marriage help — The Bump
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marriage help

I'm at the beginning of my 3rd trimester, and bottomed out in terms of loneliness, sadness, etc when it comes to the quality of my marriage right now.  My frustration primarily stems from the fact that my husband is willing to help in all kinds of ways, but only when I ask him, outright and with details, for some kind of help or support.  He will make dinner if I ask him outright, plan the recipe, buy the groceries, etc.  He will listen to me when I talk to him, if I make an issue of it and ask for his attention.  He will have sex with me if I ask him to (i.e. coming to bed in lingerie, naked, etc). He will spend time with me if I plan an activity or ask him point blank.  There is very little he does without my asking him (other than video games).  And if I do ask him to do something simple ("Will you take this toilet paper to the downstairs bathroom?"), I later find the TP on the counter, next to the sink, rather than under the cabinet where it belongs.  Last week, when I said that I had to work late, then get groceries, he made plans to join friends for happy hour, when it would have been REALLY great to have him offer to get the groceries himself.

This is not really new to our marriage/relationship, although early on he was more inclined to do things for me and our marriage without my nudging or asking, but that has definitely tapered off.  One of the things I fell in love with about him was his interest in and willingness to plan our dates -- he always had a restaurant, activity, dessert spot, etc., all picked out and arranged.  And the pregnancy/emotions/hormones basically mean that I'm no longer very tolerant of the feeling that I have to initiate or ask for every bit of attention or help from him -- I'm much more inclined to just do it myself, or skip it.  

The question is --what do I do?  Keep quiet, and hope it gets better?  Professional counseling (if so, can anyone recommend a good person in the Leesburg, VA area?)?  Conversation starters? 

Every time I try to think through the conversation I know that we need to have, it basically comes out sounding like lots of accusations about nit-picky things, and that isn't going to solve the problem.  I'm afraid that labor/deliver will be terrible because I will have to think of, and ask for, any/all support, encouragement, etc.  Of course, I realize that a ton of this is completely my fault, because my attitude toward it is what has changed -- he hasn't changed, at least not drastically or particularly recently, and I don't honestly expect him to ever have a dramatic 180 reversal.  I just need to figure out strategies to cope, either to move him a little bit more toward what I need (anticipating, and thinking through my needs), and/or to give myself strategies to let things go, look at things in a more positive light, or ask for things in a different way.

Wow, sorry for the crazy long post.  If you've read this far, thank you.  If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions, please let me know!

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Re: marriage help

  • My husband and I found the book "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman really helpful at a time when neither of us felt our relationship needs were being met. I learned that my husband felt most loved when I did "acts of service" for him (like doing the dishes, going to the grocery store, taking care of a chore he really hates) and when I made sure to acknowledge and praise him for all the things he does. Because that is how he feels loved, that's how he would try to show his love for me, but those things really didn't make me feel loved. The book helped us define how to make each other feel loved and gave us a way to talk about our emotional needs. A couple of years after first reading the book, I was feeling frustrated and told my husband, "you're not loving me in my love language." He got out his book and was reminded that I needed him to show his love in different ways.

    The book also talks about why it often seems like people are different or better or more in tune to the other person's needs at the beginning of a relationship, but after two or more years, things start to change. Maybe the book would help?

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  • Katie,

     I've heard of that book, and from what you've said, I think you're right that right now, we're not speaking each other's love languages.  His is physical touch, and mine is acts of service/quality time.  I'll see if I can find a copy of the book to look at it again. I could use some ideas for ways to let him know that it is okay to reach out to me in HIS love language (touch) even if I don't initiate it or ask him to.  That's part of what I'm struggling with right now -- he isn't using my love languages or his own, unless I come right out and ask him.  I think somehow I must be giving a signal that I don't want him to reach out to me or touch me, but that's not true.  It's a frustrating cycle!

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  • Can you just tell him what you've told us? I think without getting into all the nitpicky details, you could say something like, "I feel like you don't do things for me - or for us, really - unless I ask you to do them. It's making me stressed out when I feel like I'm managing everything. It would make me feel better if you made dinner without me asking a few nights a week, handled X, Y and Z chores without being prompted, and set up a date for us every two weeks." 

    Maybe he just feels like he doesn't know what to do or that you do things 'better' (or maybe he's just being lazy). I'd try being very concrete up-front.

    My DH, at least, responds well to that sort of thing... I've told him before, "It makes me feel stressed out when it seems I have to be the one to manage our chores," and he's stepped up. Although I admit I usually frame it in very gentle terms... like, "You know I'm crazy and type A, but I can't handle everything, I need you..." lol.

  • I know someone already suggested this but I will tell you anyway.  My husband and I are avid church goers.  Every sunday and one of our lessons was the 5 love languages.  It is a great way to learn to understand each other and once you know what language you speak its easier to get your husband to understand why you feel the way you do and it will help you both to comunicate better.  Its a great lesson.  Also I don't know how religous you are but I find counsling thourgh a church always seems to make a dramatic impact when me and mine are having a hard time.

  • My husband told me this "if you want a guy to do something, ask". He said most guys don't respond to hints, him being one. If I want him to do something, I just ask, and he goes and does it.

    Men and women think very differently when it comes to getting things done, esp. the not so fun chores.

    GL! 

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  • I am currently in a situation very similar to this, although it is my husband who is freaking out a little more than me.  We found a great therapist that is covered by our insurance so it is literally a 20 dollar copay.  Her name is Maria Mercado and she works with Riverside Counseling on Riverside Parkway in Landsdowne.  I would def. recommend having a third party hear both of your sides.  For us, even after the first session we felt there was a change.  

    I am very much a "read a book and see if there is a solution" kind of person, but with being pregnant and not wanting to put undo stress on the baby, I decided (along with him) that we needed a stronger intervention that was consistent.  (we go once a week)  Plus, Ms. Maria can def. help with the coping strategies and "new" issues that might arise as you problem solve through the next couple of months, which as we all know are going to involve a lot of changes and def. require some help from our hubbies.

     I wish you lots of luck and don't be afraid to seek out help.  It is great to have someone else start the conversations for you in an environment that is safe and effective.

    Best of luck and I hope it gets better :) 

    Stefanie Pregnancy Ticker
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