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Ryan LCSW, Mental Health
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 872
Experience:  Individual and Family Therapist
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I have been married 10 years- together 12. My husband has

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I have been married 10 years- together 12. My husband has been unhappy for most of our marriage (he says). He does admit we have had happy moments- but we haven't had happy periods of time... It's been one thing/ aggravation after another. We have had a very difficult road from when we first met- family issues, family medical issues, monetary issues- he doesn't think I was emotionally ready to get married. He is a very independent person- he feels I relied too much on my family- and did everything to please my family and he was put last...He loves me as a person, mother...but says it's hard to feel in love when there is soooo much built up hurt and resentments and frustration and even maybe anger. I love him so much and want to do anything to save my marriage. We are in counseling. But he doesn't see it as so helpful. he feels like we are just regurgitating all the past stuff that aggravates him. I have apologized to him and told him I want things to change, I want him to be #1 and feel that way... But he just keeps saying he can't go another 10 years feeling so miserable and maybe we weren't the best spouse choice for each other. I agree that I didn't see what was happening or recognize it at the time. Now I do. And his response is I am so glad you have had an epiphany and want things to change. But he has been carrying around this burden, this weight, this feeling of hell for years and years- He periodically mentioned to me he was unhappy with our life style and the life we have made together-and things needed to change... I guess I just never realized the TRUE impact or understood what the change meant. He is terrified to think about separating but he can't ever think of being able to forget the past and at this point he doesn't know if he wants to try because he can't see how thing could possible change or his feeling of complete emptiness and void can change if he stays in this.
Thanks for your question.

I'm terribly sorry to hear about what you've been going through with your husband. Sometimes it is very difficult to recognize these problems until it gets to a critical point, but you are obviously open to working on the relationship and making some changes, and that is very important moving foward. Despite your husband having a hard time with this, there are still some encouraging signs. The fact that he is willing to go to counseling with you at all does show that even though he is hurt, there is still some side of him that is willing to explore the idea of making this relationship work. Because of that, there is still certainly hope that things can improve as long as you both stick with it.

Sometimes during the course of counseling things can actually feel like they are getting worse before they get better. He is having the opportunity to express a lot of feelings that it sounds like he has been holding inside for a long time, and that can be a very difficult process to go through and bring up a lot of the old anger/resentment. However it is important for your relationship in the long term for him to be able to express all of this and go through those feeling so that he can eventually get past it and put it aside in order to move forward. Despite the fact that he is saying that he can't see things changing, just the fact that he is able to express himself and that you are listening and being there for him can help that change occur.

As long as he is still willing to go to counseling with you and process these feelings, there is still hope that things will start to improve. You are approaching all of this from a different perspective than you may have in the past, and it may take a little while for him to see that and feel like he is in the right frame of mind to give this a proper chance again. The things he has said have all got to be very difficult to hear, however the hope is that given the chance to express his frustrations and be taken seriously, you will both eventually be able to start working together to make the changes you both need to be happy.

I definitely wish you the best with all of this, and if there's anything else I can do to help please let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your insight. I just feel like I am at a stand still.

I don't know how to help him see that it's worth fighting for... He doesn't want to be intimate with me or even hold my hand. It has been like this for a while. Not to this extreme though. Now I know why. He says it not that he is not attracted to me- it isn't about that. He just keeps saying this is all very heady stuff. It was our 10 year anniversary the other day- and we were given the gift of going away together--- everything seemed so forced like we were just rying to make it through the anniversary... He gave me this card that he thought was the nicest thing after we had our counseling session that day (on our anniversary). It made me soooo sad. He basically was thanking me for being such a wonderful amazing person. And telling me that I deserve everything wonderful and I am the best mom in the world...the Happy Anniversary--- nothing about us except saying that no matter what happens with us he only wants the most wonderful things for me. It made me so sad. I try not to talk to him about anything until we are in our counseling sessions... but even then, I don't want to say the wrong thing... I don't know what I can or should do to help this improve...

I can see why that card would make you so sad. It's a very difficult position for you to be in because sometimes there's not necessarily anything that you can "do" in order to help move things along until he has gotten to the point himself where he is also ready to do that. I can understand why you would be nervous about saying the wrong thing at the counseling sessions, but at the same time this is a point where honest feelings need to be expressed so that trust and a solid foundation can be built if that is still possible. A lot of times things may feel like they are at a standstill, when really he just needs this time to vent and get a lot of his frustrations out. While it doesn't feel like progress, it can be in the long run if this leads to him starting to feel more understood.

