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Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.
It sounds like you may be interested in repairing the marriage but your husband is not. That makes it very difficult to improve your marriage or grow closer in any way.
There are a few ways you can approach this. One, you can stay with your husband and try to work it out. Make time to sit down and talk everything out. Let him know how you feel. Ask if he is willing to work on the marriage. Bring up the marriage counselor idea again. Tell him that in order to work things out, going to see a counselor is non negotiable because it is vital that you find out why the marriage is not working.
Two, you can leave the marriage. This is one you have to evaluate for yourself as to whether or not you feel you would be happier on your own as a single parent. There are the children to consider as well.
Three, you could try a trial separation. See how things work for a while.
Four, you can continue just as you are right now. Lower your expectations for your marriage and live as roommates. Stay together for the children. You mentioned that he has improved his relationship with his kids so that is a good point. You can re evaluate the relationship again once the kids move out.
You may want to also consider that your husband might be depressed. It is very unusual that a man would not care either way about his relationship or about going anywhere or doing anything with his family. He may be depressed and not aware of it. If he is willing, have him see a therapist for an evaluation. If not, maybe he would at least be willing to talk to his doctor.
There are some resources I'd like to recommend for you to try. One is called http://www.5lovelanguages.com/. Another is http://www.marriagetoday.com/. And another is a book called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver. These may help give you ideas on how to make the most of your marriage, if you do want to try.
I hope this has helped you,Kate
I want to point out, he DOES like being with "OUR" family. He likes me around, I think in the "background"... where his meals are prepared, the house is picked up, his clothes clean, his back rubbed, and his children taken care of. MY LOVE LANUAGE IS TOUCH and words of affirmation, I love to be loved, and I give it to everyone, and I get NONE in return, except his love language is Acts of Service...hey, I have a beautiful house, car, etc., but no touch or words, and I'm not just talking about sex. He doesn't care for "my" family and most of "my friends"... and that's been since day one. He doesn't mind going places "at times" when the kids are involved, never "us" alone unless I'm that "trophy wife" (been there done that, so I'm 20# XXXXX I'm still a looker and very outgoing). I truly believe he doesn't really care one way or another about me, except of course if I was terminally ill.
We've been through "those" books before. Remember, I was disconnected, while I was having "my affair" and he was trying to win me back. So, he was all over trying to make this "marriage" thing work. He didn't want his family torn apart. I failed to mention, that he didn't know about the "affair" until 1 1/2 yrs. after it was over. Then, he proceded to tell me he was interested in "another woman" and maybe I was right all along. That's when I told him about the affair. That "other woman" never materialized into anything... just an affair of the heart. But since then, early 2009 'til now, I've literally been sleepwalking. I still don't feel "good enough" for "him", but hey, my kids are loved from both of us and are thriving. But I'm emotionally and physically starved. Is it worth it? I honestly do try, w/touch, initiation of sex (what man, wouldn't), words of affirmation, you name it. I DON'T want to go down the "affair" road again, that doesn't solve the intial problem, only makes it worse, and for God's sake I'm Catholic and it's totally wasn't me to begin with...BUT I NEEDED TO feel like a woman for once, a desired, loving woman, who's told and shown. I feel like we're brother and sister, I feel we could be friends, I only know my husband, I think I'd actually miss him, because I've only been with him almost my whole adult life. Now what???
Then it is up to you how you want to handle it, if he has no investment in the relationship. It sounds like to me that he is not willing to change or work on the marriage. In that case, there is little you can control about him. The only thing you can control is you.
I highly recommend you go to counseling yourself. You have gone through a lot in this relationship and suffered from low self esteem as you said before. It seems there are a lot of strong feelings for you (I'd be surprised if there weren't) and all those emotions can affect you to the point that making a good decision for you and your family would be difficult. Ask your doctor for a referral or if you attend church, speak with a clergy person. You can also find a therapist by searching on line at www.find-a-therapist.com. It doesn't necessarily need to be a marital therapist, just someone who can help you through this tough time.
I have suffered from low self-esteem and mild depression all my life. My husband has been aware of this since day one. So we both know what we both brought to the table. I am seeing a counselor and am on a mild dose of anti-depressants, since the last three years have been difficult for me, us, and our family.
I agree w/your (4) suggestions you mentioned earlier. My only concern is, my husband will, no doubtly say, you're always unhappy, why do you think you'll be any happier alone and with children who'll be unhappy. Funny thing is, for the most part, I am happy: I LOVE my children, my immediate family, and friends, with an absolute passion. I only know one way... a lonliness from not feeling complete w/my partner. Together we haven't grown at all in this relationship, maybe in some ways I have from being more self-sufficient these past three years. My husband wasn't always willing to help me or my family out a lot of times w/things, so I had to take it upon my self to figure it out--I guess I should thank him for that--but I'd get angry instead since I'd see him help others (his own family included) and not the ones he was suppose to love.
