Taken for granted & No communication

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2013
Taken for granted & No communication
11
Mon, 04-01-2013 - 11:34pm

My husband and I have been married for many years.  We never spend any time together.  We have kids and are busy with all their activities and both work.  DH also works all the time (his choice).  We rarely if ever go anywhere together and when we do we have nothing to say.  DH has never been a big talker but he never shares anything with me about his day, people he knows etc. and when he does say anything its like pulling teeth to get more information.  We went out for lunch a few months ago and it was a disaster. He didn't even try to make conversation and spent the majority of the time checking his phone for messages.  I am tired of trying to make conversation.  I have mentioned that we need to spend more time together and that he needs to talk more.  He will then take me out but we won't go out again until maybe 6 months later.  Please don't suggest counselling because he won't go.  In a week I think all combined we spend about 15 minutes talking.  In the evening he comes home and watches tv and I read.  He barely says anything. Has anyone else experienced this?  

 

 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2008
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 1:43am

Well, there's a need for counseling, so if he won't go fine - go by yourself.  What you're dealing with I think is more common than we may believe.  If it does any good at all, my DH was much like yours for many years.  He was mad at me because he wanted me to make a big change and I didn't do it.  I made the mistake of letting my control freak spouse know that communication was so important and didn't realize I just handed him another weapon by saying that; from then on he made sure he sat there evening after evening with his nose stuck in some kind of book and reading while he watched t.v.  It went on for years like that, with us having little conversation of any kind.  So I know how this feels.  Until he talks, you won't be able to understand why he does this year after year, and a therapist might have some better suggestions, but I have a feeling to get somewhere it might mean he has to be willing to try counseling where he would get some solid feedback.  What are you getting out of this marriage as it is?  Whatever that is, is it really enough?  It sounds to me like he is doing this at least partly deliberately, and if so, there's a reason and it needs to be addressed.  It sounds like a pretty lonely existence, like you're just two people who happen to live under one roof.  Your kids are noticing and learning, too, that alone is reason enough to need a pro's feedback. 

 

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 2:27pm

I agree with much of what the PP said.  By acting this way, your H is demonstrating to you AND your kids that what he wants is more important than working at a relationship.  I am guessing, by the fact that he's a workaholic, that the reason *he* stays married is that it would cost him time and money to be divorced. As harsh as it sounds, the way he's treating you makes it seem like he would be just as happy to flip a switch and make you all go away.

You've done your part and communicated your unhappiness to him, and he thinks a quick fix is to take you out so he can say he did it and then ignore you again until you complain again.  Personally I might be able to put up with that for maybe a week.  Then there would be a serious discussion.  And another.  And another until I told him I was LEAVING to find someone who wanted to be in a relationship with me.  I'm not kidding either.  DH & I get into periods where we are way too busy with the kids and not nearly enough with each other, but we both hate it and we let each other know it with affection, expressions of appreciation, and jokes about how great it's going to be when we're empty nesters.

Which brings me to another point.  What kind of example are you letting your H set for your kids about marriage?  My parents were big squabblers - DH used to call them The Bickersons, LOL - but they kissed good-bye every morning, spoke every day on the phone, and when they weren't arguing, they were quite romantic and had a busy life doing things together - they never disguised that they were thrilled at becoming empty nesters!  I had the security of knowing my parents loved each other, and it was a great model for me that you could disagree heatedly with your spouse, but it didn't mean that violence was going to break out or the marriage was going to end. 

OTOH your kids aren't getting much of an example when their parents never have anything to say to each other, never go out, and generally behave as though they don't even like each other. 

I agree you should get counseling.  You should also be prepared to leave the marriage if your husband won't agree to changing things.  I'm not saying you're 100% right and he's 100% wrong, but if he won't talk about it, NOTHING will change.  You'll just go on like this until the kids leave the house and then you'll be basically alone.  That doesn't sound like much of a future either.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Thu, 04-04-2013 - 12:36am

When people get so involved with their kids, and their jobs.....one day the kids will be gone, and you'll look at each other and wonder who the other one is!  But it takes two to tango!  Who says HE has to make arrangements for lunch or dinner?  Why don't YOU set it up, and inform him to be there.  As far as counselling is concerned, if he won't go, he won't go.  That doesn't mean YOU can't go, and maybe learn some new ways of dealing with him......and yourself. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002
Thu, 04-04-2013 - 1:20pm

There is a book called The Five Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman, it focuses on the different styles of communication, and how to learn how to communicate with your spouse effectively.  I personally found it to be a good resource in regards to learning how to communicate with my DH.

You know your DH is not a big talker, so it is important to figure out what form of communication he best responds to.  And then also help him learn how to best communicate with you.

Lunch was a disaster because you expected something out of your DH that he was not going to do.  I can understand the frustration because my DH is not a big talker either, and there are times where it is like pulling teeth to get details.  I finally accepted that I am not going to get much out of DH, conversation wise, because he is not a conversationalist.  He is pretty direct and to the point. 

When we go out, we tend to look at activities we can do together as opposed to just eating out.  We have gone on Segway tours, haunted house tours, MMA Fights, Rock Climbing, museums etc.  We do go out to dinner or lunch together as well, but usually as only part of our dates together.    DH is also more prone to talk more, when we are doing something active. 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Thu, 04-04-2013 - 5:43pm

I think it's more than that her DH isn't a big talker.  It's that he seems flat-out rude, which is unacceptable.  When he did take her out to lunch, he ignored her and checked his phone messages - what kind of loving spouse does that?  He comes home and doesn't speak.  Sorry, but even if he isn't a "big talker," he still needs to make some effort to show that she exists and that *she* needs to have some conversation even if he doesn't.

