Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

My DH appears to have no emotions

(77 Posts)
coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 21:56:54

I've just been reading another thread about men who don't show emotions. DH and I have been struggling for a long time due to his apparent lack of emotion and affection. We are at stalemate - I think he lacks emotion, he thinks I am too emotional. Hugs are rare. He doesn't know what to do if I cry. He doesn't get excited for me or even angry at me. Yet he seems genuinely confused if I question whether he loves me.

So I am well aware we have issues. However I have just realised in ten years of being together:

I have never seen him cry
He has never got angry or raised his voice / shouted
We have never had an argument as he does not engage
I have never known him get truly excited about anything
I don't think he has ever laughed 'properly'

I have always thought his lack of emotions strange...but this isn't normal is it?

And more importantly how do you cope? I think I am likely having an emotional affair - certainly I turn to a male friend for emotional support not DH but that is because DH just doesn't seem to recognise emotion. Without leaving I'm not sure what the solution is...

thewhistler Fri 16-Nov-12 21:58:45

Am about to pm you.

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 22:01:44

Was he the same when you were going out together/getting married?
What do others say about him?

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 22:13:18

Thanks whistler.

Amillionyears - yes I think so and I take responsibility for choosing to marry him. However... I was very young (21 when I got married) and had come from a very angry partner and had a father who was an emotional, abusive alcoholic...he was the opposite. It's only as I've matured and found some confidence that I've started questionning it more.

Others? He has no real friends. He speaks to people in work and that's it. He sees an old friend probably once a year for a couple of hours. He doesn't text / FB. He has no hobbies. He goes to work and comes home. He won't socialise with my friends. His parents are distant - he probably sees them a few times a year.

However he shows the children lots of affection suggesting he can.

ecclesvet Fri 16-Nov-12 22:13:57

So he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve and due to this 'fault' you blame him for your emotional affair. Hmm...

Whatnowffs Fri 16-Nov-12 22:16:50

are you affectionate to him or does he rebuff that?

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 16-Nov-12 22:17:06

I think you are confusing having feelings with performing feelings. Being reserved, quite, and disinclined to weep and cackle and howl and slobber all over the place isn't wrong - we just currently live in an overly sentimental culture.

I imagine you married your H because he was decent, trustworthy and stable. It may be that you have outgrown him and you are no longer suited, and if that's so it's not such a bad thing to decide to part. But just because he has a different attitude to the displaying of emotions to yours doesn't make him bad.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 22:20:37

No Eccles not at all. I don't blame him but I don't know what to do. I can't live without affection.

I also don't understand when an EA is an EA. Talking to someone else about important stuff more? Sharing emotions more? Yes...but he won't and doesn't understand. I want to share it with him but he doesn't get it.

There is a difference between wearing his heart on his sleeve and not getting emotion. He won't sleep in the same bed as me as he doesn't understand why you would. He won't sit on a sofa next to me as he likes space and doesn't understand cuddling up to someone. If I cry he just stares at me. The midwife got more excited when the babies were born compared to him.

I don't want to have an affair. I don't want to leave him. But if you can't share emotions, dreams, thoughts, anger, stress, happiness with do you have a relationship? And are you then banned from sharing them with anyone else?

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 22:20:43

ecclesvet, the way her DH reacts or doesnt, seems to go a lot deeper than "he doesnt wear his heart on his sleeve".
Actually while I am here, other MNetters might like to take note, that if you put "DH" in the title of your thread, it attracts certain posters.

ooh, interesting that he shows the children lots of affection.
tbh, I am not a professional, so am struggling with this.
I was going to suggest a couple of things, but if he shows the children affection, that may be different.
Does he show emotion with other peoples children?

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 22:22:44

Is this autism or aspergers?
Dont know enough about either to know for sure.

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 22:23:50

What job does he do?
Dont answer that if you dont want to.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 22:24:17

He certainly has a different attitude to displaying emotions. I'm not expecting a drama smile but sometimes...some emotion. Perhaps an I love you occasionally. Or a hug.

ImperialBlether Fri 16-Nov-12 22:28:07

What do you think his reaction would be if you said you wanted to separate?

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 22:28:54

Job - a very practical one that doesn't involve people.

He doesn't really go near any other children so it's hard to tell.

He is certainly decent, trustworthy and stable smile but I can't tell him anything as he just won't react - no excitement or sympathy or understanding. He doesn't ask how my day is - we can't talk about events that happen.

I've gradually stopped showing affection as he doesn't respond. I've explained I need more affection so he robotically gives me a peck on the lips when he leaves the house. I can't remember the last proper kiss or spontaneous hug.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 22:30:43

Imperial - I have suggested it. He simply didn't understand. He thinks the relationship is fine. He was confused as to why I thought he didn't love me after all 'he married me didn't he - why would he need to say he loved me?' ... 9 years ago.

