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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5240
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My husband and I have been married 10 years.

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My husband and I have been married 10 years. We continuously argue, in front of and away from children (7 and 2). I was reluctant to marry him because we had communication problems before we got married. He doesn't talk very much and when he does it is not very in depth. He made lots of promises and I really wanted to marry him. So here we are 10 years later having the same arguments all the time " you don't talk to me". I don't want to divorce because I can't be away from my children and I don't want them to be without a mom for a day. He doesn't want to divorce and says he loves me and he'll talk more and change but you know how that goes....never. So I feel like I'm stuck pretty much and just have to accept his ways and find intimacy elsewhere (not an affair just more time with friends so I can feel good about myself). We've tried counseling and that didn't stick so no where?..............

about me:  I just recently got my drph 2 years ago and work from home part time.  Not too much work and I take care of everything in the house and pay all the bills.  I also have a physical handicap which makes it difficult for me to walk. 

Husband:  he works for himself, his own hours.  He's helpful with the kids and plays with them a lot.  Leaves the house about 11am and returns about 7-8pm.  I usually am in severe pain by that time.

Nothing takes the place of counseling. Even if you have tried it before, you may find one that is a better fit. I have a nontraditional suggest for this. Look into ecounseling or etherapy where you can sit with your disability in your livingroom with him to particiapte in counseling. The other suggestion is to get my favoritye guide to communication which is Mars and Venus Together Forever. If you try these suggestions they both focus on communication.


You do have the ability to use other ways to find intimacy as you said. Maybe you can identify and participate in a regularly scheduled activity with close friends that would give you that social interaction. This can be anything from cards to bingo. It doesn't matter. It is the availability of this scheduled activity that helps you have a close social activity.


Explore the use of journaling to share thoughts and help him practice the use of positive communication. This is in Mars and Venus too. Share your journals with each other to practice thoughts first on paper.


If this has been helpful press accept

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

There's a "wild card" here that you minimize a bit: your pain. Tell me more about this. He comes home and you're in pain. What are you like when you're in pain?

Are you in pain, then, for the rest of the night?

If so, when would the emotional closeness between you happen? Or, how would he get past your pain?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes. I'm in pain in general most of the day. My close secondary thoughts throughout the day generally are about my pain. It has definately changed who I am and I'm probably less empathetic to anybody and mostly my husband about any of their issues. I feel that if I've got to do everything I do and do it in pain, well you then you (as in any other person) have nothing to complain about. So yes....the pain is a wildcard, really wild card. But I don'think that takes away from our inability to communicate well. Of course, my vision is clouded so I can be not seeing everything which is why I wrote in. Thanks so much for your questions. More questions would be appreciated.
Are you taking medications for your pain? Can you list them for me?

What is your prognosis for the pain? Are you going to live your whole life in pain like this?

Do you believe in alternative treatment for pain? Acupuncture? Mind-Body Connection, for example?

Is your husband putting up with the marriage for the same reason as you are, the kids? Or does he have a different dynamic operating?

Can he truly set his own hours? Or does that schedule have to stay as is?

Dr. Mark
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I just take(NNN) NNN-NNNNmg of Motrin a day. I need to have a hip replacement but I must get my muscles stonger a bit before I can and I would like my 2 year old to be a bit older so I don't have to pick her up as much. I do believe in alternative treatment but we are financially strained at the moment and it is not an option right now. My husband does want to stay together for the sake of the children but he also loves me. I do love my husband, he is just not accustomed to talking and I'm the complete opposite. That has put a huge strain on us. He can set in hours within reason because it is also according to other people's schedules for him to do home or school visits with children. Hmmmm, I guess I didn't add the other piece of the puzzle....I am loosing my job in November and I carry all the health insurance and this is putting us through the ringer. I'm looking for additiional work however I have yet to find anything. So...I'm sure there are a thousand other strains on us, jobs, finances, pain, kids (one has severe food allergies so I'm ALWAYS in the kitchen cooking for him), household chores, paying the bills. We just don't spend time together or talk much. So I get very sad and isolated.

Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how frustrating and distressing this situation must be for you. The two of you are living under immense amount of stress and tension. And on top of that you have terrible pain in your hip area. And on top of that money is going to get even tighter with your losing your health insurance coverage soon. Wow. That is a whole lot. Your marriage is incredibly strong. You don't recognize this, but I'm telling you. So the main part of my answer is going to be on how to strengthen it more. But before that I want to take a moment to talk about your physical pain.

