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Help! Emotionally unavailable DH (and me!)(22 Posts)
Long time lurker, sometime commenter, NC as personal and outing.
Please help with some of your fabulous MN advice I'm at breaking point.
Have a lovely DH loads in common, very supportive ( practically) marriage BUT it seems like our relationship is entirely dependent on me being OK all the time and having zero emotional needs. This seems to have worked OK till now because I generally cope by throwing my self into things, being busy, making the best of things etc etc.
But it's been a tough few years with family bereavements and other things. DH has been ill, not working much and I feel under a massive burden, working, pulling the financial load, looking after the house, extended family (no kids) as well as helping DH with his illness (physical and mental components) etc etc.
I'm at breaking point. I've said it to him in words of one syllable occasionally. He just clams up goes totally silent and just seems to wait it out until I have no choice but to go back to normal, coping and making the best.
I find it really upsetting and I know its partly my fault for never being helpless or vulnerable but it's a if I'm a robot with no needs at all just an occasional reboot!!
Any advice please before I get committed because work is so stressful at the minute, other stressful life events going on too and I'm just getting nothing :'( feel like curling up in a ball!!
Didn't want to read & run, also hope this bumps it for you. No advice I'm afraid except maybe couples therapy might help if he would go with you.
Have you spoken to your DH about this issue? Told him what you need at these times? It certainly sounds like you're very stressed just now and I can imagine it's really frustrating feeling that you're not being emotionally supported.
During the time he's "waiting it out", what does he do, if anything? Do you tell him once about how you're feeling or several times?
Thankyou all @NonsensicalHair he literally just goes completely silent and carries on as usual. Eg last time I said I'm really not OK he just said nothing for ages, so I said, you know i think it's really mean of you to just completely ignore me when I say something like that and he said I'm not ignoring you. I got quite upset because, well, complete silence is ignoring you isn't it? He just kept repeating im not ignoring you. Like he actually believes it? But it's also impossible for him to say "what do you mean" "what's bothering you" "how are you doing".
A couple of examples... a close relative was terminally ill (very young) and overseas and had had a turn for the worse. Family had rushed to see them and I was awaiting a call. DH knew this. We had been out and on the way home we're discussing dinner plans when I realised I had a missed call and frantically called back. When I got off the phone the first thing he said was "so are we getting pizza then?" As if nothing had happened. Not even "who was that?" "How's your relative?" Nothing.
Another very close relative died a few years ago. Again same from DH never once asked how I felt, how I was coping etc, just expected to get on with it (which I did so own worst enemy in a way I know!). One day I was struggling and said I'm really upset that this happened and you never once asked how I was. He said "you seemed OK so I didn't want to upset you". I know this is trotted out a lot but bear in mind DH has also lost someone very close to him very young which we have talked about a lot along with how crap it is when people say that exact kind of thing. I just thought he might have a tiny bit more insight?? Am I asking too much?
Did you point out the thing with the relative at the time? What would he say if you referred back to that now as an example of why you’re upset/not happy with things?
Sadly my husband is a bit like this, and although he’s got better (because of me pointing things out), I can tell it doesn’t come naturally and therefore comes across a bit staged.
I’ve more or less resigned myself to having my emotional needs met by other family and friends. Which makes me sad on an ongoing basis.
I always think the reason why we team up with someone else, a dp or a dh, is because our life is improved, we are happier, and life is easier. That doesn't seem to be so in your case. Your life is compromised and not improved in any way. So what's the point? You haven't got DC so it shouldn't be so hard, except that you've got a passenger, hitching a free ride and contributing nothing. I know you say he's ill, but is that your fault?
You have to grab the reins and take control. How old are you? How long can you carry on like this? Imagine you both live to 80!
I think he would just say "well what do you want me to say?" It's like he needs me to describe word for word the conversation we would need to have and then he would try and repeat it, but it's impossible for him to think of anything to say for himself.
I would love to get support from family and friends but the family members I would most confide in are sadly no longer with us (see above) or dealing with the loss of those family members... and i guess friends are also at a stressful time of life (late 30s) with kids and other demands so I don't like to add to that. I don't really have anyone very much else to turn to...
Yeah I’m seeing a guy like this. It’s like nothing moves him, not even when things happen to me he doesn’t show any concern at all. It makes me feel like he doesn’t care. I’ve never brought it up because honestly asking you how you are and showing concern and empathy should come naturally especially if you care for someone. But unless it directly affects him he basically is unmoved.
Talk to him about it but I think this is a personality trait that just can’t be changed. So it’s deal with it or leave unfortunately.
