Thank you for your patience in answering those questions.
Given what he has said, it seems to me to be extremely important to find out why, in what areas, he feels unappreciated. Sometimes, when people have been together for a while, they y feel that their partner takes them for granted.
There are so many possible reasons for people feeling that way, and so that things can be sorted out, each partner needs to know the specifics. For example, you need to know what makes him feel that way. Is it sex, or lack of it? Does he feel misunderstood? Does he feel you don’t listen? Does he think that you only value him because he works hard to provide the material things that you both want or need?
Until you know the answers to those questions, it is almost impossible for you to meet his needs - if indeed that is what you want to do.
Let’s face it. The first flush of love between two people is such that almost anything is acceptable, almost anything can be forgiven. Sadly, with the passage of time, things change. What was exciting becomes boring. What was admirable "Gee, I love the way you always dress to please me" or " I really admire the way you work for us, so we can be comfortable" becomes boring. Taken for granted.
I wonder if he is thinking " I failed. I lost that job. She only thought of me as a meal ticket".
I know that is not the case, but it seems to me that his self esteem has taken a body blow. Even if you have not been critical, here comes someone who tells him he is great, admirable perhaps, all that a woman could want. No wonder it is going to his head.
Fine. So far we have an idea of what he may be going through. What about you?
This a very common problem, and you are not alone. The hard thing to understand at first is no matter what you do, he may not change, but the chances are he will.
It’s time for parenting in reverse!
We humans only indulge in behaviour that brings reward of some kind. Only when that reward (whatever it might be) disappears, or the consequences of our behaviour promise to be unpleasant do we consider changing what we do. Like a child, your husband is going to have to learn to accept boundaries, and you have to give him reason to change
Your husband needs to be confronted with unacceptability of his relationship with this friend, and made to understand while you care for him, his behaviour towards you is unacceptable and has to change. Make that very clear to him.
He also needs to understand that if it continues there will be unpleasant consequences. They need to be spelled out to him very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately.
Make it crystal clear to him what you expect – no more testing or contact. If he wants your relationship to be close, then that is what is going to cost.
This may sound harsh, but unless he is given a reason to change, he will not. By being soft, you are just encouraging his behaviour, and not helping him at all.
Stay calm, remain objective and avoid drama, but stick to your guns. NEVER scream or shout – always keep focused on what you want out of a discussion and remember if you resort to screaming and shouting, you’ve lost the argument.
He says he loves you. Fine. But he needs to understand that saying it and showing it are two different things. Please make sure that you want to discuss and resolve your differences and to do what you can to help him feel better, but that in the end of the day, you will not play second fiddle.
This is hard to do, but if you don’t, you face a very bleak future.
Have faith in yourself!
My very best wishes,
PS. I have just read your little second post, and given this, I think it would help if you could say something along the lines of " I´m sorry. I had no idea how hard it was for you, working away from home an feeling so unsupported. If I had known, I would never have let that happen."