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DH has always been a quiet man but now it feels worse

(51 Posts)
ladyluckylula Tue 22-Oct-13 23:30:57

I'm so worried about my relationship with my dh. He has always been quiet. I knew that when I married him. But now it feels like we don't communicate very well at all. I end up asking all the questions and making all the effort. I feel like he comes in from work with nothing to bring to the table. No stories, no jokes, no questions. Its baffling.

I can't understand and get so cross about it and then end up blurting it all out which I know must make it worse. He says he can't change and 'that is the way he is' but I think it's got worse. He's got lazy. All of the romantic gestures have disappeared as well. It's like he's lost his imagination.

We have two kids (4 and 2) and he's fantastic with them. He chats and plays and jokes with them. Sometimes I hear him ask my dd a question. Might be something simple like 'what was your favourite bit of today?' and I think.... He wouldn't dream of asking me that! I don't want him to treat me like a child but I just wish some magic and wonder and excitement would come back.

18 month ago I remember having a conversation with a friend who had got divorced and actually thinking 'I can't relate to that happening at all' and now here I am wondering if he is the right person for me. I keep thinking as he gets older its going to get worse and worse.

I love him but it drives me mental and it's such a massively important part of the relationship. I work from home a lot and although have a fabulous support network of amazing friends I still want that intimate, happy, fun wonderful thing with my husband. I told him to many times now ... he just gets angry, goes even more quiet, doesn't look at me. But what else am I going to do? I just think he needs to learn how to be more active in a conversation. It all starts with questions but also an interest and desire to learn more from the other person. If he doesn't have that then we are truly screwed.

MorrisZapp Tue 22-Oct-13 23:39:11

Oh man. I can relate to this. Have nearly ended it with DP a few times when the lack of chat was getting me down. What pisses me right off sometimes is when I overhear him talking to a friend on the phone, laughing, being animated and sounding like an engaging character. Then the convo ends and we sit in silence.

Fwiw, I've made my peace with it. I get my chat and stimulation elsewhere. I do value DPs many qualities and I do want him in my life. Seeing him with DS reinforces this.

I don't know how to advise you, but I think the nation is groaning with chatty women going demented with monosyllabic men. You're not alone.

MrsTwgtwf Wed 23-Oct-13 00:44:56

I sympathise, OP. sad I've sent you a PM, hope you don't mind. smile

Stealmysunshine Wed 23-Oct-13 03:29:03

I feel your pain OP.

My Dp has his moments but my frustration mostly when we are out! We'd be at a restaurant, for example, and I'll be pulling teeth and talking about curtains just so we're not sitting in silence and as soon as we get in the car/back home he's blabbering away, by this point I'm usually already seething at him..

With my problem though I can just about tolerate it because its not all the time, and I have learnt that somedays he just not in the mood to talk, so I get my entertainment from MN instead and other forums.

My advice is if he wants to be quiet then leave him to it and do your own thing.

MrsBranestawm Wed 23-Oct-13 03:31:11

Beat me to it, MrsT!

beachesandbuckets Wed 23-Oct-13 03:56:22

Same here. I ask him how his day has been, he grunts, and doesn't ask me likewise. If I pull him up on this, he gets grumpy.

And then I hear him being a bundle of laughs with dcs.

He is normally a nice dh, so just grin and bear it.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 23-Oct-13 06:53:43

I am glad he at least makes the effort with your DCs but with a DW it shouldn't be an effort, should it?

It's not unreasonable to want some attention in the form of chat and easy communication. I assume you are prepared to listen as well as converse. Romance and novelty - "date nights" - might be harder to keep at a consistent level but to clam up is unkind.

I understand if my DH wants time to switch off after work and relax but we still manage to communicate. If he shut down I'd feel lonely and ultimately neglected. Silence is golden and all that but there's a limit. How much can you push for what he finds hard to give?

If he is an avid texter or always on his phone (you haven't mentioned it so I guess not) I think I'd be livid.