You are waiting for a hip replacement. Okay. While you are doing that I want to introduce a concept called the mind body connection. Mostly we are trained to treat our pain on the basis that it is a mechanical, biological problem: you are the driver, your body is the "car". Your body hurts, go to a mechanic (doctor) and have it fixed. But we are not built that way. Our "selves" and our "bodies" have an intertwined relationship and pain is not just part of our body's system and irrelevant to our "selves", our feelings, experiences, thoughts, etc. So let's look at something that ties together that pain and the inner self. This is something called the mind-body connection. The idea of mind-body connection is that the physical symptoms you (and most of us) are feeling are not the disorder; they are symptoms masking the emotional and psychological realities (mind) that each of us is too scared to face. On the surface it sounds strange and almost anti-modern. How can things about me I am not ready to deal with cause pain. This isn't the place to give a full class on mind-body connection, but I can tell you that you will find many resources on the web.

The idea here is that I'm not trying to get you to throw away the x-rays or anything like that. I'm responding to what's happening in your life: you don't have money for expensive treatment like acupuncture or Western pain management with an MD. And this pain is adding to the problem I'm addressing, your marital harmony. Because you have less ability in that area when you are in pain. And mind body work is something you can learn on your own and see if it will help you. Okay?

I want to give you an example from someone I worked with:

Her husband died in an auto accident. She never grieved properly for a number of reasons. She at one point fell off a ladder and broke her foot. Her foot just wouldn't heal properly. she wound up with an acupuncturist/massage therapist who told her, "Your foot will never heal until you let yourself grieve for your husband." She was shocked. She came to see me and worked on letting herself grieve. She's fine now. The concept, though, that her foot's healing from the pain of the break was somehow related to her emotional healing from her husband's death was at first impossible for her to fully accept. But she did and it helped. This is just one example.

So this method requires you to allow yourself to see the pain as a manifestation of something more emotional within. This approach is the mind-body connection approach. You can Google it and get acquainted. I know many people who have been helped with this approach and I know many people who scoff at it. I hope you won't scoff at it because it can help you who are rather treatment resistant in the easy treatments if you are interested in a more alternative approach to looking at your physical pain. I would like you to focus on the work of Dr. John Sarno. He is elderly now but very active and it is interesting how much more mainstream his work is becoming. The controversy is not as interesting for you as the need you have to open yourself up to your own emotional life! Dr. Sarno's work is one opening to that: that physical pain ailments are very often the physical masking of psychological and emotional suffering that we don't want to face. He has a video out now, though you might want to start with his older books such as The Mind Body Prescription. His older books have a lot of symptoms you have to read through at first. Please don't tell him, but I have most of my patients just scan through some of those sections. He believes it's important to read them, so if you want go ahead. But I've had good results without it for us impatient types. Here's the Amazon page for The Mind Body Prescription. You'll see that it has more reader reviews than most books because people are very passionate about this.

That our bodies can respond to our psychological/spiritual selves is really not so strange if we think about it. The studies in my field of psychology and in medicine are just starting to be done confirming this connection. For example the studies showing the connection between spiritual practice and healing from surgery; the greater longevity of people who have regular church attendance. And many other connections.

So that is something I'd like you to explore for your pain and your psychological well being. Now let's get to our discussion about your marriage.


So you are finding yourself saying to yourself that marriage is not supposed to be like this after that many years. Is this what is supposed to happen? And the answer is what you know it is: no. That's not what's supposed to happen. Well, then, how DOES it happen?

From what you write, the sense you give is that what happened is atrophy. Atrophy is what happens to muscles when they are not exercised and used regularly. They lose tone and eventually lose ability to activate. LOVE is a muscle. And love can atrophy. It slowly wears out until you can't find how to access it any more.

But here's a truth that is SO IMPORTANT:

Even if you two divorce, each of you will have to start EXERCISING your love muscles to feel what you don't feel now! It WILL be easier because it will be new faces and new bodies, but they will become familiar soon enough. The truth, though, is that it will take exercising your love muscles in new relationships. So why not try with the person you've each already devoted so much effort to?

Let's make a good faith effort to see if the ship can be righted. Okay?

Therefore, I want you to print out my answer and take it and him to a Starbucks or other quiet place and discuss it and commit to the program to try to make your marriage a success. You're going to start with a book. You'll get 2 copies, one for each of you. Each night you're both going to read a few pages or a chapter and do the exercise there if there is one in those pages. Every other night, or at most, every third night sometimes, you will get together, either at home or at the Starbucks and talk about what you read. What you think of it, what it inspired in you. Make notes in the margins. And each one talk about the subject of the pages and what you think. That's your assignment and dates. This is why I asked about schedules: the two of you have to arrange your schedules to make time for this. Your marriage is the most important thing you are building. For generations. So treat it that way. Make the time!

