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Mina
Mina, Clinical Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Working as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist in NHS. Experience in both children and adults
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do you answer relationship questions?

My husband and I have been together 6 years (married for 4) since we were 39 (his second marriage, my first). He has 3 older kids 16, 19, 22. He has always loved me very much (and people have often commented) but I probably took it for granted and have lost a bit of respect in the past few months for him not making an effort around the home etc and wanting to only watch TV. I realised he felt a little shaky about our relationship in early August and although he's very bad at talking through problems, did say that he thought i was seeing someone else. Probably because of my attitude shift. (He now says its not that, but doesn't know what the problem is) I said I wasn't seeing someone else but since then I have shown signs of weakness and have kept asking if we'll be ok and if he wants to stay together etc and I can see this has made him retreat even more. I'm usually quite forthright, almost bossy and I think he's always quite liked that. We've always make each other laugh. Having shown weakness to him, he has begun to not answer my calls etc, which is very hard for me. He has only been out late on one evening and nothing more than that but I worry he's going to leave me for someone else. My problem is I don't know how to behave right now. I'm trying not to show weakness and be my usual self but its proving difficult. I want us to stay together, because i love him. Yesterday I suggested he go to see his son at university as it was his birthday (i don't see his kids, we thought it best until his financial dealings with ex wife are finally resolved, when youngest child is 18) and he went, saying he'd be back at 2pm and got back at 7pm, I was calm, he said he'd not do that again, but clearly, in the past 8 weeks the relationship has changed so dramatically that I can hardly contain my weakness and neither of us at this stage want to leave this house, so I feel that if I'm not careful I'll end up like one of these women who's husband goes out all the time and I'm just left behind. (We have no children). I just would like to know how to behave in order to keep us together. He says he doesn't want us to split up, but that he knows things aren't right and realises that if it doesn't improve we'll split up and says his love is 'different' now. But I worry its just a matter of time, if I dont behave in the right way. It seems significant to me that it is only really since I showed weakness that things turned so bad. He says he is making an effort in the relationship and in the last week I have noticed it a little bit (e.g in answering my calls a little more - I only call 2 or 3 times each day - like we always have done), and last weekend I made the effort to be cheerful and it did seem to pay off, but his efforts are still not enough for me to be sure he wants us to stay together and isn't just merely waiting for the time when he can meet someone else and leave (he's the type who would prefer to meet someone else before leaving, rather than live alone). So, although I know that I need to remain cheerful and bubbly as I usually am, I really am struggling right now, to do that, because of the way our relationship has changed so much. We do own another house which we are waiting to sell to pay off some debts which probably plays on both of our minds, but I'm certain its not just that, although we agree it may have some bearing. But fundamentally, I just don't know how to behave to improve things. We used to text 'i love you' quite frequently but now if I do it, i get nothing back, so I have stopped. My fear is that if I stop contacting him or even go and stay at a friends for a week, that will signal the very end of what has always been a very loving relationship. I don't know if always being there is hindering our relationship and if I should be going out more - but of course i'm scared that if I go out (as Im supposed to do next week from work) he'll go out on a bender too, so I feel scared to go out. In the past he'd be happy to come home if I went out from work. So I simply don't know how to behave at the moment. Please help!
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mina replied 3 years ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us.

 

I am sorry to hear about your problems in your relationship.

 

I noticed that you used a lot the term "weakness" to describe showing your feelings to him. I would say that what you did was showing your insecurities about the future of your relationship. This is a healthy attitude and not a weakness by far. Obviously you are both in a relationship and what each person does affects somehow the other, so it is very normal to feel a certain level of insecurity since you have noticed this change. You said that his change is due to your weakness showing, that is started then. However, from your description earlier, his change started with his insecurities about you seeing someone else. His attitude is somewhat confusing and obviously this does not help you understand the problem and address it. He also mentioned that his feelings have somewhat changed towards you and his beviour has changed by not responding to your texts this often as he used to. He tells you that he realizes that things have changed between you but does not give you a clear picture so you both decide what you can try and improve on. However, he says that he does not want you to split.

All this behavior is quite confusing and very difficult to understand. No wonder you feel so insecure.

I could not possibly know what is going through his mind, but it is possible that he may be experiencing mixed feelings about this situation and the relationship and he may not know himself what he wants. This obviously can affect your behavior as well as you are not sure how to perceive his reactions and what to do.

 

It is very difficult at this point to predict what his reactions would be on your behavior. However, I would definitely advise you to go out and continue with your life as it was before. Going out once in a while as you used to do before, would not change things between you. If he uses this as an excuse for him to go out then the problem is not your socializing but it is obviously something deeper in the relationship. Keep in mind thought that he has the same needs to meet with friends as well.