If there are no other signs that he's switching off from you, (loss of intimacy, more time spent working and outside interests that fill up his time), it may just be the way he is so you have to decide if a varied social outside the home and contacts you have through work are enough to fill the gap.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 08:03:48

Sadly, if it's 'just the way he is', and he's been like that from the off, he's telling you that he has no intention of behaving any differently. This is as good as he gets. FWIW I can't imagine being in a relationship with someone that blanked me.... I can't even imagine having a friend that behaved that way.

generally for me this was when i realised i didn't want to be with someone. i can actually remember the moment i realised it in one relationship and knew it was 'the end' - i wasn't feeling great and we had gone out for a meal and feeling a bit flat i wasn't chattering away and 'making' the evening and without me doing that it was just a dull, heavy silence. i saw he was perfectly happy to just live off my energy. if i went quiet he wouldn't take up gauntlet but just sit there and look at me and if i didn't resume ask me what was wrong.

to me it was where the illusion of who they were and how they made me feel subsided into the reality and then i stopped conjuring the illusion and nothing was there itms.

however i obviously wasn't married and i didn't have children with these guys so obviously your situation is very different.

thing is i don't think people can change that about them - they either have that spark and interest and passion about life, you, ideas etc or they don't. glad he's making an effort with your children but maybe that's because they're young and when it becomes more grown up engaged conversation he'll clam up with them too?

fortyplus Wed 23-Oct-13 08:27:39

I left my dh last year - he was just like this. Took me 28 years - don't leave it that long.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 08:30:48

That's a good point about grown-up conversations. Does he socialise much, have friends, show an interest in others, pick up the phone to parents or whatever? If not, then it really is his core personality. However, if he can can be sociable with others and engaged with his children it would mean the only person he feels it's OK to be morose around is you.

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 12:33:28

It's so complicated ...
He's always been quiet but there were a few factors different which I think kept us afloat (or kept me stimulated enough). We had more money as now job situs have changed. So we both loved travel, skiing etc and now that is not possible. So a shared interest in travel has gone. We now have kids. Exhausting. But he loves being with them and is amazing with them. But it's almost like before we had kids, he used to treat me a bit like a kid sometimes even sometimes with the odd tickle fight! Sounds weird but it wasn't. Now I'm 'mum' so I have a different role I think and it's changed everything.

My main problem seems to be when he gets in from work. We both put the kids to bath and bed, read story. Then we go downstairs and he wants to put the tv straight on. Sometime I have work to do in the evenings aswell but not often (I freelance from home) So time together is precious. Simple things that I find easy to think of just don't enter his head to ask me. I have banged on again and again about romantic gestures. God, I would love a bunch of flowers occasionally. But it rarely happens. He used to be quite romantic and thoughtful.

I do wonder if he is borderline aspergers. But looking at the test, there are many things that he's fine with.

One thing I've always found weird is he doesn't dream (or remember his dreams) I'm just so different. I'm creative and sometimes impatient and scatty. It's like we go at different speeds.

He does have friends. Lifelong since they were kids friends and he does meet up with them.

He reads a lot of fiction, loves films etc but doesn't ever say things like 'the book I'm reading is getting so good' or 'That film we watched has really haunted me' it's like it goes in and it comes straight out.

I guess it is just the way he is. But I've tried to make him see that you can learn how to communicate better even if it takes a bit more thought and effort. Was looking at getting him the famous 'how to win friends and influence people'. Might really piss him off though.

We had a terrible row last night as I find if we don't engage in anything meaningful during the evening and it feels flat, he we get into bed and I feel like exploding. I think, as he gets older it's going to get worse and worse. It feels like we're a couple of pensioners at times.

We do get intimate sometimes but as we have had these issues that keep rearing their head it gets harder. I just end up thinking I'm to blame and I pick on him. I also sometimes think 'I wish he would make me feel fantastic - make me laugh, tell me a story from his day that we can talk about' but then maybe it's not his job to make me feel anything. I have to do that by myself. Maybe I demand too much. As he says 'there's always something'. But does the perfect guy exist. He does have a lot of qualities like being calm, logical and trustworthy.

To be honest I used to get a lot of stimulation from working and the amazingly funny and witty individuals that I worked with. I miss that. I just sometimes wonder why on earth I choose him. I hate to say that out loud. I do love him.

DontMentionThePrunes Wed 23-Oct-13 12:39:18

Yes, exactly what MorrisZapp says, except I haven't nearly ended it. I am a terrible introvert myself, although I'm sociable. Coming to terms with essentially no longer having a joint social life (because he doesn't really want to) has been very very hard. But I need my silent time too and I'm sure he is driven mad by me introducing him to new people in the hope that he'll click with someone. We're a bag of contradictions really.