He thinks marriage is automatically for get married and that is it.

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 22:34:02

What is he like when watching tv
Does he show any emotion then?
Does he say smile at a baby, or laugh. Does he watch the news?

What was his childhood like?

tbh, I am not sure I know the answer to this one.
Am sort of partly bumping, as hoping someone can come along who will know the answer.
Have you ever discussed it with your GP?

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 22:43:52

He either likes practical programmes where they build something or road cops / paramedics - anything with people in pain or danger it appears. Whereas I flinch he has no reaction. He comes home from work, put tv on and sits there til he goes to bed. No internet, no books, no games, no conversation....

I'm actually a psychologist (academic not practising). I know the signs of AS. I am just loathe to label him myself and don't get whether it is him...or me...or my reaction to him. I'm not blaming him - I'm just at the end of my tether knowing how to enjoy our relationship.

For example I had a really important event/outcome type thing in work this week and came home so excited...'oh that's good' he said and carried on watching tv.

I can share emotions and news with other people - but I don't know what is left any more to share with him.

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 22:53:52

My next post was probably going to say to consult a psychologist. Sounds like he is what he is.
Do you think he watches people in pain or danger, to try and trigger some emotion in himself?
Would he care if he died? I mean that in a sort of way of, what is he like about funerals sort of way.

Does he think or know he is different to other people?
Does he care if he is?
In what ways does he show his emotions to the children?
Does he play with them?

Sorry for all the questions.

totalinjection Fri 16-Nov-12 22:59:01

He sounds quite similar to DH. I have known him for 7 years and also never seen him cry, raise his voice, get excited, we never argue. My personal hunch with DH is that he's somewhere on the spectrum - I have a DS with AS and am also dx myself so I have researched it quite a lot. I'm also not a massively emotional person, so it works pretty well for us!

I rarely get sentimental and DH and I rarely tell each other that we love each other. My logic is actually a bit similar to your DH - I've told my DH that I loved him before, I'm sure he remembers me saying it, so why would I keep saying it?!

Having said that, I have learned to make modifications with my behaviour. I hug more because I understand that other people seem to need it (though actually I find it a bit of an invasion in my personal space). And I will politely coo over babies without really feeling much enthusiasm.

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 22:59:48

Actually I have 2 more, then bedtime for me.
Has his life ever been in danger, or the childrens,and if so, how did he react.
And now a silly question.
If you started acting like a child, might he then show you affection? I know you wouldnt want to do that, but I am wondering what he would do about it.

ecclesvet Fri 16-Nov-12 23:09:07

amillionyears, when I was writing the OP had only posted the original post. Her later posts do show someone who is far more than just introverted, I agree.

AnyFucker Fri 16-Nov-12 23:16:15

If you started acting like a child, would he show you more attention ?

What sort of Bollocks is this ?

meditrina Fri 16-Nov-12 23:22:32

His myriad faults do not give you 'permission' to embark on an emotional affair.

If your marriage is intolerable, then end it and forge ahead into your own pattern in life.

It will only make your life harder if you bring in a third party to your marriage and start investing intimacy and emotional energy to them. Do you already have exchanges with your 'friend' that you would be embarrassed if your DH witnessed? It might be better to find a different confidante whilst you work out if you still want your marriage.

AboutToSelfDestruct Fri 16-Nov-12 23:26:10

Coffee, your posts have really struck a chord for me. I will try and pm you over the weekend as I could have written almost everything you have said. How does he feel about your close male friend? Would he consider counselling?

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Sat 17-Nov-12 01:44:24

Actually, it does sound like he may 'have Aspergers'. Which is just another way of saying that he is different to you.. That doesn't make him a bad person. It just makes him someone who can't give you what you want.

So your options are:
End your marriage and look for someone who displays or performs emotions (though doing so is no guarantee of someone being a good person or a good partner)
Get your emotional needs met from friends and family
Talk to your H about the fact that you have emotional needs that need to be met, and ask him if he would object to you meeting those needs with someone else (in terms of a romantic/emotional Other Person), and what his boundaries would be ie you can hug and kiss but no shagging, or you can discuss feelings but no snogging...

Meet your emotional/romantic needs with someone else and don't tell your H.

The option that is NOT available is: Force your H, with a combination of counselling, drugs and Everybodyelsesopinions, into displaying emotions, regularly and obediently.

orchidee Sat 17-Nov-12 02:25:20

I could have written this. You are not alone.

Ex-P is exactly like this. It's like he genuinely doesn't understand that other people have emotional needs. Completely flat emotionally, never excited or fed up. No friends, no interest in having any... Any nights out or holidays were my doing. He seemed to enjoy them as much as anything else but no interest in planning them, nothing special to him.