Right now the best thing you may be able to do is just continue to listen to him and be honest with him in the counseling sessions about how you feel. Your intentions are obviously good, but the thing that is complicating this is all of these feelings that he has been holding inside of him for so long. As long as he is continuing to attend counseling with you and has an environment where he feels that he can discuss those feelings with you, it will eventually start to lead to some more productive dialog once he has gotten through his issues that are holding him back from working on this. Hang in there,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We both come from difficult family backgrounds. My parents divorced when I was in high school. Bad divorce. His parents divorced after we got married. His father was an alcoholic (now recovered:-)). My husband is a very strong and independent man. He never went to counseling to discuss his feelings about growning up with an alcoholic father. He says it is what it is and that's why he doens't have a close relationship with him. Although, now they talk a lot more. He dealt with alotgrowing up-- worrying if his father was going to come home, have to drive his father places because his father wasnt able-- have to get his dad from jail for on his 18th bday... he has always been very protective of his family. He, I feel, took on the male figure in his family for his mom and sister. My husband admits people just bother him and he doesn't have alot of patience for alot of people. He has gone through some serious stuff himself- hurt by his best friend... building a businees from scratch (which is taking tons of time...) I think he has soooo much resentment towards me and feels like it is such a shame that the last 10 years have been so heavy , difficult and unhappy- and because he doesnt see how change is possible he doesnt want to risk being unhappy in the future and doesn't know if he wants to... he doesnt think time will make things better. When I ask hims if he wants a divorce he says- he is not packing his bags today and leaving--- he just feels like there is no good answer and he is so angry and frustrated that it has even gotten to this point--- Our therapist suggested that he go and speak with someone on his own to work on his anger and frustration- but he isn't sure and doesn't think thats something he wants to do or needs to do.... When we started talking about things this weekend- he was so frustrated and said he need space and went to stay at his moms Sat. night. When we saw each other yesterday- it was nice- he relaxed- we kinda hung out and chatted and it was nice.... Please give me some advice:-)!!!

I agree with your therapist that it is important for him to work out some of his personal issues in order for you to be able to work on your relationship together. That seems to be the predominate issue right now holding everything back. You may be correct that he has a lot of resentment towards you, but there is only so much you can do if he is going to hold you accountable for things that you no longer have control over. I would love to give you some advice on how to help him, but it is a very common mistake to think that in a situation like this there is something that you can "do" to move this along. In actuality sometimes the best thing to do is just to listen to your partner and give them the space they need in order to process their own feelings, which can be difficult and take some time. However, in order to move forward, he needs to be in the same frame of mind that you are, and there is no one who can get him to that point but himself. As long as it is completely clear to your husband that you are willing to listen to him and work on any problems that come up, you have done your part. Hopefully the relaxing time spent yesterday is a positive sign of things to come and something that you can continue to build on. If he were to also attending individual counseling to work through some of these problems that you mentioned that would also be a very encouraging sign. Whether he feels like this relationship can work or not, hopefully he can see the value in individual counseling. Once he is there and has talked through some of these personal problems, some of the relationship issues may be much easier to work on or even start to resolve themselves. All the best,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Do you think there is still hope even if he wont go to counseling himself? How long do I give him this space? I am nervous he is going to feel he doesn't need me if I am not present? Is it best for me not to bring anything up with him and just try and have platonic fun with him? Do I ask him on my own to go to individual counseling to see if he can move past our negative history and see some glimmer of hope for our future together? Or does he need to come up with that on his own? Should I ask our counselor for tools to help us move forward together? Does he have to on his own decide he wants to try- until he says that do I just sit on the sidelines? I told him I want to work on things- but he needs to figure out if he can. He keeps saying he is empty and has nothing to give right now.

Many of these questions are questions that your husband needs to answer. He should be able to tell you what kind of space he needs, and whether or not he wants to try and work on these issues between counseling sessions. For some couples it's important to have fun and relax in between sessions and try to have some positive experiences together. Other couples want tools and homework that they can do between sessions. Either way is fine so long as you and your husband are both on the same page.