That said, I was reading the thread about unromantic things partners say, and read a few out to him. I realised that he doesn't ever really say things to me, romantic or unromantic. It's very hard sometimes. But we have ds and I'm in it for the long haul with them both.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 12:42:36

My own DF is a fairly introverted type. Happier one on one than in a room full of people. Happier quietly reading or watching TV than engaging in lively conversation. My DM is the polar opposite. 50-odd years they've spent together... her complaining that he's dead boring & never wants to do anything. What a rotten waste of a life. hmm

Mrsmindcontrol Wed 23-Oct-13 12:52:01

My marriage was like this. I left exH 2.5 years ago because I just couldn't face a lifetime of having to instigate every conversation, feeling rejected, blanked & at times, actively disliked. On a long car journey once, I stayed silent, waiting for him to talk to me. He said NOTHING, not one word for FOUR HOURS. hmm

We did (do!)have 3 children together & I won't lie and say it's been easy since but I'm so very much happier now. Am with a new DP who is very chatty, engaging & interested. So much better. It's changed the way I feel about myself more than I can say.

It's a shame, exH was/is a good man but the 'bond' we had before we had kids died away with the stresses of parenthood leaving us with a foundation of nothing at all.

JeanSeberg Wed 23-Oct-13 13:00:13

Agree with fortyplus, don't be that couple in the pub/restaurant sitting there with nothing to say to each other.

You can analyse it all you like but your personality types don't sound matched and sadly there's nothing you can do about that.

i don't think it's about introversion in this instance. it sounds kind of witholding tbh if the OP has talked to him about it and he still doesn't make any effort.

it's not like it's that hard to say, 'how was your day? how's that piece of work going?' when it has been spelt out to you that it hurts your life partner not to be spoken to.

if it's too much effort to make a bit of conversation with someone you know is feeling hurt and frustrated by you not doing so then.....?

it does sound like you're just 'mum' now and that's not fair.

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 13:19:12

He does sometimes ask me things. It has got better than it was. I have had a conversation with him about finances and I know that for some reason the drop in finances has affected him greatly. He doesn't share that burden with anyone and he says 'it's a mans job to sort out problems not talk about them' sounds so old fashioned. I couldn't believe he said that.

But it's not like we are in terrible debt or anything. But it's done him no good at all mentally. He's not a big go-getter but wants to provide for his family. Maybe I had pushed things in the past trying to get the house up together. But again the issue is communication.

At the moment the thought of us separating would tear me apart. But that's because of the kids. I just think if we could get some more fun 'us' time together it would bond us again.

It's so good to know there are others out there with similar issues. I've tried calling him. Didn't pick up.

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 13:23:30

Has anyone tried actually writing down a list of suggested questions for him to say? Or setting a little 'find a story' type of quest. Like, listen in to somebody's conversation, find a newspaper article to talk about etc. It might sound patronising but I feel like he needs to change his habits and then it will flow better. Am I being too hopeful. If he doesn't have that spark he just doesn't have it ..... I want spark.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 13:36:13

You can't turn someone into something they're not. Especially if they tell you 'it's how I am'. You either have to take them on face value and love them exactly the way they are warts and all, or you have to reject the person and move on.

only you know if it's temporary, to do with your life stage, a phase or just who he is and always has been ladyluckylula.

if he's always been like this then no, i don't think he's a puppy that can be trained to behave in ways you'd like him to be you know? people can change habits and ways but only if they really, really want to and even then god knows it's damned hard not to fall back into the same old patterns and habits that you wanted to change.

Mumsyblouse Wed 23-Oct-13 14:06:12

Trying to change him is just not going to work, he doesn't want to know what you think about XYZ article and that's that.

You either accept he's a quiet type of person and get your kicks/interest/intellectual stimulation from friends/work if you rub along nicely in other ways or you decide you really can't face the blank wall for another 40 years and get divorced.

If you keep saying 'if only he's do this' then you will always be disappointed. I also think he has taken to heart the loss of his income quite badly and probably is internalizing all his feelings about this as well.

