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Why am I so anxious when all I've done is raise an issue?

(61 Posts)
bananamilkshake1 Tue 26-Jul-16 12:37:35

Hi - longtime lurker & not posted for a while but looking for a sense check on a current relationship issue.

First, my DP is a good man and has supported my through some very difficult times in my life. However, we have a communication issue in that neither of us will directly raise any issues with each other - so they simmer under the surface or get brushed under the carpet. We are both conflict adverse and I have spent my entire adult life trying to appease everyone around me - I'm a people pleaser to the extent my own wishes are often overlooked.

Anyway, we are having a very dry spell & the physical side of our relationship has all but vanished. It's the elephant in the room and the longer it goes on, the worse it gets. We now have pretty much no physical contact at all - not even a kiss :-(. We live seperately & when we spend time together, sleep in seperate bedrooms. This has always been the case re sleeping due to him being a v light sleeper & me a wriggler - but we always managed to have a good sex life.

I was ill last year, had major surgery & our sex life has never got back on track. I am desperate for a return to some kind of intimacy but neither of us discuss it & "it" or lack of, has become the norm.

Each weekend we are together, I want to raise it - don't get me wrong, we have nice times together but I've felt anxious about raising it as an issue for discussion because it's never a good time - it's the weekend, he's had a busy week at work and just wants to relax etc.

Last night I emailed him & raised the subject. I know not ideal, but we don't have long conversations on the phone, generally don't see each other during the week and I never just turn up at his house. I spent ages crafting an email which said how i was feeling, but in a non blame way, focusing on the good points of our relationship but saying we needed to talk at the weekend as I wasn't happy with a just friends arrangement & doubt he was either. As soon as I pressed send, I had a tight knot in my chest and (kind of) as expected he sent me a 2 line response saying he didn't need that at the start of a working week, sorry I was so dissatisfied and was very defensive.

I'm now at work, feeling sick and guilty I have even raised the subject when I know he probably feels I'm being ungrateful for all he does for me. The 2 issues are seperate though aren't they?

By the way, we've been together a number of years and are both 50's. It looks pathetic I know but other than raising the subject by email, AIBU?


loveyoutothemoon Tue 26-Jul-16 13:10:05

He is being insensitive and childish.

Dump him.

TheNaze73 Tue 26-Jul-16 14:55:21

Sounds like you're stuck in a rut & one of you needs to break the cycle. Can't say I agree loveyou Sounds like both of you need to work at it. Why don't you go out for dinner & bring it up outside your usual environment. I'd be mightily pissed off at getting an email like that OP. Good luck flowers

bananamilkshake1 Tue 26-Jul-16 15:06:21

Thanks for the replies. TheNaze - can I ask why you'd be pissed off getting an email like that? Is it the subject matter or the fact it was done over email?


thestamp Tue 26-Jul-16 15:07:14

There's nothing wrong with sending an email. For people who struggle with confrontation it can be a good way of raising things.

If he didn't like the medium he could have said so. You made yourself vulnerable by starting the conversation, and he's basically told you to shut up and not do it again? Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

Not to be too dramatic OP but some things in a relationship are just basic and foundational. For example you should feel able to talk about how you feel and have the other person, at WORST, say "I can tell you're upset, I don't feel ready to talk about it now but we'll address it. Oh and in future could you use x way of raising an issue, in prefer that." It's not actually hard, it really isn't.

You can't have a happy life with someone who won't let you talk about stuff.

What do you get out of this relationship? Is it worth not being allowed to talk about stuff?

dothedab Tue 26-Jul-16 15:13:30

I think you were brave to send that email. And it seems as if you worded it carefully too. His response sounds defensive but it had be done. It's not unreasonable to want to be more than friends if you are supposedly in a relationship with someone.

LadyLayLay Tue 26-Jul-16 15:17:06

He's being defensive because he either knows it's a big issue or he's feeling inadequate.

For being in his 50s he sounds incredibly immature. "Doesn't need that at the start of a working week". What does he do - work down the mines? confused

When else are you supposed to talk about it and why is he prioritising work over you?

bananamilkshake1 Tue 26-Jul-16 15:28:33

The stamp & dothedab - thanks. I'm feeling guilty because I know he does lots of lovely things for me and am worried it's going to get misconstrued if I raise any kind of issue which he sees as dissatisfaction or ungratefulness. Sadly, this has happened before which is why it takes a lot for me to raise anything.

He's pretty much said as much on an email exchange we had this morning. I sent him a quick note to say I was thinking of him & sorry he was hurt by my email - not my intention at all. His curt response said I had betrayed him & demonstrated a lack of loyalty.

I can't understand why this has caused such an extreme response. Sure, emailing isn't ideal - I get that, but raising the issue in person is almost impossible as I'm aware I may "ruin" an evening.

