Advanced search

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.

Emotionally distant wife

(59 Posts)
SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 01:01:21

I've been married to my wife for 6 years, and before that we were together for 7 years.

In the beginning, things were great. We would share lots of hugs and kisses, hold hands and have regular sex. We were best friends and shared everything.

Around the time we were married, sex became less regular but we were still emotionally close. I've always had a high sex drive, so the infrequent sex did start to cause some tensions. We went from sex a couple of times a week to once or twice a month (now it can be 2-3 months plus between sex).

We've always shared the housework 50-50, and as my wife can't drive, I'd take her to work and pick her up. She's a nurse so works all hours - but I'd happily get up at 6 to take her, and pick her up at night. I mention this to show I'm not a lazy husband who takes my wife for granted.

My wife has always wanted children but suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome, so before we could have children we attended a fertility clinic. Once we were given a course of treatment she wanted sex all the time.

If I'm honest, this stirred a bit of resentment within me. Sex had become non-existent, but because she wanted a baby, she attempted to initiate sex pretty much every day. We were lucky and she conceived. Her sexual appetite continued up until the birth.

After the birth, understandably, we didn't even attempt sex for 6 months or so. My daughter is now two and a half, and is a joy. We both love her to bits and I've surprised myself at how much I enjoy fatherhood.

I do the majority of the childcare due to my wife's long days and frequent nights. Because she doesn't drive, I do all the nursery runs and taking my DD to and from grandparents, who help look after her a couple of days a week. We still share the housework 50/50.

As I mentioned previously, since the birth, sex has diminished to nothing. At first this bothered me, and we did argue about it on occasion. But my wife finds it incredibly difficult to open up and talk, especially if the conversation regards serious matters, or is emotionally charged. She just goes silent and cant get any words out.

This makes it incredibly difficult to resolve anything; I like to have things in the open rather than leave them festering inside me.

A bigger issue than the lack of sex is what I feel to be an emotional distance developing. We no longer hold hands, hug or kiss unless I initiate it. Because I don't want my wife to feel compelled to have sex, I've even started waiting for her to initiate it because I'm tired of being rejected. The fact that I have to initiate any emotional contact is also making me feel resentful.

We can go days now with barely saying a word to each other, or even seeing each other. I try to let her know how I feel but the conversations go nowhere.

I'm at a point where I constantly feel sad and partially depressed. When with my wife I feel I'm being more distant and unresponsive. She seems oblivious to any of this and carries on as if there are no issues in our relationship. What worries me more is for the past 6 months or so, even though I pleasure myself regularly, I've felt no desire to have sex with my wife. I've given up attempting, and have stopped going to bed at the same time.

I told her this evening I want to talk about the relationship, but because she had other commitments, she said we can't really do it today. After dinner, she wet out to a meeting. When she got home she just went straight on the computer and then came to bed, not mentioning anything I said earlier. I feel like sleeping downstairs tonight to try and force a conversation and show her I feel there is something seriously wrong at the moment.

I had a emotionally abusive childhood, with a suicidal mother and an alcoholic father who would occasionally be violent towards my mother and me. After years of abuse this cumulated in an attempt to kill me when I was 15 to which I had to escape through a second story window and not go home for a month. He was roaring drunk at the time. This was a turning point for him and not long after, he asked for help and has been sober for the past 17 years. I am good terms with my parents now, but there is a distance between us, and if I ever mention the past, my mum bursts out crying and my dad acts as if I've said nothing. I once went to therapy, but because I was under 16, my parents sat in on the sessions. This made it pointless.

I mention this because I acknowledge I have issues getting close to people, and once I drift away, I shut off emotionally. I've lost many friends due to this. I'm worried that the emotional drift I'm feeling with my wife will cause my emotions to shut off and there will be no going back.

I've no idea how to set things right. I do Love her, even though right now I'm not sure how much. I'd love to suggest going to counselling, but I know my wife would close down and become unresponsive.

I'm at my wits end and am feeling increasingly alone and depressed. Is there any hope for our marriage?

custardo Tue 10-Dec-13 01:07:04

if she wont communicate with you about this in any way - i can't see how this will be resolved, but you can still go to counselling on your own - and i think you should

BillyBanter Tue 10-Dec-13 01:14:12

I'd 2nd counselling. Suggest it for both or go yourself or a mixture. Lots of couples counselling involves individual sessions.

BillyBanter Tue 10-Dec-13 01:15:32

Give it your all but also know that it is sometimes better to parent well separately than live together unhappily.