I have plenty of friends with husbands a bit like this- in the main, the happier ones see that having a partner who doesn't mind being bossed about a bit, but is happy to go along with what you like doing, or support your dreams and goals but isn't that stimulating himself, is a good thing. If you see it is a very bad thing and can't reframe it, it will eat away at you.

Dahlen Wed 23-Oct-13 14:14:12

Like some PPs I think the harsh fact is that you have to decide to put up with it or leave. He won't change.

FWIW, I wouldn't tolerate this. I am quite extroverted in a social setting, but very quiet at home. I am good at sitting in companionable silence and I like it. Noise and inane chatter do my head in (why did I have DC? wink). However, I don't consider anything my DC or my BF has to say as inane chatter because - and this is the crux as I see it - I am interested in them. How their day has gone, how they feel, things they've picked up from others/the news - all these things matter to me because these people matter to me.

This is only my own perspective, not psychology fact, but IMO that level of conversation is akin to a complete lack of interest. A way of saying "you don't interest me" which is not only incredibly rude but also incredibly disrespectful. There doesn't have to be constant conversation to show someone you're interested in their POV and their feelings.

I wish I had a solution for you, but if you've spelled it out and he still doesn't care enough to ask a few simple questions and listen to your answers, I'm not sure I could stay. Sorry. sad

lurkinglorna Wed 23-Oct-13 14:23:13

I was discussing this with someone a couple days ago (about another "reserved person", not you OP smile)

Came to conclusion its passive aggressive to just "declare yourself a quiet type" then expect the other to work round it.

people are talking about "chatty women and quiet men" but I think the "quiet men" force the women to be extroverted and "work it" like a performing seal? Dominant and bossy and taking social charge is not my natural personality -I'd feel unfeminine and angry if I had to be like that all the time. BUT its the one I'd have to develop if teamed up with someone who acted like a 12 year old gamer, not cool.

It's like someone who is always submissive, it's actually quite controlling, demanding the OTHER person has to chase after them socially or sexually so they can feel uber desirable.

The chap in question isn't a partner or someone I'm dating but a (possibly soon to be ex) friend.

He goes to every effort to be seen as "calm, logical, and trustworthy" as you state OP. But what that means is he basically doesn't engage - in every interaction he is "nice and polite" but it's all a "protecting my image" exercise, avoiding disapproval by trying to control the interaction. It's essentially selfish and creepy, not reserved and polite?

I needed to speak to him about something quite serious, and literally EVERY reply was some vague straw man argument or "trying not to make anyone think I'm wrong". I think he had a dominant angry mother, and just shut down at "taking emotional risks" at any stage? (and by emotional risks I mean basically ANYTHING that isn't going to lead to the other saying "awww you're such a perfect guy aren't you, you never say anything wrong?")

ladyluckylula Wed 23-Oct-13 14:27:51

Mumsyblouse: you have hit nail on head. he is actually very happy to go along with me. v supportive of my interests etc. But at the end of the day ( and I think this is due to my situation with being at home alot) I need something more stimulating when he comes through the door.

I know deep down he won't change. Just got to work out if grass would be greener? and if I had someone who was self-obsessed abd out at the pub every night of the week I wouldn't be happy either.

OxfordBags Wed 23-Oct-13 14:30:36

My DH is very shy, very quiet, although he is cripplingly shy and quiet with everyone, doesn't really like to go out with friends, etc. It does get me down at times, and I am quite arsey with him about certain things now we have DS: I do not find it acceptable for him to not acknowledge that I am speaking, or have spoken, to act as though I've not just asked a question, to mutter or grunt a non-commital sound in lieu of an actual answer,and think this is bad behaviour for him to model for our son. He also never pays me compliments, acknowledges things I've done, says encouraging, romantic or flattering things, etc., which I also think isn't a good example to set. The most enthusiastic comment he has about anything is that is was 'alright' or 'quite nice'. When pushed for an opinion on the birth of his only child, he struggled for several minutes, then came out with 'lovely' in an unsure tone.

He isn't negative, unpleasant or insulting in any way. None of this comes from malice, being uncaring or whatever. But it is getting increasingly... I don't know - exasperating? Boring? Upsetting? We do have a good laugh about stuff and interesting discussions, which is wonderful, but it just leaves me even more frustrated that he can be so expressive and vibrant in areas he is confident in,and so grey and shut down in other ones (more important ones, actually).

