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My marriage is stalled.

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I’ve been married for nearly 29 years. My husband is a hard worker, but not a great communicator. I’m a great communicator, but a bit too vocal and forceful for his tastes. He’s always shown a great disdain for my feelings and opinions, though we’ve managed to stay together probably out of fear of starting over and sheer stubborness more than anything else. There is love here, but expression of it has become almost impossible because we both are always angry. Over the years, we’ve managed many times to find ways to get through things with humor and by focusing on our three children (all adults now, though one is severely developmentally delayed). More and more, I am less able to deal with the loneliness, lack of affection and social interaction between us. There are many silent days, generally initiated by me because I’m so angry that he blithely goes on with his day after saying or doing something that hurts me. He’s stated he wants to get away from me, that he doesn’t like me anymore. During a recent argument, I forcefully pressed him to talk to me about what he feels, something he never does.I found out that he’s been punishing me for the last 20 years over something he THOUGHT I’d done regarding our retarded child and over something I said once about not wanting to work a traditional job. He never challenged me, questioned me, or discussed these feelings with me until I pushed him to do so recently. We both hold a lot of resentments about many issues over the last 28 years. There’s never been any special acknowledgment or celebration of my birthday or Mother’s Day (I’m not his mother); there are no gifts for Valentine’s Day or Christmas. Eventually, I stopped trying to celebrate these types of days or buy him things out of the blue because it made me feel so foolish and angry to give to him but never receive anything in return. I don’t cook; he says I don’t feed him. I cook; he has some complaint or suggestion about how I should have done it. I make a big commission, “That’s great. But what about the next two weeks? Cleaning the house is strictly my purview, and now I’m having to deal with “man stuff” like car maintenance/repairs, etc. I need some direction on how to deal with all my fears and get past this stalled marriage. If there’s still time for some happiness in my life, I need to know how to go about finding it.

My marriage is stalled.

Answered by on -

A.

Although you have managed to raise your children together and meet the multiple challenges of raising a cognitively disabled child, you two haven’t had much of a marriage for years. He held a grudge for 20 years?!! You didn’t push him about why until recently?!! What a sad, sad story. And what a waste. The two of you were apparently so scared of conflict that you not only avoided the real fight but avoided yourselves out of a satisfying and loving marriage. Well – better late than never. You have a lot of history and a big family between you. It’s certainly worth seeing if you can make your senior years into something more gratifying. One thing we know for sure is that you two are really, really stubborn folks. Turn that stubborness toward stubbornly trying to fix this and you have a chance of doing exactly that. Get yourselves a good therapist and work on it.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My marriage is stalled.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My marriage is stalled.. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/04/21/my-marriage-is-stalled/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.