He was more demonstrative, happy etc in our first year together. I think I hung around thinking it was possible to get that back. Eight years later... Living a celibate life with no emotional connection, no discussions past trivial day to day things. He was floored when I said I wasn't happy living like flatmates sharing a home but not sharing our lives. Like he couldn't understand that it wasn't enough.

He's now quite cuddly with our child.

I suspect some puzzles can't be solved but I'm interested in this thread.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 08:31:32

AF, I asked what he would do about it?
It just seems strange that he is able and willing and understands to show his children affection.
Which means that he does have emotions I would have thought?, and is able to show them in certain circumstances, and seems to know appropriate times to do so.
Which brings me again to my question, what would happen if the op acted childlike?
Not meaning, that is a be all and end all answer to her problems.
I am just exploring some ideas.
This poster and it sounds like orchidee have stayed with their DHs till now.
Maybe they will stay. If they stay, they need ideas. Which may or may not work.Ideas may have to be explored and discarded. As I also said upthread, the more this is bumped, the more ideas may come in.

Right, so re acting childlike. I am thinking, eg if say her DH hugged the children , and she bent down, would he hug her too?
Just asking the question, and I am wondering what would happen. Would he get confused, what would he do?

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 08:38:16

The op has said she doesnt want to have an affair, and she doesnt want to leave him.

coffee, re your last post.
It does sound like it is all him.
I think if I were you I would look into AS more.
It doesnt mean you or anyone else has to label him.
He may not be AS.
There may be some clues in what other people have written on the internet and elsewhere, to "knowing how to enjoy our relationship".

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sat 17-Nov-12 11:40:58

Thank you for the responses. I don't want an affair - I just don't understand EA really - where the line is in between getting emotional support from others.

He really doesn't seem to understand emotion or the need for it. He knows I would not have sex with said male friend...therefore he isn't worried about anything else as that isn't important - does that make any sense? For example he knows friend has gone out of his way to do things for me or I can sit and chat to him for hours but for DH that isn't linked to a relationship so no threat? I can't really explain it.

I get the logic of the acting like a child - I do wonder sometimes if demanding affection from him would get it. But I don't want forced affection. Nor do I want to make him change - he is who he is - a decent man who doesn't interact emotionally.

Life threatening situation - yes once when pregnant and I had to go to the hospital immediately - pre eclampsia, possible c section. I rang him and he told me to keep him updated and he'd try and pop in after work...oh but to ring him if the baby was about to be born. Another time I went into labour as he was leaving for work and he just carried on - walked out the door cheerily telling me to give him a ring when I needed to leave for the hospital.

Orchidee - I have also hung on as I hope he will change.

I don't want to leave - he is great with the DC's - hands on, does take them out - they love him. He is a decent man. But he is really like a flatmate / brother to me rather than partner. I miss the hugs, sharing thoughts, emotional support. I know he won't give that to am back to square one...

totalinjection Sat 17-Nov-12 11:55:31

I can't speak for your DH coffee, but I can try to explain AS thinking around the hospital situation. If I knew someone (even a loved one) was in hospital, I would trust the medical staff to deal with the situation so I wouldn't rush there after work. Logically there would seem to be no value in my being there since I wouldn't have the medical skills to deal with any emergency. I think I wouldn't get upset because I would see no point to it, it would not improve the situation or make you feel any better.
And as for going into labour - well, we all know that labour takes hours and hospitals will send patients home if they arrive too early, so again I would think that there was no need for me to be there until things were really happening. Indeed, I have always continued as normal (often on my own) until quite late in my labours.

I suppose most women would just want reassurance and hand-holding in situations like that, even if the probability of anything going seriously wrong is quite minimal, and perhaps they need the show of emotion to feel cared for. But I don't relate to that as a person with AS, and if your DH has AS too (which sounds likely) he will probably analyse the situation and weigh up the risks and respond appropriately, rather than acting purely on emotions which many people do, but is not the best guarantee of a good outcome.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 12:01:23

EA, do you mean emotional abuse?
I dont think itn be abusing you if he doesnt know he is doing anything wrong.
If you called it neglect, again, if he doesnt realise he is neglecting you, he isnt doing it to you on purpose.
He looks after things matter of factly doesnt he.
To him, that is the caring bit.
I wonder if he could be trained. Dont much like that word in this circumstance.He wouldnt understand your need, and wouldnt need it himself, but does sound like he would do eg hug, put an arm around you etc if asked.

ecclesvet Sat 17-Nov-12 12:04:31

I think EA here means emotional affair.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 17-Nov-12 12:04:44

Does your DH express 'passion' about anything at all? A hobby, sport or political party, for example? The lack of concern about the pre-eclampsia episode would have been it for me, I'm afraid. How can a man like that love anyone?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 17-Nov-12 12:09:25

I also don't think you're having an emotional affair btw. If someone is living in an emotional desert any human interaction, any friendship, any confidant(e) is going to instantly score higher than their partner. You can't therefore call it an 'emotional affair' simply because you're experiencing normal human relationships.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 12:15:54

oh, emotional affair.
That is why I have sometimes not gone onto threads,as I thought EA meant emotional abuse, so didnt understand.
tbh, when I first joind MN, I thought all the EA references were meaning estate agents. I thought MNetters were quite obsessed about estate agents!
Sorry for the misunderstanding op, and the flippancy.
I think Cogito has explained well about emotional affair.

FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda Sat 17-Nov-12 12:17:19

Doesn't sound like Asperger's to me.

OP says he doesn't have an hobbies. Aspies have intense hobbies, they take their hobbies to whole new level. Having special hobbies is part of the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's.

I have Asperger's, as does my husband, my brother, my nephew, my daughter, my mum and my sister. All of us show emotions. My husband has never cried but he also laughs and smiles and loves cuddles and affection.

I hate the automatic labelling of cold, emotionless men as 'must be an Aspie'. I find it really offensive.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 17-Nov-12 12:23:08

"Without leaving I'm not sure what the solution is..."

Why is leaving off the cards?

strumpetpumpkin Sat 17-Nov-12 15:41:52

maybe hes aspie?

NanettaStocker Sat 17-Nov-12 15:56:35

The lack of reaction to pain and blood sounds more like psychopathy to me.

thewhistler Sat 17-Nov-12 16:02:00

Total, thanks for that explanation.

It helps a lot to explain why when my mother was rushed to hospital with a heart attack a long way from us, DH tried to get me once on the phone and then stopped. So I arrived back late. So we couldn't go up that night. And he couldn't see the issue. It has bugged me ever since.

orchidee Sat 17-Nov-12 16:35:25

I think the talk about Aspergers could be a red herring. Putting a label on this behaviour doesn't help unless the OP's H wants to change.

Also, some people are just a bit fucked up. My ex had some weird nonsense with his family, he took on loads in a filial duty sort of way, but seemed to resent it although he'd put himself forward rather than letting his perfectly capable siblings get involved. I reckon he resented people depending on him. He was v weird if I was ill or incapacitated (e.g. on crutches). I was usually very self-reliant so it came up extremely infrequently. The deal-breaker for me was when I was pg. He still didn't put me first, he would put a stranger first if it came up (this sounds pathetic but e.g. holding a shop door open for a stranger but letting me, heavily pg struggle with it.) Anyway thread hijack over, just adding that as it's all coming back...

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 17:28:17

"We have never had an argument as he does not engage".
Does he express his opinions on anything?
What happens if you choose what you want, and not what he wants. Or does he never seem to mind what the outcome is?
Does he do any habits etc which may be out of the ordinary?

I suppose what I am leading up to is, have you asked your colleagues if they have any ideas?
fwiw, I googled a few things, but nothing seems to fit.
I am beginning to think it must be very unusual.

biryani Sat 17-Nov-12 18:10:50

Coffee - my DP sounds very much like yours. I am not emotional myself, so I can sort of understand it. I think there are some people who genuinely find it difficult to express emotions (maybe partly due to the way they were brought up?). He's unlikely to change, so I suppose your options are either to end the relationship or accept the way he is and get on with it.

Sorry if that's not helpful, but I think there's far too much pressure these days to wear one's heart on one's sleeve. I think I'd rather a decent, dependable, stable bloke than a blubbing, needy, emotional one!

ccarpenton Sat 17-Nov-12 22:37:23

yes, a man that does not know what to do when you cry is a problem for any relationship. they have to know. they just have to!

but, the fact it has taken you 10 years to wake up, shows that whilst you didn't like it - you stuck with it.

I think this is more a personal awakening for you. you've sat around, "mentioning" the problem to your husband and now someone is acting they way you want a man to act without any effort on your part ... suddenly you're ready to move on.

to be honest, your story is far too conflicting to be taken at face value. you call him "emotionless" then say how much emotion he shows to the kids. the truth is, he CAN be emotional. he just isn't with you.

to put it bluntly ... it take two people to hug. so if hugs are "rare" then that means you are expecting him to make all the moves. otherwise the statement would be "him initiating hugs is rare". but if you were making hugs a frequent occurrence in your relationship, chances are he'd be reciprocating - even just out of routine. men are generally easy to train that way - like the kiss goodbye.

your whole first post was putting him down. you didn't say one positive thing about being with him even though you've been with him for 10+ years. you even made out that you married him by mistake because you'd just come off an abusive relationship.

you said "I can't live without affection." maybe he is thinking the exact same thing because you never once indicated that you shower him with affection.