Could your Dh's background play a big factor, OP? My ILs are the most emotionally shut-down and inexpressive people I have ever met. Again, not horrible, but they struggle to even be as descriptive as naming the colour of someone's hair! FIL is also an incredibly silent man, as both his parents were deaf and he is hearing. My poor Dh and his siblings just never experience being talked to, complimented, encouraged to express themselves, talk about problems, nothing, only a bit of light chitchat and discussion suitable for the dinner table. And, importantly, not taught how to 'give' verbally to others, either, as they were not given to verbally themselves.

I have to accept that DH will always be quiet and not a verbal Casanova, but he does try, and he is wonderful in so many other ways. It's about assessing the balance and seeing if taking that rough with the smooth is enough. I know, for example, that I prefer my quiet and unflattering but very supportive DH who truly sees and treats me as his equal, to my gobshite dad, who never shuts up, who can be v funny and charming, but he is an annoying, lazy, shallow egotist a lot of the time.

Dahlen Wed 23-Oct-13 14:38:12

It doesn't have to be either/or though. You can have a happy medium. You don't have to be an extrovert to ask someone how their day has been, listen to the answer and offer a comment in the appropriate places. That's just basic good manners and a minimum level of social skills, surely?

While you should be loved warts-and-all by your spouse/partner and be able to let them see you at less than your best, I think it's a good rule of thumb to establish a rule that you treat your loved ones with the same common courtesy and respect you would afford your colleagues. If some people treated their colleagues in the same way they treat their partners, they'd be out of a job or called up on a disciplinary.

OxfordBags Wed 23-Oct-13 14:39:02

Lurking, your post strikes a chord, as DH won'y engage aocially, not even his own family. This means that to not only stop him looking like a rude weirdo, but to stop them being annoyed with me because convention expects women to grease the wheels of socialising, I have to waffle on like a twat, when I don't know alot of them that well,don't necessarily like them a lot and don't actually know the answers to some things they ask whereas silent Dh does. I'm not one to acquiesce to bullshit sexist expectations of women, but I don't want to spoil big family get-togethers with there being loads of awkwardness and feeling rejected, etc.

I tell Dh how this humiliates me, and that it's not acceptable to expect me to speak for him (and that it infantilises him), but he just clams up and mutters sorry and says he doesn't know what to say. And I genuinely believe he doesn't know what to say, as no-one expected or indeed wanted him to have anything to say, growing up. But on the other hand, lots of people, me included, had shortcomings in our childhood that we work at to overcome so they don't impact (too much) on our lives and on others, so I feel that he should try harder. He has had several lots of CBT but it did zero to help.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 23-Oct-13 14:41:18

Try not to think in terms of greener grass. This is about you as an individual being unhappy with him as an individual. You're both probably perfectly nice normal people in your own right, you just don't happen to make a good couple from what you describe.

As an extrovert myself I have in the past been attracted to quiet solid types like my Dad that I thought were deep thinkers but actually turned out to be quite boring and a bit of an energy-drain. My latest beau is a bit shallow but he's very attentive & enthusiastic to the point that I often can't get a word in edgeways. I'm actually finding it a) hilarious and b) refreshing!

it's funny how differently we go though isn't it?

i wasn't 'given to' in that sense either but it has made me want to make others feel comfortable and give to them because i know how it feels to be with-held from and have one's inner world or life in general ignored and never be asked anything.

it does mean i can find being with people too much tiring and need time to myself to recharge though and it means the people i really let in need to be givers too really or life would be utterly exhausting.

my parents stun me with their absolute disinterest in me - to the point of i had a big job interview last week and haven't even been asked how it went - then again i went back to work after several years off and have never been asked how that's going either.

sorry bit of a waffle from me but now i have thought about how this applies to me, how i was treated and how it's made me feel about myself i actually wouldn't recommend staying in it unless you are incredibly resilient and the material and practical means more to you than other than stuff. it wears you down and makes you feel invisible and worthless or alternatively makes you seethe with resentment and disgust at other people's basic lack of....??

if we love people we should show interest in them, we should want to know how they are, if they're ok, how they feel and think about things. if that's withheld from us in as major a place as our own home it's no good.