The book: It's by the foremost researcher into relationships in our day, John Gottman. He's famous for being interviewed on TV and being able to tell when a couple will get divorced within 5 minutes and having 90% accuracy. I've studied his therapy and use his therapy in my practice and that's why I'm concerned that you two do this. So the book is the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. You can get it cheaply online or see if you can get it locally to save time.

Now, a secret: the magic is not in the book. The exercises and Gottman's insights will be very useful and important for the two of you. But the magic is in the act of working together on your marriage! The two of you paying attention every single day to your marriage and making effort every single day: that's the magic ingredient in great marriages that GROW in love as the years pile up. I want to make sure you both understand this as you are trying to do this without therapy, without the expense of therapy. Because that's the key to our work here. Okay?

We humans are not built to tolerate emotional vacuums. When we have an unfulfilled emotional need, and we want that need fulfilled, and we don't find a way to fulfill it, we have created a vacuum. Our emotional selves feel the void and want it filled. So we feel the sense of "missing" something and life seems unfulfilled. You both seem to be in the throes of this vacuum. That is what this program was about.

If this work gets you two to first base but not all the way, if it isn't a home run, then consider therapy even though it will mean a financial investment: the two of you MUST work on how emotional connections are made and maintained. The two of you together need help in learning how to make your marriage more emotionally intimate and positive. There are two types of therapies I recommend strongly for you two to consider.

One type of therapy is called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Why? Because it focuses on how there have been created emotional barriers and how to get through those barriers. Please consider it before you take other action.

Here is the web address for their therapist finder:

On the website you'll also find excellent books by the founders, Sue Johnson and Leslie Greenberg. I recommend letting the therapists you call know your financial situation and seeing who is willing to work on a reduced fee basis. Do NOT be embarrassed. Know what you can actually afford to pay and then negotiate the fee. if the person does not take a reduced fee, fine, keep calling.

The other therapy is Gottman therapy. Yes, the same Gottman as the book above. Seek a therapist who is certified by the Gottman Institute. Here's their web address for finding a therapist:

Why? Because his couples therapy model is the most straightforward model available. I hope that therapists working in these types of couples therapies are listed for your area. If not, find a couples therapist who makes you feel confident in his/her skills and values. But my goal is for the two of you to use Gottman's book to begin to learn the skills you need. He to talk. And you to smile more.

I wish you the very best in this and in the future!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5240
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Dr. Mark and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This was the most thoughtful answer I could have hoped to get. I've never looked at this situation in this manner and I appreciate your perspective. I wish I could have you by my side. I will for sure look into everything that you stated and work on this. My only question is this now....I have severe anger and resentment over the years from all of our issues. How do I let go of anger? I instantly get angry when we have the slightest disagreement, even about something as mundane as cereal type. So I try but it is soooo difficult. I sense a great amount of tension in my muscles and I have to consciously relax my shoulders and back. So I will do this but getting past the anger when speaking to him is my hurdle.
Ironically, this is the first step in mind body work: to bring all one's rage to consciousness. At least in Dr. Sarno's system, that is the methodology. I tend to not be as focused on "rage" or anger like he is but allow for other emotions as being primary. But his system is on the money for you:

You don't know yet how much of your anger at your husband is for HIS shortcomings and thoughtlessness and irksome quirks. And how much is your projection because of your pain more recently and being (in Sarno's language) a "goodist" before the pain came and began to be dominant. A goodist is someone who is a good person and believes in goodness. The good person is the one who stores up rage and winds up in pain...

So, this is one part of your anger and resentment. And it starts the program going: your goal is not to get past anger and resentment. it's to transform it. I can almost guarantee he has anger and resentment. And that it's buried even deeper than yours. You BOTH need to learn how to be emotionally safe with each other. So that you can express your negative emotions without blowing each other out of the water. This will take time. And it might take a therapist in the middle....

But that is the goal. To learn how to trust each other emotionally enough that you're not both storing your emotions for years at a time, making them so huge that if you expressed any of them, they would be too overwhelming. So get started on the program. The key here: don't try to solve everything with one intervention. It took years to get here, give it some time and process...

All the best, Dr. Mark

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