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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
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Im actually needing a perspective in the this pity that I

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I'm actually needing a perspective in the this pity that I have put myself in today. My husband works and travels often which leaves me at home with our 3 kids. Our kids ages are 4, 2, 8m. I don't have family help, and I do attempt to call on sitters to help when he's gone but sometimes that fails since they too have other obligations thru the week.

However, this week I'm more down that I've been in some time and can't seem to get myself out of this fog that I have put myself in. My husband, though he travels for business purposes, is traveling for leisure this week. He went to beautiful beach with a friend to golf and hang out for 4 days. He goes on leisure trips several times a year. He was only suppose to stay a few nights, but sprung on me yesterday he was leaving today. The part the hurts is that I have yet to ever do such a thing. In addition, over time I have developed resentments towards him due to his unfair selfish like ways. I almost feel like if he does that than I should do or get this. But that is not the image of God. I'm really trying to look at this in a positive way but having trouble. I'm not seeing much positive as I'm home cleaning and changing diapers etc..

So, I'm asking if you have any positive perspective outlook so I can get thru the week on a better note?

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how frustrating and distressing this situation must be for you. It's true that you will be helped very much by gaining a positive attitude. I'm concerned, however, that this strategy will work for less and less time each time you make that effort to see things positively. This is because you have a relationship issue that is not just dependent on you and your attitude. A relationship is a great relationship only when two people make it one, not when just one person makes it one. Your husband has to be involved in this effort also.

The short term answer for you is this: I knew a couple who were way ahead of their time. They passed away years ago, but in the 1950s when they raised their children they had a rule: they took 3 vacations a year. One him by himself, one her by herself, and one the whole family. The point here is that there was a recognition that every parent and spouse needs a break. The way for you to instantly feel better is for you to not criticize your husband for his vacation. Rather it is for you to wait until there is no issue in the air burning and to tell him that you need a vacation and you're planning to take one to... (wherever you choose) with girlfriends or family or by yourself. That you need him to take time off from work like he does for vacations to take your shift. So you'd like him to look at his calendar and see when the next soonest available time for him to take another vacation week would be.

If this makes you feel queasy, then the relationship has become too one sided. It has become a situation where you two have lost effective communication between you and it needs to be restored.

Communication is the muscular system of love. And love is the circulatory system. Let me repeat that because it's so important: it's not sex; it's not beauty or looking good; it's not being smart or clever. Communication between the two people is the love muscle; it's the muscular system of love. The desire to give to the other person, to make the other person happy is the heart of love, the circulatory system.

From what you write, the sense you give is that what is happening is not yet atrophy. Atrophy is what happens to muscles when they are not exercised and used regularly. They lose tone and eventually lose ability to activate. And love can atrophy. It slowly wears out until you can't find how to access it any more. But the two of you have stopped being united in your efforts. He doesn't realize how resentful you are and how worn out you're getting. And you're not comfortable sharing with him and confident that he'll see your point of view.

So, 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. You are busy, but this is your marriage. If your spouse had a life threatening illness, you'd find the time. Your marriage has a life threatening illness.

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. Because that's the key to our work here. Okay?

If this work gets you two to first base but not all the way, if it isn't a home run, then consider therapy: 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.

One type of therapy is called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Why this type for you? Because it focuses on how there have been created emotional barriers and how to get through those barriers. 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.

There are not that many therapist who work in these therapies and so I recommended EFT couples therapy knowing that often it's a way to orient you on the type of work you want the therapist you do choose to focus on.

Here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (they show you a photo of the therapist!) look at the listing and see if they list couples therapy in their orientations. Interview the therapist and make sure he/she shares your values and you each feel confident in him or her.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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Dr. Mark and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Hi! I'm very glad that I was able to help you with this and thank you for your positive rating. If I can help you in the future in any way, please don't hesitate to let me know.

All the best,
Dr. Mark