DontMentionThePrunes Wed 23-Oct-13 14:48:26

"the people i really let in need to be givers too really or life would be utterly exhausting."

This is so true, bit of an imbalance in my life at the moment (not only dh really) and it is exhausting, you are right.

I would love to be an extrovert for a while just to see what it's like on the other side grin

sorry for the me me me post. feeling a bit sad and drained at the minute. don't pay too much heed to my viewpoint as it is probably skewered by my own need to get away from people who hurt me with their.... lack.

Mumsyblouse Wed 23-Oct-13 15:06:20

I just wonder though, if you started working out of the home, if to a large extent that need for interest/social interaction would be fulfilled. It is for me, and I'm quieter at home as a result.

I do agree though that is is tiresome if someone isn't interested in you. However, I now just don't wait for my husband to say 'wow, lovely to see you, how was your day?' with lots of animation, because that's not his style, I just start chatting and then he starts chatting and so on. But if he's truthful, he does listen to be polite on occasions, not because he finds the minutiae of my work life really fascinating, just as I look at things he shows me on the computer/news items when they are not that interesting to me.

I just think you either reconfigure this as a positive or get out. And no one person meets all your needs really.

OxfordBags Wed 23-Oct-13 15:22:04

Swallowedafly, don't put yourself down, please. Don't presume others aren't interested in you, my sweet. DH's parents never ask him or his siblings anything about their life. Or anyone else; they didn't even know my surname until I told them I was keeping it, and we'd been together years at that point. I don't think they know what my job was before I became a SAHM. If it upsets me that, I can't begin to imagine what it's like for people like you and my DH.

I do believe my DH is interested in me and appreciates me, he can't show it verbally, which I would like sometimes. He does show me this in other ways at times, like I told him once about a folk song a non-British relative used to sing to me as a child, and he got me a Cd with it on for Xmas that year, even though it was pretty obscure and I wasn't even sure of the correct title.

OxfordBags Wed 23-Oct-13 15:24:15

I meant to add, does your Dh ever do stuff like that for you, OP?

schmohawk Wed 23-Oct-13 15:38:49

I think there is a big difference between being on the quiet, introverted side and any kind of blanking/ passive aggressive/ stonewalling behaviour. Also OP it sounds as though working from home may not be best suited to your personality type, meaning that (even subconsciously) you are expecting more stimulation from him. And at the risk of medicalising a personality trait, is there any chance he could be a bit depressed?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 23-Oct-13 19:27:25

He does have a lot of qualities like being calm, logical and trustworthy...
To be honest I used to get a lot of stimulation from working and the amazingly funny and witty individuals that I worked with. I miss that. I just sometimes wonder why on earth I choose him. I hate to say that out loud. I do love him.

I think you pinpointed the difference yourself ladyluckylula and Mumsyblouse highlights it:
I just wonder though, if you started working out of the home, if to a large extent that need for interest/social interaction would be fulfilled. It is for me, and I'm quieter at home as a result.

Those qualities you mention could be pretty desirable to other people. He is also an able dad and loyal friend. I see the irony in asking this as he's not fond of chatting (!) but has he ever commented on what it was about you attracted him? Perhaps confidence, openness, gregariousness?

Obviously I'm not saying, just because he doesn't verbally abuse you, you should be grateful. But perhaps what he offers gladly and you want are very different. I think by nature he sounds a reserved person and the situation you allude to regarding finances was traditionally "the man's concern". Not in the 21st century clearly but it doesn't sit well with him and maybe he doesn't know how to express that without admitting a vulnerability he prefers not to admit. Rather than bottling it all up to be irksome. Could it be that he wants to be confident and capable for you but lately he's been struggling?

jamaisjedors Wed 23-Oct-13 19:48:40

You have my sympathies, because DH can be like this too - if I go out with friends, he never EVER asks me anything about it the next day for example, which infuriates me.

I have bought this book:

which is really interesting and has lots of practical exercises to do with your partner (mostly about reconnecting and building a strong base to get you through the tougher times) and I'm going to try it with DH - just have to find a time when he is not "too busy"...

