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Fabio Goderecci
Fabio Goderecci, Psychiatrist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 135
Experience:  MD, Specialist in Psychiatry & Psychotherapy
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My husband doesnt respect me and I dont know how to get him to respect me. We

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My husband doesn't respect me and I don't know how to get him to respect me. We are from different cultures and it is really hard. We have gone to counseling, but after thousands of dollars, the counselor said my husband was "clueless". We also just have our first baby. He is 6 months old and deserves a loving family. Somehow I didn't see when we were dating how much he does not respect me. I am filled with regret with marrying him after 6 years of marriage. His Indian culture is extremely stressful to deal with. I am white and a Christian and want to give this marriage everything I have. I don't want to give it up until I have tried everything possible. However, all of the stress of everything is starting to influence my health. I am constantly fighting against a culture that believes in treating their women like dirt and not valuing the relationship of marriage. His parents are from an arranged marriage. I know I cannot change him and have to change myself, but I am extremely lonely
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Fabio Goderecci replied 3 years ago.

Fabio Goderecci :

Hello and thank you for your question to JA. I wish I will be able to help you. Could you please give some more info about these topics 1. Do you have any idea of what the counselor meant when she/he said that "your husband is clueless" 2. Did she/he say that to him or separately to you 3. Can you describe a few of those everyday situations where he lacks of respect to you, what you do to set boundaries and how he reacts to that in specific 4. Can you also say a few words more about your family and religious background in Christianity there are many different cultural sub-groups and also as you are in the US it may be that in your family history there are different cultural backgrounds/ethnicity. This info so that I can get a clearer picture of what is going on in everyday life. Thanks

Fabio Goderecci :

Dr. Fabio Goderecci................Disclaimer: this psychiatric/psycho-therapeutic advice is for educational purposes. It cannot substitute a medical/psycho-therapeutic evaluation/treatment having place in person at the practice of a licensed psychiatrist/psycho-therapist. This advice should always be applied under the personal supervision of a specialist at her/his practice. If your situation is an emergency you should visit an emergency unit right now.

Customer:

My husband is not used to dealing with people emotionally. The counselor told me that my husband is a baby. In observing my husband's family, I understand how he does not know how to communicate his feelings. He learned a little bit in counseling how to identify his feelings, but he is now going back to old patterns again recently after our new baby came into the picture. The counselor met with both of us and individually. When he said he was "clueless" he just said that to me personally in an individual appointment.

Customer:

I have more, let me type the rest

Customer:

I have a very complicated situation. I will try to explain it the best I can. My husband withholds sex from me. He constantly stays up late after coming home from work relaxing on the internet. Then sometimes at 3 a.m, he wakes me up wanting sex. I do not want to use sex as a weapon, and yet he refuses to be sensitive to my need to have sex at an appropriate hour of the day. He does not care that I need extra rest right now with the huge demands of taking care of a new baby and trying to go back to work in the fall. I'm not sure how to set a boundary with this other than to tell him that I will not have sex with him in the middle of the night. He needs to be sensitive to my need as well, but he is only thinking of his own needs. I don't want to get into not sleeping with him, but I'm not sure how to protect myself.

Customer:

He seperates his life from mine. He wanted to change jobs without consulting me. I try to ask him to call me during the day, but it is a struggle for him. Because he is working so much, he uses it as a barrier between us and as an excuse because "he has to pay all of the bills". When I ask him about his day, he says a few words, but hates to talk about the specifics. I realize that I am angry and very hurt, but I still make an effort to try to be pleasant with him when he is home. I try to not give him back what he gives me in terms of how I treat him.

Customer:

I am trying to get my son baptized. When we met with the pastor, afterwards, my husband was furious with me because I asked some wrong question that really pushed his buttons in the wrong way. I didn't mean to do anything to insult him, however, on the car ride home he threatened to bring our son overseas. I insisted that I will refuse to sign the passport. I later told him that he cannot threaten me again like that. So far, he has not threaten me again. He explained that he was hurt, but I explained to him that this is not an acceptable way to treat me.

Customer:

I am a Lutheran Christian. I am mostly from a German background. My husband is Indian and also from a Christian background. I am starting to see that I think I am repressing my anger at my husband and it is possibly making me sick. My doctor told me I need to reduce the stress in my life. Let me know if you need any other information. Thank you so much.

Customer:

What I meant that my husband is a baby from the counselor is that he was a "baby" emotionally. Not that he is any means weak, he just has great problems dealing with his or my emotions. I don't know what the counselor said to my husband, but I do know that my husband hated to go to individual counseling with this counselor.