I know some people have a hard time telling their loved ones how they feel, but in 19 yrs. of marriage I literally can count on one hand him actually telling me these three words...I LOVE YOU. Wow, you'd think, him knowing I have self-esteem issues, having touch and words of affirmation love language, wouldn't you think you'd get it? How hard is it to tell someone they look nice and hey, by the way, I LOVE YOU! To hold your hand, to hug you, and say good night, instead of rolling over. Granted, I don't say good night anymore, why, I'm too damn tired!!!!!!!! He does, thank God, love our kids to pieces, and tells them so w/words and actions. Why not me? You know, I have so much love in me, that if he'd "give an inch" (like he asked me 3 yrs. ago), I'd love him up. Because truly, I have a great capacity for love, if someone loved me up, I'd love back. I don't with him anymore, because I NEVER get it back, inturn he thinks I'm angry, tired, and an unhappy mess.
I've always worried about my weight (I'm normal-sized), I've been up and down 20# XXXXX my adult life, but now add drinking to the equation. Before when I was I ate, well now I'm drinking. I really wasn't a big drinker, but I'll tell you, the past three years, more so than ever. I am somewhat concerned, but it doesn't help when your husband gets you booze for Christmas presents and anniversary gifts. I specifically told him not to. My kids think it's funny...they like it when mom's "more relaxed".
I guess it says a lot about how he feels about me. I'm starting to see our older son doing and saying things like his father...I really is putting a red flag up to me. I don't want him to think that's how "married" people treat each other, w/no love or respect. The little one gets it, but hurts me when he asks me, when's the last time Dad kissed you? Is Dad your sweetheart, Mom? Is my husband dense? Does he truly not care? Don't I deserve some love and respect?
Is it me? I'm I just a drama queen. Do I like being unhappy? I wish I could just have a "do over". I'm afraid maybe he could be right? How do you start over whether I wait 'til 50 yrs. old, (man, that's old), or at 45 yrs. Who'll want me? I've been told that before...guess who?
I deserve to laugh, love, and be happy...does it really take a man to do that?
No, it does not take a man to be happy. It is more about your self esteem and less about his actions. Yes, it does sound like he has hurt you deeply. Based on what you said, he would benefit a lot from therapy and finding out why he withholds his feelings from you. But you can be happy without him as well. Many people are in bad marriages or are not married at all and do just fine being happy if they feel ok about themselves. It does not mean they would not be happier with great marriages or even being married, but they still can be happy.
You are very hurt by what he has done and apparently he is not understanding your needs. There is no way to change him so the change will need to come from you. You would benefit greatly by increasing your self esteem and starting to feel better about yourself. Many people do this with and without marriages. It is about the individual and not the relationship.
You mentioned seeing a counselor. Do you feel it is helping you? If not, you may want to see another counselor. Sometimes, it is much like finding a good doctor. You need to search until you find a good fit. The work you are doing in counseling should be helping you address your self esteem issues and once you feel you are better, you can determine if staying in the marriage is manageable.
Is self-esteem and better confidence going to make my husband love me? I got it though, it'll make ME love ME more and in-turn "other" things will happen like for example, my marriage could get better. But, I'm stubborn, why do I have to change to make him see me more? It shouldn't have to be that way. I'm me w/others, and they love me just fine. Like I said before, if he knows my love language, why wouldn't he want to speak it?
You are not changing to make him love you, you are changing so you can feel better for yourself. If you depend on him to make you feel better then he would have to change in order for your self esteem to increase. If he is not willing to change, then you will continue to feel bad about yourself and your marriage. If you change on your own, separate from him, then you will increase your self esteem and not be tied to your marriage to feel better about yourself. Dependency on someone else to feel better usually always ends in disappointment.
There is no way to know how he feels and why he won't change. The focus to change needs to be on you, for yourself and not for him or the marriage.That is the only part you can control is you.
Sorry it has taken me so long to response, but I was truly digesting all this information. I've read over and over both my concerns and your replies. I do see clearer and understand more fully, maybe I always have.
It really does come down to my self-esteem. I know I struggle w/that, and I shouldn't have to rely on someone else to make me happy. I get it. Like it said, after looking back on my life, I guess I relied on everyone else to make me happy, just not myself.
Wow, it's taken me 45 yrs. and countless therapists, medications, and marriage woes to finally see the trees through the forest.
Your (4) suggestions orginally posted are great. I guess I needed to see them in writing before me to truly understand and comprehend what I really want to do and what I need to do. FIRST and foremost before I dig into the "suggestions" I need to work on ME, ME, and more ME!!!
Then when I am healthy, not just physcially, but emotionally and mentally... I'm going to tackle suggestion (1). I really need to be more "healthy" before I approach that one. My husband probably sees nothing wrong in our marriage, or if he does, he won't want to put the "work" into it to make a stronger and more fulfilling union. That's why I need to be "strong" for ME: First, to approach him on the subject, Second, to be prepared for his response, and Three, to follow through on any demands I may make.
Hopefully, he'll see the changes I'm going through (however long it make take), and ON HIS OWN he'll respond with a more positive outlook towards us.
I do get scared, I do have a lot of "emotional baggage" from the last 25 years. I know now, I really can't blame him for everything, but he has contributed to the "breakdown" of our marriage. One thing that falls WAY short, is our communication. I want to "talk" about "my" feelings, "his" feelings, and "our" feelings, and he wants to runaway as quick as possible. How do I handle that, in my quest for HIGH or at least higher self-esteem?
So what do you think? I think I got it all out there. Looking forward to your response.
You can handle it by understanding that his response is about him, not you. He owns his behavior and is responsible for it. When you work on your issues, that will become clearer for you and you will start to see if for what it is.