I'm wiling to bet that your hatred of him is totally apparent. misery over his wife despising him would account for his depression in other parts of his life too.

ask him if he thinks you hate him.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 23:17:48

coffee,just to let you know, the above poster does not have a poster history.

Theala Sat 17-Nov-12 23:26:22

totalinjection, that was very interesting, thank you. I suspect both my brothers of being a bit AS and I could see what you said there as reflecting a bit of how they might see certain situations.

Zazzles007 Sun 18-Nov-12 02:26:37

Hi there OP, your description of your DH rang bells with me, especially:

"He has no real friends. He speaks to people in work and that's it. He sees an old friend probably once a year for a couple of hours. He doesn't text / FB. He has no hobbies. He goes to work and comes home. He won't socialise with my friends. His parents are distant - he probably sees them a few times a year."

My father is like this, and it took me literally years to figure out what it was. My father doesn't have his own friends, his friends are all people that my mother has brought into their social circle. He doesn't call people (eg, has never, ever called me for my birthday), doesn't initiate contact, doesn't build relationships with people (even those of his own family), has no hobbies, and is very much a 'loner' in so many ways. He would much rather spend most of his time on his own, and when he does spend time with people, its for a predetermined activity. The most common emotion I have seen him display is anger when something doesn't go his way. I've seen him cry exactly once in my life, when he accidently ran over our pet dog when I was a teenager. He does not cry at weddings, funerals or for any other reason. Other than that he rarely smiles, and seems to spend most of his time trying not to feel anything at all.

Does any of this sound familiar?

PattyPenguin Sun 18-Nov-12 06:48:02

OP, you said his parents are distant. I take it you mean emotionally rather than geographically. Is it possible that his parents never showed him any love and treated any show of emotion from him with scorn? Could he have shut down his own emotions in childhood for such a reason? And is it possible that he shows affection for his children because he sees himself in them and wants them to have what he didn't? Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about psychology could give an opinion.

Bubblenut Sun 18-Nov-12 07:00:34

My husband is very similar!

Is your husband an only child?

mirai Sun 18-Nov-12 07:18:50

Zazzles, you say it took you years to figure out what it was... What was it?

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sun 18-Nov-12 08:38:50

Thank you again for all the responses - sorry, running about with the DC's.

Ok...he has no hobbies. He doesn't really appear to enjoy anything.

He is an only child.

I don't necessarily want a heart on sleeve type man ... I'm fine on a day to day basis.... But say when I have an awful time in work or an argument with someone I would like a hug or him to be kind. The other day for example I had a very stressful conversation with my dad ( he has had a breakdown) and when I got off the phone in tears his response was simply 'don't know why you're crying, nothing you can do'. Or a few months back I got a great permanent job.,. His response 'well done' ... Or I got my phd ' that's good' . No excitement etc.

Regarding it being my fault. Hmmm. I rarely initiate hugs as he doesn't like them. He doesn't like being touched (makes sex very strange). If I more than give him a peck on the lips he tells me to stop. He has hurt me a lot emotionally so yes I have stopped being affectionate but I think most people would.

Dazzle - spot on. He also loves dogs. Just it seems not people.

I feel I can't leave because he is a stable dependable man. The kids love him. He also doesn't earn much and got himself into a lot of debt so I financially support him really. So if I left what would he do? I can't do that to the children. Things are fine - as I said no arguments and as long as we are doing something practical or talking about something descriptive it is all ok. I just long for a partner who gives me a hug and asks how my day has been. Or I can watch a film with and laugh over. Or have a meal with him and have a conversation - if we eat when the kids are in bed he won't sit at the table and have a nice meal - he sits on the sofa and eats off his lap as he can't work out why you would sit and chat. He watches the tv during sex FFS!

Why did I take ten years? I had very low self esteem. Thought I was worthless (emotionally abusive, drunken father). Then i got caught up in having babies. Now I guess the youngest is two- I have a well paid job where people respect me, have lovely sociable friends and men finding me attractive. It highlights the disparity with home - he has said he doesn't think I'm beautiful...why would he need to say I look nice ... Didn't notice when I lost three stone of baby weight etc...says I'm fat or not as pretty as when he met me.

As for not getting excited about things - yes that's spot on. I make all the decisions and he just goes along with it. What to eat, drink etc. He just says 'whatever you want'

Sorry for length of this!

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 09:39:24

That is all very sad, coffee.
And your reactions to it all are very understandable.
Even the sayin you are not as pretty as when you first met, is probably to him just said in a matter of fact way, not intended to hurt you in any way. If you said the same thing to him,about him, he would probably nod in agreement, and think no more about it.

