Mental Health Support
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Expecting too much from marriage?

I'm having a hard time determining whether I'm in an objectively bad situation or whether my expectations are too high.

I posted in the past regarding my husband who I married 10 months after first meeting because of a pregnancy. He's in law enforcement so he's not the most sensitive man in the world and he has trouble admitting fault or weakness. He also can't really "relax" or let his guard down or be vulnerable around me. He's amazing - up to a point until his frustration kicks in - with our toddler son and I've told him I wish he could be as loving toward me as he is to our son. He was 36 when we met and I've been the longest relationship he had ever had. That is, he had never had a serious relationship until me, I think because he is emotionally incapable.

As a woman who has had lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, I haven't always been in the right "frame of mind" when choosing romantic partners. Therefore, I tended to date undesirable men when my self esteem took hits from my mental health issues. This, combined with natural ability to form connections with really anyone, has led to prolonged relationships with people I shall term "losers."

My husband is gainfully employed, a big help with domestic tasks around the house, and spends tons of time with the kid. On paper, he is not a "loser." He also tries to meet my emotional needs, but his general monotone indicates to me anything he says is just obligatory and "going through the motions" with no real care or concern for my feelings or well being.

We also don't have much in common. I enjoy getting tipsy and silly on occasion, and he hates drinking (I think because his guard could - gasp! - come down). I thrive on interacting with people, and he'd be perfectly thrilled with living in the woods with not a soul around him. He's not only an introvert, but a little socially awkward (I think) around people. I am the polar opposite and I feel like he's dragging me down.

I don't want to give up just yet because of the baby. I also know my tendency is to think the "grass in greener." However, I am also painfully aware of my tendency to put up with a lot of crap for way too long. So I don't know which is happening, maybe a bit of both?

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Hugs to you all. Thank you for reading.

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Reading your post it almost seems like your in a marriage of convenience.Your post mentions love. .it's obvious he loves his son..does he loves you?. you him? what's stopping you from talking to him about it? On paper like you say you have financial security ..but your trade off is feeling sad and lonley.Try telling him how you really feel and see where you stand with that before making any decisions. Do you have any female friends you can talk it through with. that will help. it may take a few tries if he is introverted as you say..

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Thanks, oil70. I'm not sure he is capable of truly loving a significant other, i.e. me, due to major personality issues that prevent him from loving anyone other than his child who he sees as an extension of himself. He says he does, but I'm pretty sure he doesnt really understand what that means, and he is unable to articulate what loving me means. He also refuses to go to individual therapy, mainting there is nothing wrong with him.

As far as me loving him, I certainly don't have those intense "in love" feelings I've had for significant others of the past who actually still haunt my dreams. But aren't those types of feelings fleeting anyway? We've talked about all of this, in and out of formal therapy, but he just gets defensive and shuts down. As far as staying for financial security, that's not it all all, money isn't a make or break for us, we are both financially secure on our own. Aren't all marriages out of convenience to some extent, even if the don't start out that way?

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Ever heard of that old adage...anybody can tell you they love you...but it’s the actions that show it......

If neither of you could speak, what does your husbands actions show you?

It sounds as if he has a very very strong sense of obligation, duty? Maybe he was never allowed to “ let loose” and doesn’t know how to? Maybe doing that attracted some unpleasant reactions when he was younger?

Why does he hate drinking? That could be very telling.

I don’t think people are emotionally incapable. All babies use their emotions to get what they need to survive. Until they are taught not to use them.

For example, neglected babies do not tend to cry. Because it elicits no response.

He sounds as if he is keeping his emotions in huge control and I would be very curious as to why? What is his experience when being emotional?

I say this very carefully and respectively...

Who is putting up with crap here?

We are all 100% responsible for our relationships. In your case, what could you do to meet your husbands needs? You may find That in taking the time to discover and meeting his needs will in turn meet your own.

The grass always appears greener, especially with no effort.

Those with the best lawns spend a lot of time nurturing it.

Take care.

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Thanks, Foof, that's really insightful.