Customer:

My husband does have an anger problem. He used to throw things out of rage when we were fighting, however, I have told him that I will not speak to him when he is throwing things, so it has gotten better.

Customer:

I just feel frustrated that my husband doesn't want to share his life with me. I know I may be doing things to prevent him being close to me. I have asked him to just spend 10 minutes of time with me a day, but even that is hard for him. This is very hard for me because when I married him, I meant it for life.

Fabio Goderecci :

Hello and thank you for your further info. I think I understand myself the meaning of the word "baby" used by the counselor now. See basing on what you say I think that the problem is a lack of mirroring from his parents when he was a child. We all go through a stage when we are between 1-5 years old where the parents help us cope with our emotions by reflecting them to us constantly. We slowly learn through that how to deal with our emotions so that we achieve what is called "emotional control" I am sure that there are cultural differences involved on the other hand I think that in is culture there are plenty of men who learned how to control their emotions. Now you are basically with him in a situation where when he feels certain emotions in this case anger, sexual frustration he is not able in his mind to reflect that to himself like "I am angry now" or "I would like to make love with her now" and he is totally helpless about those emotions. I think that one thing you can do to help the situation is a radical change in the way you approach the discussion with him. When you "try to discuss" or "try to have him see reason" it does not work because you are dealing with a lack of psychological structure so what he really hears then is "she is nagging at me" or "she is blaming me" and if he has been taught in his culture that "women need to be put in their place if they talk too much" then he reacts by the punitive approach you describe here like for example withdrawing from communication. Now change the approach like this: instead of trying to "discuss" or "have him see reason" simply do what the parents did not do enough: mirror his feelings. You are already feeling guilty because you "withdraw sex" at night and I think that what you really want then is to sleep. So when you have him come to you and want sex instead of trying to have him "understand" like "you know I have to work and I need to sleep" simply mirror the feeling he has like: "I can see you want.. I can see you would like to stay with me" and then when he feels mirrored and understood on the feeling you can lead and "I am tired now.. let´s be a little bit together on our own tomorrow.. " and mirror more "Oh I can see that you really want me now" See that is because what happens here is that he cannot by himself control his own emotional state. This same approach of mirroring his feelings might slowly and over time have him feel good about the idea of spending sometimes every day with you talking about things. He only needs ot feel that it is HIS own decision to come. I understand that doing this may be frustrating to you on the other hand it is the only realistic way out because what you wrote describes a man who could not in early age learn to be enough in touch with certain emotions and if his culture approves the fact that at times he "roars" like the lion to just make clear his leadership then you are dealing with a situation where he feels even supported in the inner level in regard to his behavior by his culture so it is not realistic to think that he might "change" if he does not before that tastes something which is far better than what he got till now: a person who can be receptive and mirror his feelings. You can pace and lead him when you want your peace: FIRST the mirroring of the emotions and THEN after he calms down kindly leading where you want ( for example sleep at night) This is the best which comes to my mind and I understood your goal is to do all what you can do save the marriage. Please feel free to ask more.

Customer:

O.k. so if I understand correctly, when we have a conflict, I need to acknowledge his feelings and then share my feelings then? I can work more on this. What I get frustrated with is I do share my feelings but sometimes there is no action on his part. But I think you are saying I need to just keep at it and eventually he will come around? This is very good advice. This has been very helpful. Do you know of any good books on this subject you would recommend? I want to make sure I mirror well with my son also. So when he has an emotion I need to acknowledge what he feels and then teach him to redirect it then? I also have another problem as he has applied for his parents' citizenship in America. I told him before we were married that I would not be able to live with his parents. He assurred me that this was o.k. with him but after we got married it became extremely clear that his parents were first priority over me and he was going to do whatever it takes to get them over to America from India. I really thought we were going to get a divorce 2 years ago when his parents came and this led us to counseling. While his parents were here, he did not treat me with any kind of respect and I was treated like a servant in my own house. I did not have much say in any decisions. His mom expected me to do all of the errands, take care of the house, cook 8 hours a day,and constantly have people over. It would not have been so hurtful if it was just his mom, but Anup basically treated me like an Indian woman instantly the moment his parents came. I was completely exhausted and pushed way past my limit. Anup also ignored me during these 2 and half months and refused to spend much one on one time. We got in a really big fight just because I wanted to go out to dinner with him on our anniversary. Now, he grew up with servants and his parents had servants while they were in Ethiopia (they are Indian, but lived in Ethiopia) . Our counselor told me that I should not put up with this and only allow his parents to stay with us 1 month. This is very hard since Anup only sees his parents during these visits.Most Indian parents stay with their children 6 months out of the year. I can relate with my husband wanting to see his parents, but I am at a loss how to protect myself during this time emotionally. I just feel worthless during this time. He has promised me that his parents are not going to live with us as I know I will not be able to stay married to him if they do. My husband knows this, yet I don't know how to deal with this situation. We don't have the money to put them up in a hotel. Is there a way I can write you again in the future with this website?I