How is he with talking generally? Just chit chat etc?
Thanks @Singlenotsingle, thing is, I do love him and he's a great husband generally, kind, placid, and on a practical level would do anything for me (as long as i specify!) and in all other respects we're a great team. I knew what I was getting myself in to when I married him. BUT it would just be so nice if we could improve this one thing because I feel so alone atm
I’m afraid I agree with widespread - I don’t thing you can do much to significantly change him so it’s a case of finding ways to accept it and live with it - eg focus on his other strong points. Or leave.
I’m not sure I could be in a sustainable relationship with someone like this. I’m aware that I’m less than caring sometimes, I do expect my DH to get on with stuff-I’m wary due to his father’s emotional breakdown/mh issues and scared he might slide that way, very shit of me, I know.
Does your DH have someone in his family (or yours) who he’s worried you might emulate? Or is he just an unfeeling, lacking in the milk of human kindness type? I hesitate to mention autism, as this is always brought up on here, but does he understand the idea that he’s meant to give a shit? If you have to coach him to ask after your feelings, I doubt he’s ever going to be the touchy feely type.
I'm an extravert and he's an introvert, so he's not a big talker all the time. But we never run out of general conversation about "stuff "... films,TV, books, current affairs, the goings on of family and friends etc. Just not so much on the emotional side i guess. But we do talk about "his stuff" a bit i.e. loss, anxiety, mental health and I try to be supportive, empathetic, build his confidence by telling him how great he is etc. Thank him when he does something nice or helpful. I'm not perfect and we're both a bit avoidance but I really do try to be there for him and I think he'd say I was. So I don't know why he seems unable to do the same. I sometimes feel like a bit of a 'mum ' to him in terms of looking after him so maybe that's how he sees me?
That sounds really hard OP. I can well imagine that you feel a little uncared for.
I don't have any real advice to offer, but like PPs my DP can be a little like this. His issue seems to be that he doesn't like emotional conversations which, in his view, aren't focused on problem solving. Sometimes I just want to talk something through with him, and he always tries to think of 'solutions'. When I say that maybe there aren't any solutions to the particular problem (eg feeling sad about something), he gets really frustrated and asks why I brought it up with him if I don't want solutions!
I guess in my case I have accepted it because he makes me happy in lots of other ways, and I seek emotional support elsewhere, mainly from my female friends.
I come from a long line of copers hence the username so no, no history of breakdown to worry him I don't think! The ASD thing could be a bit true, he's very academically bright and can struggle in social situations but never "puts his foot in it" and general can empathise eg with sad things in films he will cry more than me tbh. So it's not like he doesn't feel sorry for other people. It's more like he's so reliant on me to be OK and prop him up that he can't cope with the idea that I'm vaguely human/ have any weakness (beyond the usual losing my car keys on a regular basis )
I should have said, I’m sorry you have lost family members etc. I’d be really lost without my mum/sister.
I think there are often difficulties in relationships where they start off with each taking on a role and then that role changes or needs to change. Eg your ‘mum’ role.
Also I think it’s well known that women change/evolve/grow more than men.
Is it possible that he has is undiagnosed ASD? I only ask because this happened to a friend, she nearly broke up with her husband due to his inability to emotionally connect on some level, and also he couldn't deviate from a plan. Then they had an aha! moment and realised and he has now had it confirmed, so it doesn't make her life that much easier but she certain understands a lot more.
That said, my STBXH is also a bit like this. He has one face, one reaction, whether it's 'shall we have chicken' or 'if you won't give up porn then we will have to separate'.
I too was really disappointed in his inability to help me when my step dad died.
He does sound quite extreme in his lack of social ability regarding your issues. Most children, boys included, are able to see when someone is hurt right back to school days. The watch other children help the fallen, crying child getting up and can see both children and adults gathering around them, hugging them, telling them everything's going to be ok, offering solutions - he seems to have never learnt or applied this himself which is very strange.
With a film, the lines are all there for him. It's scripted and all he has to do is be a passive observer and be swept along. When it's you, he has to start thinking on his feet in a way that might be much harder for him than an average person.
My first question would be 'When you see that I'm upset, how do you feel? Does anything run through your mind'? He might not be able to answer than easily though as he might feel confusion, panic or a numbness. Worth seeing what he says though.
It's not much of a relationship when you can only be the way he wants, is it? I don't see the point of living this way, honestly. You're a human being with normal emotions, married to someone who wants you to be an always happy robot. Nope. That's no way to live.
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