You're right, I think he definitely has a strong sense of duty. He did the "right" thing by marrying me after I became pregnant and he always makes sure to take care of household tasks and other responsibilities. I'm not sure if his sense of obligation is what attracted him to a career in law enforcement or he learned it in law enforcement training, but I'm not sure getting to the bottom of that is even helpful.

You asked how he would show his love if he didn't speak. Have you ever read the "The Five Love Languages" book? His "love language" is definitely "acts of service" and he shows his love by cleaning the kitchen and going to the grocery store (two things I hate doing). I try to match his love language by doing tasks he isn't so fond of. I've explained to him my "love languages" are affirmation and physical touch, but he struggles with giving me those because it's not what he needs.

He says he hates drinking because it doesn't agree with him and it upsets his stomach. I think it's more that he doesn't want to, or can't for job purposes, let his guard down. I think in his line of work being emotional is seen as a huge weakness and may even cost him promotions, etc. So he refuses to let even a little emotion into even his personal life. These are all just theories, of course, because he either lacks insight into any of this or he chooses not to discuss it with me (I've tried).

Can you elaborate when you asked who is putting up with crap? Please don't worry about offending me, you won't. I would love to hear more about this.

I've struggled in my relationships for a long time, and - to reiterate - don't want to throw away would could be a perfectly acceptable marriage because I'm being unreasonable. On the other hand, because of self esteem issues, i don't always know what is appropriate and respectful behavior in relationships or lack therof.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond.

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Maybe he didnt just do the right thing?

Maybe he did want to marry you for you? The right thing doesn’t really apply these days and I think you are making a lot of assumptions about his reasons.

I think you both probably have self esteem issues. His way of dealing with it is following a very strict codes

You talk about what you need, which is understandable, but how does he feel about being touched and having affirmations of love?

He clearly finds it really difficult to express himself emotionally...like the large majority of men...but it is more rigid with him..or appears to be from your words.

If you want things to change, you have to change yourself and not him. Do to him what you want him to do to you.

Stop speculating about what you are lacking and how you want him to change. Look at what you do have and practice gratitude for the gifts he has already given you. What can you do for him? What is he missing? What makes him glow? Someone who controls their feelings to that extent is probably very emotional below the surface and that may frighten him.

Express and give that love, make him feel valued. Try not to have expectations on how he should behave to you according to some romantic ideal. Consider that he may feel he is failing you because you are clearly unhappy. I would guess he needs to feel he is a good provider, husband and father. Share in the pleasure of your growing child. You are very lucky to have a man that takes such pleasure in his own child. Use that as a shared passion to become close.

You can change the narrative here if you stop sitting on your hands wishing someone would climb up your hair and give you a happy ending.

That’s your responsibility xxx

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It sounds and I say this with respect, cold. Reversing the roles like Foof suggested. .if he asked you..could you love him more? You want him to change..could you? From the outside looking in maybe that's what it's going to take to stay together. From the relationships I've had..all I really wanted after those mad love feelings fade is a friend.Someone that is for me..loyalty ..like you say the grass is always greener. What you want might be right under your nose.

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I could definitely love him more. I resent a lot about him, his weight and stubborn refusal to even lose ten pounds (he's tall, but could stand to lose at least 30 pounds for optimal health) and I do probably "nag" him a lot about that. But, in my defense, I'm trying to teach him how to eat well so that our son doesn't have issues. I also resent his mother because she's this "free spirit" who everyone thinks is so great, but she just let my husband get away with anything when he was younger and still does. She doesn't really have a backbone. She never taught him or his brother to eat right or take care of themselves (he is very overweight and used to be obese and his brother is very obese). I also feel like he doesn't really "have my back" and doesn't want to create a family unit with me, but remains fiercely loyal to his mother.

We never had the "mad love" feelings. In fact, soon after meeting, I ended the relationship because he was not very nice to me (He used to even, proudly, admit he was a "jerk," although he claims fatherhood has changed that). But because I had trouble being alone, well, we reconnected and then I got pregnant.

What do you say sounds cold? Me or him?

Thank you for your insight.

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Ok...so if you were overweight maybe due to pregnancy you and your man was putting pressure in you to lose weight?

How would that feel?

