assets into it for the down payment (she added none of her money for it). She is depressed but I am the one that is always to blame and I am SOOOO tired of it. Sex is infrequent if ever (have went as long as 8 months without her doing anything and we now are at 3 months and counting, once a month lately is a miracle)…We see a marriage counselor but that is just fingering pointing at me again and again and again. She tries a little to change but goes right back to her old habits very quickly. She never completes the change. What am I supposed to do and where can I find a woman who is caring, respectful, and wants a husband who will share the burden 50/50, not complain about it, is active, highly intelligent and deeply cares about a partner that they are in love with???? I am to the point that I have stopped caring about her and rarely have anything positive to say about her, to her or for her. I have lost my sex drive for her and really don’t care to have sex with her anymore. She has caused so much hurt and anxiety with her “not doing it ” attitude (I realize that this is linked to the depression also – which is permanent post partum and will most likely never get any better). I am the one with the “problem” —HUH???? OMG I will go insane if I hear that again at the counselors office. What can I do? All I want is a nice, caring, share the burden with me, wife that appreciates a good relationship and is willing to care about the family, house and us???? I apologize for the poor grammar, spelling errors and the associated but I am just so fed up with it!!!
I am a man and have gone through the video game addiciton. I went there to the game as an escape or catharsis from another crisis in my life. We all get into he said she said this and that trying to convince ourselves its the others fault. Look deep within for your own criticism of self as well as your spouse. Own up to how you feel and communicate with him. Stooping low and doing the same thing he is doing your own way is the surest way to ensure failure. I have blown it this way too. Further a word of caution, beware the criticism of others toward your spouse in your external relationships, less they influence the fate of your internal relationship. We all want to bounce our situation off of other Neutral pseduocounselors. Don’t fall into the trap of believing for a second you can provide that objective view for them to evaluate. It doesnt hurt to talk. Just communicate. If it fails at least you have tried.
No stress to look good all the time. You could stress out about how you look and let a man judge you for what you wear or what you look like without makeup. Or, you could say screw it and realize how happy you are wearing whatever the hell you want. Without a man, you could spend a week in the same clothes without a shower if you want. I don’t recommend that, but you get what I mean. You get to dress for you, not someone else.
"Often -- but not always -- women nag because men don’t follow through. How many times have you had a conversation about doing something and he commits to doing it and never follows through? Often, I'm guessing," she said. "Women feel caught in the middle: You continue to try and talk to him and address the issue but it goes nowhere. He interprets your request as nagging. You want to believe him but his promises go unfulfilled."
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."
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