 

I believe that you both need to see this change in your relationship seriously. Your communication clearly suffers at the moment and this will make it harder for both of you as times goes by.

 

I would definitely suggest that you both engaged in couple's therapy to start doing some exploration in your relationship and get help in identifying what is not good at the moment and what can be improved. You need a professional to facilitate these discussions so you are on a common ground. Couples usually find this experience very useful as they learn a lot about their partners and they learn new ways of communicating.

 

Therefore, I would suggest you to have a good chat with him about seeing a counselor together.

 

I hope that helps

 

All the best

 

Mina

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi there, Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX ought to mention that he absolutely won't go to counselling, so that is completely out of the question. Kind regards.
Expert:  Mina replied 3 years ago.
I see. Any particular reason for this?Does he have previous negative experience or he feels that you do not need this? It is possible that he has many defenses around this issue or feels uncomfortable opening up to a stranger.

You said that he does not want you to split. However, you say that he will not see a therapist with you, which would be a very positive sign that he is actively working for this relationship. If he does not open up to a you either and does not speak about his thoughts, how does he expect the relationship to move forward when the communication is limited?It sounds to me that either he is using denial (not wanting to face the problems) or he expects you to accept his limited efforts and that this would be enough to save the relationship. Again, it is not clear to me if his current attitude is a recent change or he has always behaved similarly. It is difficult to ascertain this and what has contributed to this as well.

I believe that you need to be assertive on this occasion and find a way to engage him in a serious discussion where you both can state your complaints of each other and at the same time acknowledge your own mistakes or mishandling and ways to address them. This needs to happen in a non judgmental way always thinking how each of your input or statement would be used in constructive ways. The point of this should not be to "win" an argument but to open up a dialog and let some of these unspoken needs out. This is something that you could do with a therapist but you could try by yourselves and see how this goes.

If he does not accept this option either, then it is up to you if you need to think that either it is a phase that he is going through and focus on your life for a while (if you think that there have been certain changes in his life) or he expresses a general indifference to the relationship and then obviously you would need to re evaluate your options. You need to remember that you are as part in this relationship as he is so I would advise you not to take all the issue and difficulties on your shoulders. He definitely needs to participate in rescuing this relationship if it needs rescuing.

Please feel free to share any further feedback on these thoughts.

All the best

Mina
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Mina, He probably doesn't think we need to talk and we'll just get through it. In his last marriage, which lasted a long time (about 16 years, but split after 10, but went back for finance and kids sake) and after he went back he just used to go out all the time, so at least he's not started doing that with me yet! He has only been like this with me for about 8 weeks and I know its only because he's been concerned about our relationship rather than him having met someone else (because he has only been out on one night out during that time). I'm certain its because he thought I was seeing someone else. But now he says its not that at all. I think he may have opened my mobile bill at one stage and thought I'd been texting someone perhaps, but we have never discussed that - its just summising on my part.

 

Prior to this 8 weeks ago, he was the sort of person who would show me love all the time and would walk past me and kiss me on the lips - e.g that happened on holiday in late June and that sort of thing I stupidly took for granted and as I noticed it change, I started to panic I suppose and wanted it back again.

 

He has this past week, made little inroads but he doesn't seem keen on any closeness with me right now and I'm worried about that obviously. We do have a few social events planned and we are usually quite good in those situations. He has never been good at talking and certainly wouldn't dream of talking to a therapist. And shuts down when I try to talk - probably because he thinks it will end up in an argument, and he's not too good at putting his thoughts into words and I think he fears that. It ends up with me talking and him saying nothing - so its like a lecture. He got cross with me yesterday and said stop asking me if I want to split up, I don't want to split up! I was pleased about that at least. He also said 'but I think I have been making an effort' and I was pleased about that too because I had noticed the little things. But I suppose I simply need to know how can I turn myself back into the vivacious and funny person that he fell in love with, and not be an insecure shadow of that person. I know what it is that he likes (what we both like) and this isn't it! I think a softly softly, draw it out of him conversation won't work, because I've tried, so I think if I can be my original self, that will work, that is my honest gut instinct - but its difficult to get back to that when I feel shaky on the inside and worried that he might leave at some stage later on! I have never shown him weakness before - Ive always been very strong and have always made most of the decisions for us - and he's always been happy with that - and asks what I think before making any decisions - he's that type of person. I understand there are books on 'how to make your husband love you again' and I feel like I ought to read those! As I said, I have a gut feeling that to fix this I need to be that person I used to be, but its very difficult and I worry that I won't get him back to how he was even just 6 months ago!I suppose I'm looking for answers that perhaps I know myself - be strong, funny, happy go lucky etc etc and he will warm to it all over again. There must be ways to switch the love back on though, if its just the case that someone simply has had a wobble and a concern over their partner going off them - that's not grounds for splitting up in itself is it? I could understand if a Partner has discovered the other having an affair but to lose everything over suspicion alone seems a step too far - in the early days I was worried and he did his best to reassure me - and that was great and I got over it. So simply, when someone won't talk and certainly wont enter into counselling because quite clearly, of fear of explaining himself, and perhaps fear of losing the relationship completely (or fear of losing it before he's ready) and fear of privacy concerns, how does someone like me turn it around again - sexy perhaps, lively? I am trying to be cheerful and show the odd bit of loving towards him, not sure what else might work!! Thanks again.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Mina, He probably doesn't think we need to talk and we'll just get through it. In his last marriage, which lasted a long time (about 16 years, but split after 10, but went back for finance and kids sake) and after he went back he just used to go out all the time, so at least he's not started doing that with me yet! He has only been like this with me for about 8 weeks and I know its only because he's been concerned about our relationship rather than him having met someone else (because he has only been out on one night out during that time). I'm certain its because he thought I was seeing someone else. But now he says its not that at all. I think he may have opened my mobile bill at one stage and thought I'd been texting someone perhaps, but we have never discussed that - its just summising on my part.

