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

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My husband and I have been married for 10 years. I lately have become very ambitious at work and have received several promotions. He feels like I have used him as a stepping stone and someone who could support me while I ruthlessly achieved my life goals. I saw us as a team and that we both provided for our family and that it was his job to support me, just as it is my job to support him. Now he says he can't trust that I won't use him and refuses to show me any affection. He won't touch me or sit next to me and certainly won't have sex with me. In fact, he says he no longer has any affection for me. We have had an incredibly good marriage until my career took off about 3 months ago. In fact, we've had conversations as our friends have gotten divorced about how we couldn't imagine our lives without each other. I can't quit my job, and I feel abused being told that he has no affection for me and won't hug or kiss me or even brush past me. I do not want our marriage to be over. What do I do?
Thanks for your question.

I can see why this would be a frustrating situation for you because you obviously don't have any bad intentions towards your husband or your relationship. If your husband has started to feel overshadowed by the success of your career, it's not uncommon for men to struggle if they feel like their role of being the "provider" has been compromised or taken away from them. It sounds like you have taken the appropriate steps in trying to explain your position and how you feel, but if he doesn't know what he needs from you in order to feel valued and appreciated, there is only so much you can do to help him until he figures that out.

One of the bigger issues that you mentioned is his inability to trust you. He may be struggling for any number of reasons since your career took off, but the fact that he feels like you intentionally used him as a stepping stone or believes that this was only motivated by selfish reasons is troubling. You haven't done anything wrong, and while there may be disagreements on how to handle things moving forward, there does have to be that basic level of trust there in order to start making progress. Even though he may not like the career path you have taken, to decide that he doesn't trust you seems like a drastic conclusion for him to come to, and it leaves you in a no-win situation until that is resolved.

If you find that you are stuck and he cannot bring himself to trust you, it may be best to meet with a marriage counselor together. Part of the difficulty here is that he can't seem to articulate what he needs in order to be happy in this relationship, and that is where counseling may help him to get a better understanding of himself and why this has been so hard for him. At that point it may be a lot easier to start working together on solutions once he understands what the underlying problem was in the first place. I definitely wish you the best with all of this, and if there's anything else I can do to help just let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am also having trouble understanding why he doesn't trust me and he has given me examples where I can see that he has misunderstood my intentions and I have explained my position and he says he doesn't want to argue the details.

I agree that we need that trust in order to rebuild our relationship. We do have an appointment with a counselor together; but I don't know what to do in the meantime. Do I behave normally or do I give him space? Do I try to talk through it, or do I wait until the appointment? Is it okay to show him affection? I hate seeing him pull away. I don't know how to show him I still care.

For now it may help to get a sense of what he is looking for from you. It's definitely a positive sign that he is willing to go to counseling in the first place, so even though he is upset and there have been problems, that does say that there is reason to be optimistic and that he is open to working this out. Right now if he needs space, or wants to talk about it, or wait until the appointment, any of those options are ok as long as you are both on the same page. It sounds like you are willing to work on this with him when he is ready, but if he doesn't understand exactly what the problem is right now, it may be best to give him a little time and space until the appointment when you can start to clear the air about what you've both been going through.

I do understand why you would hate to see him pulling away, but it's certainly possible that is more of a temporary reaction to what he is going through. If he is receptive to affection there is certainly nothing wrong with that, but even if he is not, it's ok to back off for now until some of these larger problems are resolved. Once you've started counseling it may be easier to discuss with him and the counselor how you're unsure how to behave around him, and that may help to create some dialog about how you and your husband can best work together. I certainly respect that you're trying to do the right thing, but a lot of that does depend upon him sending you a clear message as to how you can help him through this. For now, just showing him that you're trying to be considerate and giving him what he needs between now and the counseling session is the best you can do to show him that you care while also being respectful of his space. Hang in there,

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