Customer:

Anup thinks I am a very cruel person to not allow his parents to stay with us as long as needed. It would be a different thing if they were kinder to me, but his mom is never pleased with me and when they are around our entire marriage changes, though it isn't too great without them around I guess. I lost all of my "rights" as a wife when they are around. I have read in books that Anup is supposed to stand up to his parents to support me, however, he never does. It was a huge fight when they were here not to have guest sleep in our master bedroom. I didn't care how ugly it had to be, I would not allow it. They want to treat America like India and it is not possible. It is so different here.

Fabio Goderecci :

Hello and thank you for your further comments. You understood very well what I meant when I was talking about emotional mirroring and yes, that helps the child. It is one of the most important things the mother does to the child. About mirroring: when a person is under the influence of a strong emotion how much and how long you need to repeat the pacing is proportional to the intensity of the emotion. One book you would like to read which is very clarifying about the role of emotions in our life is Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. About partents: in Indian culture they have an almost divine power on children, it is a part of culture. Your consuelor is right about your right of setting the borders anyway keep in mind that in traditional societies there is all the time quite often a great deal of "drama" which means that symbols and attitudes assume more meaning than the real thing. I would say be more non reactive about his parents and simply do what you want while verbalizing your respect for them. See sometimes it is more about the symbolic behind it other than the real thing. Part of your background is Lutheran which is so far from the Indian culture as it can be. Luther's reform started as a fight against corruption and the main idea is that the grace of God is shown through real actions it can be very difficult for you to grasp completely the symbolism behind what they mean in India with respect for parents. Lutheran religion is much more connected with action and direct truth. Agree that your husband will face a tremendous cultural shock in America. Yes you can contact an expert directly in JA also later on. Wish you the best.

Customer:

So there is no way for me to contact you again directly on this site? Thank you SO much for your advice.

Customer:

I think you are helping me more than my counselor did.

Customer:

I don't want to be responsible for splitting up my parents family, however, Anup gets full of rage at me if I try to limit their stay with us.

Customer:

I am willing to pay you a little more money as I know you are taking a great deal of time with me.

Customer:

I meant I don't want to be responsible for splitting up my husband's family, but when you say not to be reactive concerning my husband's parents, I'm not sure how to live that out what you mean. His mother is extremely demeaning to me. She is not verbal about it, though sometimes she is, yet when I speak out to Anup about it, he is defensive and does not help or protect me. I am currently reading a book entitled "Toxic In-laws" that says that even if my husband does not want to stick up for me, I can do it myself. However, my husband warned me that I am not to give his parents "even a wrong look". This is not realistic, as they have a full ride as to how demeaning they can be to me yet I am supposed to worship their every move. It is very helpful to me to talk to you as you seem to understand the culture a little bit. So what you are saying when his parents want to invite people over constantly and expect me to take care of them I am just supposed to stick up for myself and say it can only happen sometimes? An "indian" woman is not supposed to stick up for herself, so anytime I do I am punished emotionally. It causes my husband to look bad in front of his parents and the cycle of frustration continues. Thank you for helping me. It really means a lot.

Customer:

Do you know of any resources that help couples from different cultures like us? I know each case is specialized, but I am very fearful when his parents come to visit. We now have the added element of a child, so this is sure going to be interesting.....by the way, my husband has turned Lutheran and we go to church together, but I know this does not take away the cultural issues we face.

Fabio Goderecci :

Hello sure you can contact me again. There is on the client side a way to send a new question to the same expert. Please ask JA's support about that. Youca n send me a new question any time you wish. About being non reactive: you are dealing with a hierarchic way of establishing power and supremacy inside the family which uses a lot symbolic signs and "clues " like for example his mother's way of looking at you. You simply aknowledge the signals, stay calm and do what you want. It is a complex and from the point of view of America more primitive way of making clear "who is in charge" If you take it too seriously it can stress you a lot. This does not mean to split his family it means only to protect yourself emotionally. It is not a good thing for you and not for him and his family if you get a depression out of this situation.

Fabio Goderecci :

I am not aware of a therapy service for transcultural marrriage problems in the US. Anyway the right place to ask is for sure the American Association For Family Therapy you can find in google.

Customer:

Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOO much! I will remember your help. It really has cheered me up today to talk to you.

Fabio Goderecci, Psychiatrist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 135
Experience: MD, Specialist in Psychiatry & Psychotherapy
Fabio Goderecci and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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