I dont know where you go from here.
Have you ever mentioned any of it to your colleagues?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 18-Nov-12 09:44:06

"If I left what would he do?"

He would carry on exactly the same way, presumably. He doesn't seem to need you in his life aside from covering his debts... and I'm sure he would treat your absence as matter-of-factly as he does any other event.

As for the children, it's utterly possible for children to have a very good relationship with parents when they don't live under the same roof. In fact, some would say it's damaging to raise children in the environment you describe because they will see your dysfunctional relationship with your emotionally illiterate DH as the norm... and this could go on to negatively affect their own adult relationships in turn. Modelling what it means to be a happy, independent woman with self-esteem high enough to call time on a bad relationship OTOH could be a very positive message.

What's most important in your life, is your life. I don't know how old you are but are you prepared to spend the next 30, 40 years tolerating this cold fish of a man just because ... what..... you made your bed and you think you're honour-bound to lie in it?

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sun 18-Nov-12 10:51:30

Thanks. Yes his comments about my appearance are logical sadly grin. He would never call me the most beautiful woman in the world because I'm not. He doesn't understand lies. He has said I'm quite attractive. True but not what you want to hear. I'm not that fat ... Again true but argh!

Im not worried about him coping emotionally if I leave although he would be utterly bemused. I worry about what type of lifestyle he could lead - and what experience the children would have living with him. He would either have to rent a room in a shared house or go bankrupt. Then where would he live? I'm trying to work out if I could afford to move out but keep paying the mortgage for him to stay there ( but take the children with me). Madness perhaps but I do feel responsible for him.

My colleagues I have mentioned it to - on a professional level they think AS. On a friend level they say leave.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 18-Nov-12 10:58:01

If he lived solo he'd be like thousands of other people i.e. reliant on their own earnings, various benefits and having to cut their cloth accordingly. It's very noble to feel responsible for him but isn't that really why you're in the fix you are now? Because he behaves like and is treated/spoiled as an older child rather than an equal status life-partner? If you start down the road of subsidising his lifestyle post-divorce you'll be saddled with him for the rest of his natural. Even children have to cut loose the apron strings eventually.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sun 18-Nov-12 11:07:22

Yes ... I know ... You speak a lot of sense and simply echo what my colleagues say. I guess it's not the responsibility to him but the impact it would have on the children. I don't want to think I 'did that' to their dad. I guess I have perhaps old fashioned feelings of guilt that I married him so ...

As an almost comical aside my dad was an alcoholic who didn't work and my mum paid for everything and supported us. He was worse - violent and verbally abusive but she still stayed. You can see who I'm modelling can't you (as a psychologist I do realise the irony of me ignoring this).

It's just hard to break away as he is a decent amiable man. I feel like I'm putting my emotional needs above the childrens.

Sometimes - and I know this is wrong - I think the solution is almost to have an emotional affair as he wouldn't notice or care. He wouldn't see the issue as emotion passes him by. I KNOW this is not actually the solution though for lots of obvious reasons.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 18-Nov-12 11:18:58

If you feel guilty about having taken on this decent, amiable, 'sparrow with a broken wing' for the wrong reasons & if you want your children to have a decent standard of living when they stay with their father then make arrangements accordingly. But be clear why you're doing it in the divorce agreement and make it a finite agreement that expires when they hit 18 or something similar.

Yes, the parallels in your parents' life are clear but, if anything, that should spur you on to break the cycle. If you've gone on to copy their dysfunctional behaviour, don't condemn your children to perpetuating the pattern.

Polecat2011 Sun 18-Nov-12 11:19:32

Is it not called "ANHEDONIA"?
As I understand it this can be a reaction to alcoholic parents or abuse in childhood of any sort. The child learns to hide his emotions so that the parent cannot "enjoy" distress and prolong it or put an end to "happiness" and make sure it doesn't happen again. It is harder for the abuser to learn to "press your buttons" if you conceal what makes you sad and what makes you happy. There are parents who will deprive you of things that make you happy, so you don't let on what makes you happy. Displaying emotions just does not seem safe, but with one's own babies it is safe and just pours out.

Stellarpunk Sun 18-Nov-12 11:44:21

Well, I reckon I know what this is.

It is called 'Alexithymia' from the Greek meaning no words for emotions

Alexithimics and Aspergers share aspects of not being abe to articulate emotion so that's why there may appear to have a superficial similarity.

My DH is a Alex, it has caused a lot of heartache and pain. Living with someone who cannot demonstrate emotion is heartbreaking, been there, got the tee, totally with you OP.

In our case, we have only just made the connection, this has taken us 16 years! However, nw that we both know that this is the issue, things have got better. There is hope OP.

In my DH case it was exaberated by emotional neglect from his DM. This was triggered by the breakup of his parents marriage and his own mothers inability to show emotion. He literally shut his emotional response down in order to survive. Being brought up in poverty in a remote village didn't help either. Dad abandoned family early on, I've never even met him.

