February 12, 2001 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
I need to know what you think, because I really don't know what to do.
Bill & I will be married 22 years in June. He is 47, I'm 44. The first 20 years were great. We have 3 children, 21, 20, 18. As you can see the first 20 years evolved around our children. I don't have any complaint, and neither does he that our 20 years were built around the family. We have never spent our married life except for the first 9 months of marriage (which was wonderful) without children .
All we do now is work, eat, sleep, pay bills, and entertain ourselves with our kids, and their friends. We moved 10 years ago, and never really developed friendships where we now live. Bill doesn't seem to be interested in me. I'm starting to wonder, do I want to stay with him, and not be cared about.
He still says he loves me, he kisses me hello and good night, but it lacks sincerity. Do we love each other because of the many years we have together, and we feel like we are each others family. All I want him to do is Love me, laugh with me, enjoy my company, but I don't know what can be done to see if he can do this with me. I keep avoiding this whole thing, hoping it will go away, and we can once again feel like best friends.
I miss him so much!! I hope you can guide me, because I need to stop feeling soooo SAD ! We went to Counseling for a total of about 10 sessions, we bought a small boat, which was something we both always wanted, things were improving and he didn't think we needed counseling anymore (my thoughts were that it was just a start, and I wanted to continue with the counseling because we needed to improve on our communication skills, but we didn't continue, and 3 months later we started drifting apart).
Anyway, he doesn't think counseling can help us because we tried it once, so he won't go back. We have a wonderful loving family, He is in a advancing career, I'm in a job of 10 years I don't care for, but have remained because financially it would be too difficult for the family for me to leave, so I feel stuck.
If you can please let me know what you think and what the next step is ASAP I would really appreciate it.
You are not only feeling stuck, you are stuck because you feel completely powerless over your situation. Your husband knows that you aren't going anywhere, so he has no impetus to be more responsive to you. If your marriage is going to improve, you are going to need to find your power.
You are going to need to do whatever you must in order to feel that you can and will leave if your needs aren't met. How you get to this point is up to you. Do you need to go back to school? Get a better job? Whatever it is, start doing it. When a husband senses that his wife is working toward her independence, he usually begins to change.
When your husband knows that you mean business, he will get down to business and work on the relationship and keeping you. Until then, he will coast. Keep in mind that the more you whine, nag, beg and complain about your needs not being met, the more you insure that they won't ever be met. Nagging and ragging causes him to feel guilty and angry. No one feels like being giving when he's angry.
I'm not saying that you aren't entitled feel mad at him for his lack of responsiveness. I am simply saying that the method you are using to attempt to get your needs met is keeping you empty. When you feel stronger, then you will feel more willing to assert yourself and your needs. You won't beg him to return to couples therapy, you will tell him that he needs to join you in working on improving this marriage.
When you are strong and mean business, he will come with you. You also need to become aware of how dependent you feel in life and in relationship to him. When you talk about wanting to have fun and have your friend back, you are passively waiting for him to give you fun and friendship.Instead of waiting for him, why don't you initiate what you want?
You schedule something fun and enjoyable and invite him. If he refuses to join you, then go have fun yourself. I have the sense that you and your husband are locked in a power struggle. The more you rag and nag him for not meeting your needs, the angrier and more withholding he gets. You feel more and more deprived and nag more. In order to break this deadlock, you need to change your tune by getting on with your life, having fun with or without him, and claiming your power.
Once you start to shift, you will be amazed at how he steps up to the plate!
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