And what is that really about? What is it about the weight that bothers you? I don’t buy it’s about healthy eating...that’s your get out clause. What is it? And be absolutely honest because I think you will find it is about your values?

And what is it really that irritates you about his mother? What is it she is bringing out in you?

Considering his demeanour, he sounds exactly the opposite to someone who was allowed to get away with stuff as a child?

Or maybe his rigidity is a response to a mother who apparently didn’t take responsibility and he had to be the parent?

That would explain his “ loyalty to her...he has always looked after her....the self reliant child.

There are some very high expectations of a relationship of this kind. And expectations only lead to disappointment.

Maybe you are comparing the expectations to the reality and missing the abundance you actually have.

Are your expectations fair? On anybody? Could any man live up to them?

They are human, just like us after all xxxxxxxx

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You have all been more helpful than years of therapy. Thank you so much.

I do make a lot of assumptions and have unreasonably high expectations, of myself send others. I am a "perfectionist" in many regards. Appearances are everything. I learned this from my mom. I think that's why I on him so much about his weight. It embarrasses me and is unattractive to me. Also, to answer your question, yes, if I were overweight, I'd want him to encourage me and motivate me to lose it and be at my best. But I'm always seeking self improvement and he's not. He says he's happy with the way he is.

No man has really ever lived up to my expectations - expect for one who I was madly in love with and who absolutely shouldn't have passed muster given he wasn't very nice to me.

As far as his mother, she and I are a actually a lot alike. I'm resentful that she got to be a free spirit and travel and not finish school and never work, but it all worked out because she married rich. And now she's divorced living it up with all his money. That could've been me if I wasn't a responsible person who never wanted to rely on anyone else for money.

So it sounds like, to sum it all up, you think my expectations are too high and my situation isn't all that bad?

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There are a lot of really rotten apples out there! Violent..abusive. .cheats. .is he kind to you and your child? Overweight doesn't do emotions that well..sounds like the positives outweigh the negatives. It will filter in whether you want to be together or not.Take it easy on yourself. .give and see what happens. I wish you and your family all the best 😊

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It sounds like you are settling to be honest. I did that for many years before getting out of an unfulfilling marriage with an amazing man. Getting out was beyond rough but I don’t regret it.

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Your situation sounds pretty idyllic but your expectations are always going to let you down because that’s what you know and are comfortable with.

Really examine those feelings to do with looks....the embarrassment and lack of attraction....what is the fear? Were you only valued for your looks..or did you learn that you had to look good to be loved and noticed?

I picked up that you envied his Mum...her freedom. Going back to looks, I feel that you accept everything at face value...the Facebook phenomena..everyone’s has such a happy clappy life.

Well no one is going to post ugly pictures, or posts about screaming rows are they. Everyone buys into the lie that we all live in a perfect world.

If his mum had struggles, you wouldn’t know, you just see what she has and what you think she did and make a judgement....and that judgement damages your well-being.

So...

If your husband looked like Channing Tatum (yum), would you be happy?

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I mean...yes, if he looked like Channing Tatum (yum is right) I'd be a hell of a lot more satisfied :) Kidding. Point taken.

How do you respond to those who think I'm "settling"?

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My feeling is that you have a preconceived idea of what this was going to look and feel like and it’s not matching a Persil advert.

But nobody’s life looks like that. Thank god. It’s sterile....pun intended 🤣

This is your lesson, it’s your choice to learn it.

If you felt you were settling, what would you improve in a new relationship and why...bearing in mind you have a child between you so he will be in your life now for decades.

And who’s to say you will achieve your version of happiness when it’s based on a cardboard cutout ideal of a partner? Whoever you are with is a person, human, with feelings and needs just like you and that will never slot into your vision of domestic bliss.

Be careful what you wish for...

A. Because you might be unlucky enough to get it

B. And if it is what you want, you still won’t be satisfied,..the answer to this is within you.

I feel that your husband is picking up on your dissatisfaction and is having his own difficulties with not feeling good enough..could your non verbal behaviour be CAUSING him to react in the way you describe?

Because it’s very self protective....?

This may or not help..

Imagine him as a small boy...the same age as your child..manifesting that behaviour....?

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