JollySantersSelectionBox Tue 10-Dec-13 01:26:17

A high sex drive can be overwhelming on a person that doesn't reciprocate. Sometimes they are wary that even the briefest show of affection will be misrepresented as a request for sex.

I think that because of your background and upbringing you may have a tendency to compartmentalise sex and being tactile as the only form of love and affection, i.e. if it isn't there the partner doesn't love you. I say this because my DH had a similar upbringing and felt the same.

He now realises that love and support comes in many forms.

However the lack of communication is troubling and not sustainable. I agree that you should attend counselling. Have you thought about pasting the jist of the feelings on this thread into an email and sending it to her. Give some time and space to her to absorb a mail of your feelings before approaching another confrontation.

LuisGarcia Tue 10-Dec-13 01:43:50

You're a man asking for help with your relationship on mumsnet, and I am a man on mumsnet, so I for once feel able to comment here.

You have given us no insight at all into what your wife feels or why.

You want sex. Fine. That's reasonable. You want intimacy. Fine. That's reasonable. You split the housework 50/50? Really? How? Is 50/50 actually possible? How do you do that? Do you have a scorechart?

The "majority of the childcare" does not involve dropping the daughter off at nursery or grandparents at age 2 1/2, sorry. It involves being clamped down by a feeding infant, it involves self identity shifts, it involves relentless guilt and shame, it involves utterly destroyed sleep patterns with no hope of relief. It involves career hits. It involves an exhaustion you honestly give no sign of seeing.

It involves someone being dependent on you forgetting yourself. You don't seem to have forgotten yourself.

You did ask.

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 01:51:37

Hi Custardo and BillyBanter, I've considered going to counselling on my own, but I have no idea where to start looking.

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 01:56:42

Hi Jolly, I'm conscious of the fact my wife my might interpret physical affection as an attempt at initiating sex. I've tried discussing this with her, but as described in my post, she doesn't respond. I wanted her to at least understand that I understood what she might be thinking.

Many years ago, if she had any issues (as gleaned from her demeanour) she would be able to write down what was worrying her if I asked - so writing my concerns down in an email might be a way forward.

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:08:06

Luis. It's hard to gauge what my wife is feeling or thinking. Her outward demeanour is one of happiness, and she's very poor at hiding her emotions. If anything is bothering her she freezes up.

When we met she was suicidally depressed and self harming due to issues with her family. I supported her as much as I possibly could, and helped her to see a therapist. She hasn't harmed for nearly 10 years and is on good terms with her family now. In her eyes she is married, has a family and the job she's always wanted to do. I know things aren't as simple as that, but on the whole, she is content and happy. THis is where some of my depression comes from, because I know I can hurt her a lot of I do rock our marriage.

Regarding the housework, she does the ironing and sorts the washing. I deal with the pets, trash, hovering and washing up. It balances out.

The majority of the childcare is driving 3 hours every Monday to drop my DD off and pick her up from grandparents. Doing the nursery runs. Driving her to and from her other grandparents on Thursdays. Spending all of my days off with my DD on my own, feeding her, playing with her, going out with her while my wife works 12 hour shifts. My wife works most weekends, and generally has nursery days off. I do the majority of the bedtimes, my wife might do a few every 3-4 weeks. I generally cook most meals too.

On top of this I drive my wife to and from work and to her social engagements (which I encourage her to attend as she barely has any social life outside of work).

I've forgotten myself by having no social life now and having to working until 2-3 am most evenings and 8-5 mon to fri. My job is intense, but luckily I can do a lot of it from home at night.

BillyBanter Tue 10-Dec-13 02:19:20

It doesn't sound like either of you have much free time at all. Maybe it just reads that way. Do you spend quality time together as a family or as a couple? How often does she have sole care of your dc?

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:24:54

This is an issue Billy. Every couple of months we might have a weekend day together - outside of that, I take care of my DD on weekends and my wife takes care of her during the day on any Monday or Thursday she does work.
Because she leaves the house at half 6 and doesn't get back into until after half past 9, we rarely have any time to ourselves. Her shifts are a major reason why we can go days with barely speaking.

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:26:03

*she doesn't work, not does.

But it's easier as I'll be there in the evening. I'd be lying if I didn't admit being the sole care provider all day on Sat and Sun can be hard.