 

Prior to this 8 weeks ago, he was the sort of person who would show me love all the time and would walk past me and kiss me on the lips - e.g that happened on holiday in late June and that sort of thing I stupidly took for granted and as I noticed it change, I started to panic I suppose and wanted it back again.

 

He has this past week, made little inroads but he doesn't seem keen on any closeness with me right now and I'm worried about that obviously. We do have a few social events planned and we are usually quite good in those situations. He has never been good at talking and certainly wouldn't dream of talking to a therapist. And shuts down when I try to talk - probably because he thinks it will end up in an argument, and he's not too good at putting his thoughts into words and I think he fears that. It ends up with me talking and him saying nothing - so its like a lecture. He got cross with me yesterday and said stop asking me if I want to split up, I don't want to split up! I was pleased about that at least. He also said 'but I think I have been making an effort' and I was pleased about that too because I had noticed the little things. But I suppose I simply need to know how can I turn myself back into the vivacious and funny person that he fell in love with, and not be an insecure shadow of that person. I know what it is that he likes (what we both like) and this isn't it! I think a softly softly, draw it out of him conversation won't work, because I've tried, so I think if I can be my original self, that will work, that is my honest gut instinct - but its difficult to get back to that when I feel shaky on the inside and worried that he might leave at some stage later on! I have never shown him weakness before - Ive always been very strong and have always made most of the decisions for us - and he's always been happy with that - and asks what I think before making any decisions - he's that type of person. I understand there are books on 'how to make your husband love you again' and I feel like I ought to read those! As I said, I have a gut feeling that to fix this I need to be that person I used to be, but its very difficult and I worry that I won't get him back to how he was even just 6 months ago!I suppose I'm looking for answers that perhaps I know myself - be strong, funny, happy go lucky etc etc and he will warm to it all over again. There must be ways to switch the love back on though, if its just the case that someone simply has had a wobble and a concern over their partner going off them - that's not grounds for splitting up in itself is it? I could understand if a Partner has discovered the other having an affair but to lose everything over suspicion alone seems a step too far - in the early days I was worried and he did his best to reassure me - and that was great and I got over it. So simply, when someone won't talk and certainly wont enter into counselling because quite clearly, of fear of explaining himself, and perhaps fear of losing the relationship completely (or fear of losing it before he's ready) and fear of privacy concerns, how does someone like me turn it around again - sexy perhaps, lively? I am trying to be cheerful and show the odd bit of loving towards him, not sure what else might work!! Thanks again.

Expert:  Mina replied 3 years ago.

Hi again,

 

I understand what you are saying. However, it seems very difficult for you having to always assume how he feels and why. And it would be difficult for anyone in your shoes. If he feels insecure or hurt he seems to be distancing from you and possibly by showing him more attention and devotion may disperse any of his fears. But again you can only assume and observe but not really understand his behaviour unless he opens up to you. Communication is a vital part of any relationship and you need to continue encouraging him to open up, otherwise you will both continue covering up any difficulties. You may need to consider acquiring a more subtle approach, showing him that it is safe for him to open up and that you can have your differences without this necessary having to lead to an argument. You can ask him about his family and what his experience was from being part of this family, how was the communication between his parents etc. Obviously this would need to be done in a relaxed time and place so he does not feel interrogated. Using such techniques may encourage him slowly to open up in the future.

 

I hope everything works out well.

 

All the best in your efforts

 

Mina

Mina, Clinical Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 188
Experience: Working as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist in NHS. Experience in both children and adults
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