Question: Dear Luise: I’ve been with my husband for about 7 years now and we have a wonderful 3 year-old daughter. We’d always had our problems but now more than ever I feel alone and like a failure. I’ve been stressed with working at a physically and emotionally stressful job and doing mandatory overtime and taking care of my daughter who gets sick very often and doing finances and everything else I have to do. I love my husband but at the same time he’s like a 48 year-old boy. I feel that I cannot rely on him to do things right, not forget, and be initiative. And when I confront him he says that I’m never happy and there’s no pleasing me. But in my eyes the fact is I want my man to sweep me off my feet. I want him to want to please me and impress me and show how much I matter to him. My husband says he loves me but at this point I don’t believe it anymore.
Couple of weeks ago I broke down crying and hitting myself and telling him I wanted to be dead. He helped in the kitchen that weekend and that was it. He hasn’t come and talked to me to see how I feel and hug me and give me hope.
What I say does not matter, I don’t matter. I’ve failed my marriage and lost his respect. Please tell me how to fix this mess, and be a woman that her husband wants to spend time with over the dog and cares for what she needs. Thanks, K.
Answer: Dear K.: We marry “unknowns.” No one really has any idea who his/her spouse will grow up to be. Unfortunately, from the letters I get it looks like many men don’t grow up, for whatever reason. They want a playmate and even sometimes a “mom”. Responsibility, emotional support and mature partnership may be things their role models didn’t teach them because they simply didn’t know about all of that themselves. When I married, very young, my husband felt his job was to work hard, come straight home, never gamble, drink or look at other women and maintain the house and yard. He did all of those things well but/and it never entered his head to check and see what I did and if the division of labor was equal or fair. Also, how I felt, what I thought, the communication and connection that I needed was of no interest to him at all. I was exhausted and unhappy and he had no idea why. He didn’t even want to know why. He just wanted me to “tote that barge, lift that bale”, and shut up. He was doing his best, to his way of thinking, and I think that was true from his perspective. My best looked awful because there was just no way I could carry it all with so little support.
Your husband isn’t going to be any different. He probably doesn’t have a clue what you want or why you’re unhappy. It’s not in his frame of reference. He can’t be anyone else, at least not for very long. And while you are getting very tired of having him be how he is, he is probably having a similar experience of you.
If you stay, you are going to have to let go of casting yourself in the role of a failure and see yourself, instead, as living in an incompatible relationship. Were you once a fun loving, carefree, kid? Your husband may wonder where you went! He just doesn’t get it…that you had to grow up, learn to work like a horse around the clock, care for your child, juggle the finances and nurture everyone around you. It has changed you. However, he has either chosen not to do the same or he’s not capable of it. So, he’s the same…a kid, wondering why it’s no longer fun.
All of the changes will have to come from you. He’s not interested. You may want to see a counselor on your own to help you work through this and the decisions you will have to make to either stay or go. You need an advocate. Blessings, Luise