When he's in a happy place, then we have a happy time. When he's not, or stressed, or irritated about something, then less so & I tread on eggshells a bit. If he's not happy, he'll still look after me & do nice things, but I'll admit I don't enjoy them as much because of his mood - I'd rather he be happy than do things for me if that makes sense. I'll admit I let an awful lot slide because it's not worth upsetting the applecart.

That sounds worse that it is I know - but yes, I do feel like I've been told off for saying I'm not happy. He has taken it very personally.

Oh dear...

HermioneJeanGranger Tue 26-Jul-16 15:43:20

Sorry, but if I got to work and recieved an e-mail like that, I would be really upset, and I certainly wouldn't be in the mood to discuss it or accept any platitudes by text message.

Why can you two not sit and talk about it like rational adults? I don't think discussing sexual inadquacies/problems by e-mail is a very smart move, tbh. Are you scared of telling him in person because of his reaction, or do you both struggle to communicate in general?

Unless you live a long way apart, I have to admit I think it's a bit unusual to only see each other at weekends and to rarely communicate in between. Are you happy with the current set-up? If not, I can see why that could translate to incompatibility in the bedroom.

You need to speak to him in person OP. Not e-mail him criticising your sex-life and expect him to be happy to discuss it!

Cabrinha Tue 26-Jul-16 15:57:10

I think his reaction to the email shows exactly the reason the OP ended up doing it by email!

If he can't cope with having a work life and a love life, he needs to stop dating.

OP sent the email on a Monday night. OK, I'd be annoyed to get an "issues" email first thing in the morning at work, but this was in the evening.

I do agree with PPs that email isn't ideal - but I can see why OP did it, and I don't think it's that bad.

You should only bother with someone who loves you. Someone who loves you would respond positively. They might be initially defensive, even rude. But then they would say - OK, let's talk on Sat - I do love you.

It's very telling that this seems to be quite tip of the iceberg with OP already dancing to his moods. Fuck that.

Defensive I would say is understandable. I'd be saying, are there ED issues now he's in his 50s that he's embarrassed about, etc... but it sounds like there's a history of putting up with crap from him - so I'm less tolerant of his reaction to this email!

TheNaze73 Tue 26-Jul-16 15:59:33

Hi OP, just the fact that you'd done it by email. If I felt like I was being attacked, which no doubt he would, I'd probably have hit delete & thought fuck this. I totally get why and don't think you'd purposely go out of your way to antagonise him, just think it was the wrong method. Just an opinion & how I'd see it smile

RatherBeRiding Tue 26-Jul-16 16:14:03

I think whatever you say, and however you say it, will be perceived as an "attack". All that walking on egg-shells stuff, and any kind of perceived "dissatisfaction" being seen as "disloyal" or "ungrateful". Wow. Does HE every express any dissatisfaction? Do you ever have any disagreements?

He has huge issues, far beyond any communication issues.

As Cabrinha said - even if he was stung by the email, if he really cared about you and your feelings, and about your relationship, he would take on board that there is something that really needs talking about and resolving and would be keen to do that. It doesn't sound as though he is. He sounds selfish.

Not sure how you perceive your relationship going - is it really worth the walking on egg-shells? The prolonged dry spell? You say he does nice things - but it sounds as though it's very much on his terms.

In your shoes I would have "the talk" but be prepared for it to go badly. But maybe think about what you really want, what you are prepared to accept and finally - is the current state of play worth it??

thestamp Tue 26-Jul-16 16:21:10

betrayed him & demonstrated a lack of loyalty

OK, sorry but he's a fucking child. I mean... really? Betrayed him? It's a fucking email ffs. And you've sent it because if you try to bring it up in person, he's just as petulant and pathetic.

I was married to someone a little like this, a younger version but I suspect he would have ended up very similar to what you describe. His dad is the same and just got worse as he got older. This sense that his moods are everything and that everyone MUST dance attendance on him and cosset his every hurt feeling.

I so identify with the whole "well I can't bring it up of an evening or he'll say I've ruined the evening, and sulk... and I can't bring it up on a Friday or Saturday or he'll say I've ruined the weekend, and sulk... and I can't bring it up on a Sunday or I've ruined his work week, and he'll sulk... so maybe I'll try an email?" I've been where you are.

Can you not throw in the towel? Because realistically, the only hope is counseling and him actually wanting to communicate better. And if he's like my ex, there's no way in hell that's an option for him. So why bother?

category12 Tue 26-Jul-16 16:25:02

Gosh he sounds like hard work. And you can't be yourself with him and you can't talk about things without 'ruining' time together.

This ain't right and you aren't normally expected to be perpetually grateful in a relationship.

What nice things does he actually do that mean you have to be happy and grateful all the time?

thestamp Tue 26-Jul-16 16:28:05

you aren't normally expected to be perpetually grateful in a relationship

quoted for truth. The expectation that you should always be grateful for how wonderful a man is, is really a low-key control tactic. He sets things up so that you are not allowed to complain, basically. It's not on.

SandyY2K Tue 26-Jul-16 16:34:14

Even though it would have been better in person, I understand why the OP did it this way as I've done something similar myself.