What your preference is when you're alone is one thing.  What is required in a reciprocal relationship is something else.  Not saying that your suggestions are off-base - I agree that if you do something together that you're both interested in then there's obviously more to talk about than if you do nothing - but it seems like OP's husband doesn't actually want to do anything with her.  And that *is* a problem.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002
Thu, 04-04-2013 - 10:25pm

My DH isn't a big talker either.  If we were to go out to lunch, as mentioned by the OP.  He would most likely be on his blackberry scrolling through emails.  Add to the fact that he travels 90% for his job, and he is a workaholic.  Oh and then we have 4 kids, ranging from Kindergarten to middle school.  Six days a week I am in carpool for school, after school activities and playdates. 

We both work.  We both have our own personal interests.

Add to that, he was in the Army and served overseas in Iraq.  Actually about 80% of his Active Duty Service was overseas away from us.  There was more than once that we had to reacquaint ourselves to eachother, and also the kids.

I offered up my input and what I found to be a valuable resource.  It is important to keep in mind that sometimes the changes that need to be made, need to be made within us first.  For every action there is a reaction.  I can't expect my DH to act a certain way, without making sure my actions reciprocate his reactions.

And Counseling is not always the answer, especially if one spouse is not keen on the idea.  What is wrong with offering up an alternative?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 04-05-2013 - 11:43am

You bring up some good points, Anna, especially by reminding me that there's a lot we don't know about the OP's relationship once upon a time.  If he never talked much, then it's unrealistic to expect him to get chatty now.  OTOH I'll bet when they were dating and before kids came along, they talked for more than 15 minutes a week, and at some point they must have had some mutual interests.

You're right that sometimes the changes need to happen in ourselves.  And it's often hard for people to change without the help of a third party, whether that's a trusted and nonjudgmental friend or a therapist.  That's why I agree that OP needs to get counseling for herself.  Sometimes our own expectations are out of whack. However, sometimes the other person really DOES need to change and sometimes the other person really IS wrong. An objective third party could help OP figure out where the lines lie.

After 30 years with DH, I can say that while *most* of the time when we disagree each of us is partly right and partly wrong, there are occasionally times when one of us is just plain wrong (it could be me as easily as him).  And of course there are some things that are just never going to change and you have to decide whether you can live with it or not.  I know I would find OP's situation unendurable but I would also wonder how much of a role I'd played in creating it.  We all have busy lives but if we don't keep a relationship with our husbands while raising kids, we'll end up married to strangers.  It sounds like that's what's happening here.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 04-05-2013 - 11:49am

Meant to say also, that there are such things as courtesy and good manners.  Checking one's phone constantly while with others *is* rude.  My teenagers know it and will call DH when he feels he just "has" to check something.  Whether they're with friends or family, they don't look at their phones when they're supposed to be interacting with the people they're with, and neither do their good friends.  I'm self-employed and I don't do it - and I have more of an excuse than anyone else in the family.  When you're with other people it's a matter of courtesy to make them feel that they're worthy of your attention.  Doesn't have to involve chatter, but it does involve focus.  Being "present" is the biggest "present" we give each other.  The fact that my 20yo & 18yos still prefer to be with their family than elsewhere says a lot about what that "present" means.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 10:06am

  Yes...I have.  My ex after 25 years of marriage "checked out" and for 7 years I experienced exactly what you just described.  I would try to get him to talk about what was going on with him and the only time he said anything was one Saturday mornng he told me he felt lonely and sad every day of his life.  Whatever.  I saw an unhappy, depressed man for 7 years.  What I found out AFTER the divorce was that he'd been having an affair all those years with one of his managers who he is now married to.  He did go to marriage counseling with me, but wouldn't talk there either.  The counselor told him he needed to take me somewhere once a year and give me more time.  He wouldn't do it.  It was VERY painful.  I loved the man, but, what I learned in the end was he had actually NEVER loved me.  He just hung in there for the sake of our 4 daughters, but once they started leaving home and I pushed for more time as a couple, he wanted none of it. 

I'm not sayiing any of this is what's going on in your marriage, but it sure brought back bad memories for me.  Fortunately, I am now married to a man who is the best communicator I've ever met and makes ME talk about things that are uncomfortable and likes nothing better than spending time with me.  :) 

I hope you can get your dh to open up.  I am now married to a man who doesn't believe in counseling either, so I understand your frustration.  It's like if you can't get them to talk and they won't go to counseling...THEN what??

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2013
Sun, 04-07-2013 - 7:09pm

Thanks for all your comments.  Unfortunately I think both people need to believe there is a problem.  My DH seems to avoid the whole problem.  I very rarely now say much because I am tired of carrying the whole conversation and quite frankly I don't have the energy.  DH has had a habit for years of avoiding issues instead of dealing with them.  Most weekends we just stay in.  He never really wants to go anywhere.  Last night we sat in the same room.  He watched an action movie which he knows I am not interested in and so I read a book.  I had been out in the day and he never even asked me what I did etc,    How can anyone have intimacy with someone who puts in no effort although he doesn't  get it.      I just don't get what's so difficult about talking to someone you have been married to for years especially when the person has told you that this is what they need.  I am beginning to think he doesn't talk on purpose just because he knows it something I want.  I know it sounds weird but maybe its a control thing. 

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