MumblingMummy Wed 23-Oct-13 19:48:41

De-lurking to say this sounds like my DP and we don't even live together. He never asks any more than 'how are you?' and never shows any affection outside the bedroom. Never buys me flowers either. With friends and acquaintances though he's life and soul of the party. Very affectionate with DC. I think with your DH its a case of taking you for granted/cant be bothered with the effort of maintaining a good relationship. I know one thing; it's incredibly draining always being the one driving the relationship. like dragging a dead weight behind you. Do you think there may be any resentment lurking?

garlicvampire Wed 23-Oct-13 20:20:44

You're already getting advice, so this is is just a sympathy post. There were a lot of things wrong with my second marriage, but one of the moments that stick in my mind epitomises his 'closed' quality ... closed towards me, that is, he wasn't the same with everyone! We were on holiday, on a diving course. On the boat, with a few others, an instructor said "Did H tell you he found a necklace today, Garlic?" Apparently this had been quite an event: they'd all been excited about his find, wondered where it came from, etc. He did not say a word. At her prompting, he repeated that he'd found a necklace. End of; like a sullen child being made to tell Aunty about his spelling score. It was such an awkward moment that everyone moved the conversation along. I never saw this flaming necklace, nor even knew if they'd kept it or left it down there.

It's not very nice, being excluded from your husband's life, is it? sad

Northbynorthwestnorthernline Wed 23-Oct-13 20:26:41

Nothing useful to add but reading with interest. Mrsmindcontrols post up thread really resonated...he's told me he is not interested in my friends or news of who I have seen on the school run or me talking about my family and only asks about my day if I ask about his first. Long car journeys in silence and me having to make effort to instigate chat or plans.

It is so bloody draining and makes me feel like a disliked irritant most of the time.

He has no friends that he sees regularly either.

Twinklestein Wed 23-Oct-13 20:27:39

There are two factors at play that aren't necessarily related: 1) a taciturn nature & 2) getting lazy & not being romantic any more.

The second should be fixable but I don't think the first is.

It seems like previously when you were travelling a lot the exterior stimulation provided interest & perhaps masked this aspect of your relationship dynamic.

I agree with mumsyblouse that if you were working outside the home it may not feel like such a disaster that he's so quiet in the evenings. Would that be a viable possibility given that you've got kids?

My dad was quiet, my & sis & I reckon he's Asperger's spectrum. When I read detailed information on the condition, it was like a light went on, and random aspects of his behaviour & habits suddenly all pulled together & made sense. I don't think there was much stimulation in his family growing up, children were very much seen & not heard.

Scientific literature over the past 40 years has documented the superior language skills of girls, and I think boys who aren't specifically verbally stimulated as children are more disadvantaged by this than girs.

It's funny because, perhaps as a reaction to my dad's reticence, part of my husband's attraction was that he talks a lot.

MillyRules Wed 23-Oct-13 20:49:17

Have you asked him if he is happy with your relationship? Have you asked him if he is still in love with you?

lurkinglorna Wed 23-Oct-13 20:50:31

This kind of person often strikes me as emotionally playing hard to get - trying to create the illusion that they're awfully sophisticated and above small talk, and full of deep, wonderful ideas which they are keeping hidden.

Unless the audience is "oh my god, you're so clever and impressive" they refuse to participate - they want a situation where the partner basically has to beg for their attention, make them feel important?

When I think of the two men I'm emotionally closest to, we communicate loads and they're very "open" with their thoughts and their bad jokes Of course, sometimes I'm thinking "huh, you're dull and/or I'm not really listening?"?

But that's part of the hurly burly of a normal social interaction? Just as I myself sometimes, often, get ignored or spoken over or someone thinks I'm dull? It stings a bit, but I don't close off cause I'm not ten any more.

Its passive aggressive to then throw one's toys out of the pram and go:

"YOU don't like me! I'm going to punish you by ignoring you and only talk to other NICE people who provide me with a gold star for approval and hang onto my every word"

PerpendicularVincentPrice Wed 23-Oct-13 20:55:25

DH's dad is very similar, it's always puzzled me. MIL is a lovely, chatty person and I can't imagine how they got together.

FIL is good with small children but with adults - nothing. It's almost as if he finds adult relationships and conversation too stressful.