Alexithimia is a peculiar thing. In my DH's case, he can love and is a wonderful father. But he Los doesn't argue, doesn't find fault or pick. But equally would never plan a romantic trip away, misses out on the nuances of emotional communication, struggles with empathy. Unfortunately, the build of unexpressed emotions can lead to addictive behaviour in order to self soothe. My DHs was porn. This led us to the very brink and me to a suicide attempt.

You can work through this but he will need to explore his past. I would look to childhood, especially his parents. Was there a traumatic event that quite literally 'shut him down'?

Un MNetty hugs to you OP.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sun 18-Nov-12 11:57:45

I've just done the alexithymia test 'for' him guessing what he would put. 90 out of 100 ... Anything above 60 suggests it.

You may have just hit the nail on the head ... Especially the logical solution to problems avoiding the emotions.

And the physical sensations ... He is often at the doctors because of some pain or discomfort that they have no solution to.

His parents are very ... Given up would be the word. His dad is disabled with physical problems. They just kind of exist.

Hmmm interesting.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 18-Nov-12 11:59:35

He's your husband, not a case-study.... You want him to be your post-doctorate thesis or a life-partner?

Stellarpunk Sun 18-Nov-12 12:58:56

Ohh ouch Cognito A little harsh methinks? OP needs time to understand this on both an intellectual and emotional level herself.

Once I finally had the word for what it was (ironic isn't it considering what Alexithymia means?) I had the missing piece of the puzzle. The jigsaw all slotted into place and I needed to work through that.

Once I began to work though it, that patterns in my DH's background were finally brought into focus. My MIL for example saying that his Dad was 'very cold'. The deep level avoidance of any triggering emotional response in his family - ergo all communication has now totally broken down. His Dad's upbringing - his own mother (so DH's grandma) would never hug or show affection to her boys in case they 'turned soft'.

Stellarpunk Sun 18-Nov-12 13:04:59

coffee take your time with this. Have a good think. Come here and rant away if you need. PM me if you want to ask any questions.

I too had an emotional affair so I do understand how you feel. You can both get through this if you both want to. For the record, DH is happier now that he has finally begun to express himself.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 18-Nov-12 13:16:33

Is it harsh? The OP has said all along that they find him interesting professionally but disastrous personally. Hence why, on some level, she feels responsible I would suggest. A lot of us have hooked up with flawed characters naively thinking love can cure all and been resoundingly put straight when we find out it doesn't. The OP, by failing to cure this project, has not only emotional investment at stake but also professional pride. No... I don't think that's harsh.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 14:15:30

Cogito, the op was 21 when she married him, and says she thinks she married him because he was the opposite of her abusive dad.
At that point she did not realise totally what he was like.

The alexithymia, having looked up wikipedia, seems to be it from what you have posted, Coffee.
It looks like your DH gets pains from it. Perhaps your GP, if you tell him about this, may now be able to help him better in that regard?

You sound like a lovely person, op. Perhaps now that you might know what it is he may have, that you might find out how some other couples cope with it.
I feel for you, you are in a difficult position.

Stellarpunk Sun 18-Nov-12 14:27:13

cogito quite a few judgments in your last post. We have not been told by the OP that she feels she professional pride at stake. Wisely, she concludes that she is at risk of projecting onto him because she is emotionally involved.

Actually, it would be a very wise thing to understand the implications of living with someone with this disorder rather than simply reacting.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sun 18-Nov-12 14:35:28

I don't feel judged, honestly. I am glad of the insight from someone who doesn't need to say the right thing to me.

I am very aware that I can see him as someone I should deal with or fix. I guess if I understand him in my own language I can do what I can to help him.

BUT I also know it is not my role to help him. I guess I'm just used to it. My mum is essentially my dad's carer...I am my dad's carer (on a more distant level).

I certainly didn't get together with him to cure him. I was a very, very naive 19 year old. I don't do changing people or manipulating them or making them better. I just want to work out if there is anyway of coping with the situation - give it one last chance before I leave I guess. If there is someway I can gain emotional support from this situation then I want that rather than leaving. Or - alternatively - I was willing to be told on here that I was being melodramatic and it was my fault (as he thinks).

It comes down to the fact that I do love him...but I'm certainly not in love with him. I want things to improve...understanding him might be the first stage of that but I think I need a good think about how my background might affect this.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sun 18-Nov-12 14:36:29

I don't feel my professional pride is at stake. However I do feel awkward when I go for evenings out / weddings / any social event whatsoever on my own and everyone else has their partners there.

Stellarpunk Sun 18-Nov-12 14:39:49

Honest answer would be.. Is coping really a viable option? I suspect that you know the answer. How would it make you feel long term?

