Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
Thanks to writing to JA... I hope you're doing well in beautiful New Zealand!
I'm sorry to hear of your problems with your husband. I respect your desire to explore options that will be helpful to you in your situation - and your realization that this has to be "for you" and not for him.
I might recommend Kemp & Kemp's book, "Older Couples: New Romances..." although their focus on getting started in a new "senior relationship" rather than maintaining an existing one may not help. On the other hand, it might also inspire you to consider leaving your husband as there can be many opportunities for happiness outside of your relationship with him.
Baruch's "Love Stories in Later Life" may well be of this same variety - but also offers a slightly more researched side of couplehood and romance in later years. I understand that both are good reads - and have been recommended to me by some older clients with whom I work.
Fundamentally, I believe I *have* to agree with the psychiatrist you saw several years ago: treatment for those who don't want (or believe in) treatment doesn't work. While I applaud your willingness to explore couples counseling, I don't believe you will find the seeds will find purchase in the arid soil of what you describe as your current relationship.
Randy Carlson's book, "Starved for Affection" addresses the need you express for basic respect and affection from your husband. Eggerich's "Love and Respect" sounds closer to what may be happening in your relationship currently - your need for love and his need for respect.
We should understand that, in all likelihood, your husband's inability or unwillingness to express love or affection likely reflects his own feelings of ill will, sadness, or loss in or around his own life. In short, he is suffering from some sort of psychological malady - and (either through active choice or through long-standing habit) takes it out on you. Whether that malady is a diagnosable disorder is unclear (it would be unethical to diagnose, 3rd-party, over the Pacific Ocean, and on the internet!)... it may simply represent poor adjustment to this phase of his development. We all keep growing and developing, as you well know. He may well be having the senior-version of "growing pains."
This is not, of course, to underestimate either of your pain. Your posting suggests that what he does (or doesn't do) around the house is very hurtful to you. Moreover, his own pain is likely significant - and may be fueled by fear, expressed as anger and "distance" from you. You suggest that this pattern of behavior may be long-standing, which suggests some possible underlying characterological issues - but I prefer to frame it as a habit. Yes, a long-standing and pervasive one - but habits can always be changed.
I would encourage you to strongly consider taking further steps to take care of yourself if, as you suggest, he is unable to do so... whether financially, emotionally, sexually, or socially. This would certainly involve expanding and relying upon your social support network (fellow quilters, genealogists, friends, family) and possibly expanding it to include others. While you indicate that you might not be ready to explore another relationship - consider what you suggest - you are attractive and intelligent. If you feel you wouldn't be an "A-Number-One-Catch" for somebody out there, you might be starting to believe the explicit and implicit messages he is communicating to you. You deserve better than that!
Besides your social support network, I believe it may be time to consider legal advice. You suggest that your husband is experiencing some financial distress. Does this have the potential to involve you and your financial solvency in the future? This alone should make you consider what steps should be taken to secure your future (or current) retirement and plans for the future. A lawyer might also be needed in the event you decide that a formal dissolution of the marriage is in order. You might also want to consider some individual counseling with a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) to help you undo some of the damage you have experienced and to reassert your feelings of self-worth and esteem. S/he may also be helpful in encouraging you to see that you still have a wonderful life ahead of you - whether with him or without him.
I wish I could give you a ray of hope that would help to change your husband. Perhaps one of the authors/books I suggested may prove helpful in that regard. I fundamentally believe that you, Janet, need to find ways to take care of yourself. It seems abundantly clear that your husband is unable and/or unwilling to provide the love and affection you need and deserve. Your next steps, I would think, would be to find ways to find that OUTSIDE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Should you choose to stay with him, continue to establish those personal boundaries so that his "illness" (whatever it may be) doesn't hurt you more than it already has.
I *do* wish you (and your husband) the best of luck. I hope that you will consider some of the suggestions I've made here to rally your resources to take care of yourself.
Thanks. <PLEASE CLICK ACCEPT>