I don't really know what the solution is but am wondering how many more years you can keep feeling this way. Could you see a councillor to clarify your feelings?

Charbon Wed 23-Oct-13 20:59:16

Have you ever read anything about Transactional Analysis and specifically the controlling parent and the nurturing parent roles?

Because it strikes me that your husband operates from the parental ego state in your relationship. Before the children, maybe that was more nurturing (the tickle fights) and now that you're a mother yourself, it is more controlling.

I agree with a lot of what Lorna said about silence and disengagement being controlling behaviour and I'm often struck by how many times people get it wrong when they describe the extrovert, driven half of the partnership as the one with more power. The reverse is often true.

The person with the most power is the one who does less, invests less in the relationship and controls events through their disengagement. It's often described as the 'stingray and clam' couple-fit where the stingray is seen as aggressive and powerful but in fact the clam is more powerful because of his impenetrability.

This is often gendered too and I was interested to see that he talks about his role as a provider male, an incredibly restrictive and old-fashioned role.

It's also gendered because men who don't engage are often described as 'strong and silent' whereas the same behaviour in women is described as 'sulking' or 'giving people the silent treatment'. An extrovert man is described as 'outgoing and sociable' whereas women's socialising is often reduced to 'gossiping' or 'inane chatter'.

You don't mention how he is with friends, colleagues or extended family members? Is he the same with them or is it just you for whom he makes less effort?

This might give you more insight into whether it is a role he has assumed in your relationship, or whether this is his personality.

In TA terms, the adult-adult ego states are what you are aiming for. Parent and Child roles will always cause problems.

HogiBear27 Wed 23-Oct-13 21:49:54

Is it worth considering some counselling?

It sounds like is a lot of good stuff to work with here - the support he gives you and how good he is with your kids.

I think the finances thing has made a big impact on him - and blokes deal with things differently from us.

I know it may be difficult to get him to agree to it but if you are considering such a big decision like leaving, then it may be worth suggesting. It could open you both up in a neutral environment.

I hope things work out for you all.

Northbynorthwestnorthernline Wed 23-Oct-13 22:10:19

Charbon - thank you. I am off to google now. Just your summary makes me feel saner.

CharityFunDay Wed 23-Oct-13 23:27:22


If he's always been like this, then caveat emptor applies.

If he's grown to be like this, you need counselling. Or a divorce.

JoylessFucker Thu 24-Oct-13 13:05:00

Reading this thread, there were mega resonances for me. My ex was a good, decent and kind man who was just very shy. He could be funny and good company but seemed to surround himself with extraverts so that he didn't actually need to. My friends stopped socialising with us as a couple because he did not engage and appeared to make absolutely no effort to socially interact. The Aspergers boxes were all ticked and for a while I was made to feel that it wasn't his fault he couldn't communicate and that I needed to suck it up. But his behaviour became more and more extreme and I finally couldn't take it. Since I left, I have had mega challenges (including cancer) but I am so much happier, have been more "me", more valued and appreciated since leaving than during our 14 years together.

One book I read after we split up was on the subject of EQ (emotional quotient/intelligence) by Daniel Goleman. I thought it was going to be a bit Mars & Venus and so wasn't taking it seriously, just couldn't sleep in a friend's house and picked it up. When I hit the chapter about zero EQ, I sat bolt upright and re-read it over & over. In the morning, I asked my friend to read that chapter and they said "oh that's your Ex to a T". The book I read just described the various levels of EQ and the possible causes. The same author has written another book on working with EQ see here and I wonder if that might be helpful to you OP.

Whatever you decide, good luck and don't be guilted into staying if you know you need to leave for your own emotional wellbeing.

This thread resonates with me too. ExDP is very much an introvert, but used to make an effort. Then he just stopped, and retreated more and more into himself. I stopped making the effort (absolutely recognise the inane chatting in restaurants), and was shocked that it fell apart in a matter of weeks.

I've learnt there's a fine line between being quiet and introverted, and being passive aggressive. His friend said to me 'still waters run deep', and even DP thought this was funny as there just really wasn't that much going on inside his head.

I loved DP and wanted to stay together, but it didn't take me long to feel freer and lighter without feeling responsible for him. Some people genuinely are more emotionally self-sufficient, and don't have the same need for intimacy and communication.

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