I did it because I wanted to get my point across without interruptions and without a big argument.

His response about betrayal is just ridiculous. He could have and should have said, we'll discuss it when we next see each other. Rather than act like it's not an issue. TBH I'd feel pissed off if I was the OP and got that response.

The email wasn't blaming and it was trying to address a mutual problem, which most men would be happy to do.

Can I ask if he was a very sexual kind of man before your illness? High sex drive?

bananamilkshake1 Tue 26-Jul-16 17:06:13

We had a great sex life before my surgery - so that was for the better part of 5 years. I wouldn't say an overly high sex drive but we were very compatible & happy with this side of our relationship.

I completely get the email approach wasn't ideal but I knew the issue needed raising and I thought written down I would be ble to keep my emotions in check/get my point across in a non controntational way. I waited until close of business on Monday & sent it to his home email address thinking that he'd have time to consider before we spoke. I was gentle and phrased it around general intimacy rather than prioritising the sex issue. Actually, I didn't mention the word "sex" once.

It's gone massively tits up though because now i feel like the bad guy by raising a key relationship issue & have been made to feel like an ungrateful cow. He is certainly massively aggrieved and "not good enough" even though I have taken great pains to dispel this. He feels how he feels, as do I.

We have the odd minor disagreement but have only really argued once in our entire relationship. I don't make an issue of little things and do let a lot go - I cut him a lot of slack and am hugely patient.

He is an acts of service man & goes to huge lengths to make everything lovely for me - making a big deal of birthdays, organises loads of stuff for us to do, does the lions share of cooking etc when I go to his house over the weekend. He was also completely selfless and supportive when I was ill last year & always says how well I have dealt with it & how he wouldn't have been able to do that. Lent me money to buy a car - the list goes on.

His point of view appears to be he does all this stuff & still it's not enough - when i see the two things as different.

However, it's the whole approach which is the issue here I think.

brightnearly Tue 26-Jul-16 20:41:25

You don't owe him, and voicing your discontent (which, by the sounds of it, basically boils down to 'I miss you'!) must be allowed for a relationship to function.

brightnearly Tue 26-Jul-16 20:45:35

If possible, create a little distance for a while, enjoy yourself without him a bit more, and wait it out a little...I think it can sometimes take a while for men to digest these things.

showsomeclass Tue 26-Jul-16 22:01:46

OP - I completely get you

Very similar story here (or heading that way if I carry on)

Read my thread if it helps?


GettingScaredNow Tue 26-Jul-16 22:19:38

I know exactly how you feel.
I know those knots. I know that sick feeling. I know the egg shells. I know what you went through and how many times you rewrote and rewrote and rewrote that email.
And I know the hope you had that the reply would be such a blaming shut down.
And I know the disappointment when it was a blaming shut down.

Cos I had that with my husband. There was never a good time to talk about anything.
Not at the weekend as its the weekend and he needs to rest, relax.
Not before work cos he is going to work and he doesn't need his whole day being ruined by my nagging or complaining.
Not after work cos he's been at work and is tired and wants to relax before dinner.
Not after dinner cos now he is tired and wants to wind down before bed and talking will wind him up.

Well, sorry mate but you have just covered every possible moment that there is.
Oh I forgot, can't talk about anything serious during dinner cos he is eating and doesn't want that ruined by me either.

I'm divorcing him. The above is part of the reasons why.

If your partner is similar then I would leave if I were you.
Communication is key.
You can't have a healthy happy relationship if your always nervous to bring anything up incase it annoys him or he brushes it aside and when you bring it up again then your a nag. That's no life.

SandyY2K Tue 26-Jul-16 23:18:10

When you see him maybe explain that you were raising the issue because you are thinking off you both missing what you had before you became ill.

That you are grateful for the support and patience from him at that difficult time and you really want things to get back to how they were. That you enjoyed the intimacy you shared and this wasn't a critiscm or attack on him.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 26-Jul-16 23:38:07

What's so terrible about a ruined evening?

What's so terrible about him being in a mood?

Seriously, what? Why can't that ever be allowed to happen when something is making you unhappy?

You have been feeling terrible about the lack of sex. It has ruined loads of your weekends. Why does that matter less?

Disloyal. Betrayal. What? That's bonkers. How is complaining about lack of sex disloyal or a betrayal? Did you say you were planning on getting it elsewhere?

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 26-Jul-16 23:40:48

Now he knows you aren't happy with becoming friends instead of sexual partners. He's not happy with how you told him but really that doesn't matter much at the end of the day. The problem still exists and he knows it is a problem for you now. What does he suggest you could both do about it?

AnyFucker Tue 26-Jul-16 23:45:30

I think the reason you have such a knot in your stomach is because he is not such a nice man as you paint him at all

You just haven't acknowledged it to yourself yet

He shuts you down on such an important manner in a most manipulative way. I don't think he deserves that pedestal you have him on.

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