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  1. #1
    Gothel's Avatar
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    Default Emotionally unavailable dh

    I'm not even sure if that's the right term. Maybe we've just lost the spark and he doesn't love me any more. He says he does, and he's a good husband in many ways and I'm very lucky in many ways. But there's no emotional intimacy and precious little affection. One day I was trying to let him know how much I appreciated all he does to help with the kids, and he said it was his "duty". He works so hard, he never stops, and if I want to spend time with him then I have to work too, because when he does stop it's to sleep. He gets peed off if I try to talk to him in bed because it's sleep time. He's so incredibly focused on renovating our house that he can't see the damage to our relationship. He says it might take another 5 years to finish, and that there's no extra money to throw at it to finish sooner. But I can't take another 5 years of living with a polite house mate. He won't discuss it, he won't fight - he just gets upset if I try to push it and I can't bear to see him upset.
    I'm in the process of organising counselling for us and I'm trying to keep it all together until I can begin to tell him how I'm feeling, hence the vent on here. I don't know if anyone here can help, I just need to let off steam I guess cos I'm at the end of my tether. It's partly my own fault because I haven't communicated how I'm feeling but he's so hard to talk to, he sits down and walls of when I try. Help!

  2. #2
    harvs's Avatar
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    Default Emotionally unavailable dh

    From what you wrote, it certainly sounds as though emotionally unavailable is the right term. I've been there. It's tough. I used to find resistance to communicating so infuriating and hurtful that I used to bottle a lot up, and then it would explode out of me and I wouldn't be able to communicate properly, proving his point that these conversations were never going to end well!

    Has he agreed to counselling? I can't really offer much practical help, except to suggest that if your DH resists counselling then I would highly recommend going on your own. In my situation, I begged and begged for couples counselling, then when that wasn't happening I made the choice to go on my own. He could see how much better I was feeling, then decided maybe he would give it a shot, then agreed to us going together.

    You're very sweet for not wanting to upset your husband, but I believe there are some conversations that need to happen regardless, for your own wellbeing. In the meantime, perhaps you could ask him to set aside just thirty minutes to talk, and let him know what you would like to talk about so that he doesn't feel ambushed and feels as though he has a bit of control as well? I think it's ok to talk in terms of what you need, and to be open to trying to give your husband what he needs as well. Maybe you can let him know that to you, a happy functional relationship is more important than a perfectly renovated house (if that's how you're feeling)?

    Please feel free to vent - I'm sure I'm not the only one around these parts who knows all too well how you're feeling.

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    If he sees all of this as his duty... is it possible that he feels as if he's FAILING in his duty to be a good husband and father? As in... if the house cannot be done sooner due to financial issues, he feels that this is a sign of him failing and THAT is why he is so obsessed with it?

    If that's the case, then the fact he's being a bit emotionally distant may have nothing to do with how he feels for you, and everything to do with how he feels about himself and his responsibilities as a husband and father. It may be something you can talk to him about... but it may not be something you can convince him is irrelevant if he has somehow decided that his worth as a husband is determined by his ability to succeed at his "duties," to his family.

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    Gothel's Avatar
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    Thanks for your reply MrsH, it certainly sounds similar. Did you find counseling helpful? How long did you go for? I'm scared we'll just sit there in silence, or sling accusations. Or that he'll just feel crushed by the things I say - I know he already feels stretched to the limit and when I have tried to talk to him about the lack of affection, he just saw it as more demands.

    He has agreed to come to counselling, at first I said he needs some training in helping me manage my depression, but I have since said we need help with communication. I haven't broached the issue of affection yet. I dread doing the whole heavy "we need to talk" thing. It's so hard to get his attention. Last night after the kids were in bed I said how about a cup of tea? He agreed but we drank it standing up at the kitchen sink, while he pulled on his overalls, switched the outside light on and he kept glancing out at the deck where his next job was lined up. So I just let it go. Again.

    In the past when I've tried to talk about it, he gets so upset, he doesn't sleep afterwards. I try to explain how I feel but I'm never any closer to knowing how he feels. And nothing changes. I've had counselling myself and tried to implement some changes they suggested, but it went nowhere cos he's not on board. One suggestion was to pick an activity to do once a week together, but his activity was to work on the garden together once a week. Very practical but not much fun.

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    Gothel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SassyMummy View Post
    If he sees all of this as his duty... is it possible that he feels as if he's FAILING in his duty to be a good husband and father? As in... if the house cannot be done sooner due to financial issues, he feels that this is a sign of him failing and THAT is why he is so obsessed with it?

    If that's the case, then the fact he's being a bit emotionally distant may have nothing to do with how he feels for you, and everything to do with how he feels about himself and his responsibilities as a husband and father. It may be something you can talk to him about... but it may not be something you can convince him is irrelevant if he has somehow decided that his worth as a husband is determined by his ability to succeed at his "duties," to his family.
    Sassy I hadn't thought of it from that perspective, I don't know. He's very highly motivated anyway, and a perfectionist, but it's just excessive. He won't take ANY time off to catch up with his friends or do his hobbies. I try to tell him to go but he always has a reason he can't.
    And I'm not a highly motivated perfectionist, I'm more of a wing-it & muddle-through person. I feel like he must be constantly disappointed in me because I don't meet his high standards but I've given up trying to keep up. He won't cut any corners, he spent 4 hours removing a brick for plumbing, even though he could have bashed it out in 10 mins with a hammer then repaired with concrete. It's under the deck, no one will EVER see it, but he wanted it done "properly" because he knows it's there. He approaches everything like that. It's exhausting! He imposes those standards on himself and I can't get him to back off. He's got this blinkered vision and its killing us.

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    I almost wish he would stalk me on bh and read this thread, save me the trouble of explaining it all. I don't know if he even knows my user name.

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    That would drive me crazy because I am a wing-it person too.

    Perhaps there is no way to get him to change though... if that's how he is, then is that part of WHO he is? I think HE will have to decide that it's causing issues and change it... you telling him it's causing issues and telling him to change won't make changes... kwim? It has to come from him.

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    That exactly right, I feel helpless to change him. So I guess that's where counselling comes in. His priorities and my priorities are so different. Yes I'd like a nice house, and there are things that need to be done, but it's risking our marriage. I spoke to the gp about it and she said while you're renovating isn't the best time to have marriage counselling, it's such a stressful time. But his plan doesn't work for me.

    It feels good to get this out somewhere, thank you for your replies. I talked to a friend yesterday which was great but the tension just builds up again and I don't want to burden anyone.

  9. #9
    harvs's Avatar
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    I guess renovating is stressful. You know what else is stressful? An unhappy marriage! In our case, counselling didn't work to save our marriage, but even my husband acknowledged that had we gone earlier then it may well have...

    What we did get was a chance for us each to have our feelings validated, a mediator, and, and this is the most amazing thing that I'm most grateful for, a very intelligent counsellor who managed to get my husband to bond with his son.

    I am in general pretty opposed to asking people to change fundamental aspects of themselves (ie, being a wing-it kind of person myself, I don't see how I could ever be any different), but at the very least going to counselling will force your husband away from whatever is distracting him at the time and really listen to you. He loves you, so clearly doesn't want you to be unhappy. I'm a big fan of talking things through, so I certainly don't think counselling can hurt...


 

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