I would tend to agree that having a think is good. Would it be possible to separate temporarily to give yourself some space?

Best of luck op.

DiamondDoris Sun 18-Nov-12 18:13:08

I was married to a man very similar. He wasn't demonstrative and didn't censor what was on his mind. Didn't like kissing or touching. Couldn't be bothered with sex, didn't feel it was important. Never paid me compliments etc. I left and found happiness with another man (in my 40s), the DC and I moved out of the marital home and I've never looked back. Think of yourself OP and your DC - nothing wrong with leaving a "relationship/marriage" (which it isn't), you don't want to spend the rest of your life like this, surely?

Zazzles007 Mon 19-Nov-12 02:07:18

Mirai, in my father's case, I realised that his behaviour was wrong in so many ways, from a very young age. It was only when I started dating a guy with a certain social dysfunction (ie he could not interact with people in a normal, social fashion, but tried very hard to appear normal), that I started researching my father's issues.

It seems that my father has something called a Schizoid Personality Disorder. His mother (my grandmother) was diagnosed as bipolar, and there is a theory that schizoid personality types do arise from an interaction with bipolar.

When I showed the information about Schizoid Personality Disorder to my mother, the penny dropped for her as well. My father hides it well with people he doesn't want to know about it, but with us, the cloak drops and he shows us who he really is.

Coffee it seems that there are a few of us who have an experience that is similar to yours. I hope that some of these stories do help.

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Mon 19-Nov-12 08:28:34

I think from all these great responses I have come to the conclusion the problem is 'his' (rather than being my fault or in my head) [by problem I am not blaming him just realising he is different].

The next stage is me I think - I need to get over my guilt and feelings of responsibility. Diamond - you say there pretty much that you left for how I am thinking. I need to get to that place without feeling I should make more of an effort.

I also need to work things out financially.

Thank you.

needsomeperspective Mon 19-Nov-12 08:59:40

My father is exactly the same. Even down to the no hobbies or own friends and only child. It's just him.

orchidee Mon 19-Nov-12 10:42:10

Coffee- for me, once I'd realised "this is it, it's how he is, nothing I can do will change it" it was easier to make the split. Like I said previously, ex-p couldn't understand why I wanted more from a relationship, and there's no point trying to explain to outsiders beyond "we decided to split" as unless you've lived this, it must be difficult to understand. Yes on paper these people seem good partners, stable etc but there's no emotional connection, it looks good superficially. I did feel like flatmates.

Anyway, the point is that we get on a lot better now. I have different expectations from him. I think this relationship (co-parenting) suits him better too as there's none of the messy emotional stuff. I've spoken to ex-p about how important it is to teach our toddler about emotions, social rules etc, but not in a "look at you!" way, just that all toddlers need this. I have no expectation of meeting another partner but am concerned that any future relationship has to be a good role model for my child (unlike ex-p's experience with his parents, it seems.)

Everythingwillbeok Mon 19-Nov-12 18:20:30

I also could have written your post. Although my partner on paper a lovely man he shows no emotion whatsoever.Things like when my eldest DD was being bullied at school he just listers and then says nothing or goes upstairs it's so annoying I feel like shaking some emotion into him.He also is affectionate with youngest DD but no one else he doesn't even speak to his parent when they visit its as though he feels awkward.So shuts off and plays on his phone or goes in garden.

Everythingwillbeok Mon 19-Nov-12 20:32:54

I also want to add he avoids talking to/contact with other adults ie. in the school playground other dads casually chat or at least say hello but with him nothing.He also avoids get togethers with neighbours as he knows he will have to talk to them which makes it extremely difficult as I am friends with a lot of our neighbours and if we are having a get together he just stays inside.

He manages a big team of people in his workplace and has no problem with that.But doesn't have any friends and will not interact with mine at all my friend bought him some beers for his birthday and he did not even thank her. He also has no hobbies.

He never would get excited about anything like going on holiday or Christmas so then he drags me down too.Does this sound like your DH OP ?

Demolicious Thu 10-Jan-13 11:10:52

Coffee, I have just found this thread in a roundabout way after googling 'How to talk to someone about how you feel when they have no feelings'. Google mentioned 'alexithymia' and I came on MN to see if anyone had any experience on here. Things have not been good between DH and I for a while now and whilst alot of threads suggest talking openly and honestly with each other, this is very difficult with DH. For sometime, I have been thinking about leaving him but the thought of it frightens the life out of me. A few things have happened which have finally made me realise he just doesn't get it and I don't think he ever will. I have tried making an independent life for myself but every now and again, I question myself. I didn't get married to be independent and I don't want to get to the stage of being needy and clingy.

Just wanted to know how are things are now ?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now