LuisGarcia Tue 10-Dec-13 02:29:09

*Regarding the housework, she does the ironing and sorts the washing. I deal with the pets, trash, hovering and washing up. It balances out.

Do you think this is an exhaustive housework list?

The majority of the childcare is driving 3 hours every Monday to drop my DD off and pick her up from grandparents. Doing the nursery runs. Driving her to and from her other grandparents on Thursdays. Spending all of my days off with my DD on my own, feeding her, playing with her, going out with her while my wife works 12 hour shifts. My wife works most weekends, and generally has nursery days off. I do the majority of the bedtimes, my wife might do a few every 3-4 weeks. I generally cook most meals too.*

What does your wife do with her days off?

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:33:33

It's not an exhaustive list. I don't like people doing things for me, so I tend to do more of the house work, and if we are both in, offer to do it all.

It depends when her days off fall. If it's a Mon, Thurs or Fri, she'll look after our DD. If it's a Tue or Wed, I tell her to relax.

We break up cooking so we do it on alternate days. But due to her shifts, I cook the majority of the evenings.

LuisGarcia Tue 10-Dec-13 02:35:45

Who does / did the night stuff?

LuisGarcia Tue 10-Dec-13 02:37:17

Who assessed and booked the nursery?

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:38:20

As my wife doesn't get home until 9:30-10. I do most of the bedtimes, and as I work into the night, I go up to my DD if she wakes up.
I've never needed much sleep, so I'm happy for my wife to catch up. Her shifts are exhausting, where my job is more desk/meeting based.

When my wife isn't working, she does some bedtimes, but my DD is very Daddy-oriented, so she usually calls for me to tuck her in and read her a story.

LuisGarcia Tue 10-Dec-13 02:39:03

Who does the shopping?

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:39:31

We both assessed and chose the nursery during my wife's maternity leave. As my wife doesn't drive, it would have been difficult for her to do it without me.

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:40:42

Post all these questions in one post? ;)

If my wife is at home on Friday, we do it together, else I do it with DD. If I have to work late on a Fri and my wife is at home, we book Ocado.

LuisGarcia Tue 10-Dec-13 02:42:44

Your wife sounds exhausted, but all you are presenting is what you do, and no insight to her. Sorry, and I realise I now have you on the defensive about this so should butt out, but that is how this has come across from the start.

Snakeoil Tue 10-Dec-13 02:48:32

Not sure how it would help with the emotional side, but why can't she learn to drive? You sound like you are doing more than your share of running around to ferry your wife and DD about. Also, if there are two sets of grandparents, can they take your DD overnight occasionally and let you have couple time?

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 10-Dec-13 02:53:19

luis is talking a lot of sense.

It sounds as if some issues - eg. your wife not driving - loom very large in your mind, almost as if this has become a scapegoat for the real issue? Trouble is, from your posts, I can't tell what the real issue is.

I am so sorry to read what you say about your childhood, it sounds horrible. What I don't quite get is the way you explain how that makes you feel - you're saying you worry you'd be unable to control your feelings about would 'shut off'. I can't help feeling that is a huge burden for her to carry - essentially to know that if she doesn't provide you with physical comfort and/or sex, she might trigger this response. I do see it may be something you cannot help, but if so, is it possible for you to explain to her you need some therapy on your own?

Final thing that confuses me - you say you do most of the childcare due to your wife's work schedule. I can totally see this may be fine for you, lots of people would be quite happy to have one partner do the majority if the other works long and antisocial hours. But you also say that you were surprised that you enjoy being a dad so much. Did you always plan this division of work, or did it just happen?

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:56:58

Answering your questions isn't being defensive. As mentioned in the posts above, my wife and I try to split the house work, and due to her not driving, I do anything which involves the car.

For example, last week she worked 2 nights and 2 long days. She had Friday and Saturday off. So on Friday she took our Daughter to a local play group, I met them for lunch, then we went shopping together in the evening.
On Saturday, I drove us out for lunch and then we drove to a local woodland park, and we spent the afternoon together there.

My wife's job is exhausting, but she's happy and wouldn't change what she does or her hours. I've turned down jobs which would enable her to give up work. She says if she gave up work she'd barely leave the house. Adding to my list of defensive points is putting my career progressing on hold. I can't take such jobs with my current commitments to DDs childcare.

It's hard to give valid insight to someone else when I'm describing my perception of our relationship at this point in time, but I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

SomeUsername Tue 10-Dec-13 02:57:29

Snakeoil, she has epilepsy, so isn't eligible.

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