At some point he is going to have to be willing to try on his own. If you are comfortable talking to him about individual counseling and you feel that he may be receptive, there's certainly nothing wrong with suggesting it. It may be easier to bring it up in your counseling session or to suggest that you both go to individual counseling if you feel like he may be defensive about it. He doesn't need to come up with the idea on his own, but in order for this to work he does have to come up with the desire on his own. As long as that desire to get past these problems is there, there is still hope regardless of whether or not he is in individual counseling. Right now the hope is that this is one of the common phases that people go through when they work through their anger and resentment, and that he will get past this so that he can focus more on working with you to move forward.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your advice. It sounds like the fact that he is still here is somewhat of a positive. He has said that he can't see time changing how he feels. Do people with his personality say that but then time happens and things can hopefully change? He is so strong willed and has cut people out of his life that have made him unhappy in the past. His old businees partener, even extended family members who have both hurt him and his mother and sister. He has no feelings for them. I brought this up to him at one point- and his response is I will never cut you our of my life. We will always be entwined as we have 2 amazing children together... But I am his wife--- aren't we supposed to be together through the thick and thin- and hopefully the thin is in the past??? He keeps saying that he is happy for me for the changes I am making--- not for us... he keeps saying that no matter what our relationship is he will always be here for me... I am nervous he is in therapy to ensure a good relationship in case we do split... I just keep thinking of the past and he says I really shouldn't be surprised--- and he can't help how he feels-- even witht he talking over the last almost 4 weeks- he doesn't feel any relief.... and that it's not for me to give him that relief.... I just feel so helpless and stuck and scared....and frustrated that the man I love-- that even though we have been living unhappily for so long--- that now that we have hit the bottom is contemplating opting out--- then he gets mad at me that I am puttingit on him... But- I feel like it's up to him to make the choice to try or not...

I"m glad I could help. If you wouldn't mind leaving me a positive review for my time I'd really appreciate it. People say a lot of things when they are angry and upset, so I wouldn't read too much into it unless things reach a critical point where he is obviously not longer willing to work on any of this. Right now I agree that the fact that he is still there and attending counseling is much more positive than it may feel at the moment. Four weeks of talking through these issues isn't enough to unwind a lifetime of him holding some of these feelings in, as well as 10-12 years of struggling with certain aspects of your relationship. He's not going to feel relief yet, but this is the process that will get him to that point as he works through all of these difficult feelings that he has put to the side for so long. I agree that it is up to him whether he will try or not to work on your relationship, but he may not be capable of trying until he has worked through some of these personal issues. As long as he is working on that and is processing those feelings, then even if he isn't necessarily actively working on your relationship, there is reason to be optimistic that he is working towards that point where he will be.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much. It is nice to hear about the hope you see...I appreciate your time.

If this has been helpful and you wouldn't mind leaving me a positive review it would be much appreciated. I hope all of this goes well for you and if I can ever be of any help in the future please let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, I definitely will! On more question. Do you think I should be going out of my way to make him feel extra special? Like number 1. I told him I want him to be my best friend-- I promise going forward I will be his. He says I can't promise that. I said I can promise that that's what I want. When I have been saying goofy stuff to him-- he asks me in a nice way why I am being so weird. I am constantly complementing him. Telling him h handsome he is... I don't want it to seem fake-- but I want him to feel special- but I also don't want to make him feel claustrophobic. I want him to remember why he fell in love with me.... and remember that I can make him feel good... I just don't remember how to? Do you have any suggestions? I know I can't initiate intamicy with him- because he has told me numerous times his head is not in that place... and then when I make bad jokes- about that- I think it aggrivates him-- but I feel like I need something positive. He told me yesterday on the phone the he loved me- but it may have been reflexive. It made me feel sooo happy. I just don't want to hang on every word or action on swaying how I feel. We are meeting withthe counselor next Monday- do you have any tricks or activities I could suggest we do in the meantime?

A lot of these answers depend on what he wants/needs from you at the moment. If he is appreciates your gestures, then it seems fine to continue with that. If he seems to be overwhelmed or uncomfortable, then you know it's time to back off. At this point it is more about listening and understanding what he needs in order to get through this and trying to work with him on his level. There aren't any tricks are activities that are going to work with only yourself putting them into place. If you were both open to working on some relationship tricks and activities, then it can be very productive. But for you to be trying different approaches or techniques while the thing he needs most is space and understanding is going to be counterproductive. Right now the best thing you can do is to talk to him and get a sense of what he needs, and how you can support that. If you go overboard with the compliments or trying to make him feel extra special it's going to start to feel fake and forced to both of you, so I would encourage you to act as normal and as much like yourself as you can. If he's going to remember why he fell in love with you, it's going to be because he appreciates who you are, and has worked through enough of his own issues to the point where he is willing to give this another try.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much.