Q We’ve been married for two years and I want to have a baby. We can’t seem to talk or connect on any deep level and I feel lonely with him. In many ways my husband is a good man and I do love him, as much as he will ‘allow’ me to. I know I’m not a needy person but I do need more from him than he seems capable of giving. I didn’t really notice the problem until we got married – perhaps because we didn’t live together, and I’m very outgoing and seemed to make up for his ‘reserved’ nature. I’m now thinking of ending the marriage and looking for someone else who I can have a deeper connection with and to be the father of my children. I dread to think what sort of dad my husband would be… aloof, cold, unemotional. I couldn’t handle that. Shall I leave him and look for someone else?
A It’s interesting that his character and personality don’t appear to have changed since the early days… did you think/hope/expect that they would?
If so, I can imagine how disappointed you must be… but you did bring that upon yourself (as many of us do) by not seeing what’s there, and instead seeing the ‘potential’ for what could be there (note: magic wand may be required!).
He is who he is, and I can understand how he would be attracted to someone like you, who had the opposite characteristics to himself.
It’s said that we are often motivated to seek relationships of ‘complementarity’ (someone having the qualities we lack), but this can later become an obstacle to the relationship’s growth.
We can all make changes in ourselves though – if we are aware and motivated enough to put a bit of effort in and not let our fear, shame or ego get in the way of that.
Does he see there’s a real problem and that you are walking towards the door and out of the marriage?
Does he understand his part in it?
Does he want to revive your marriage and rebuild it before you have children together?
If there’s a ‘no’ in there you might be wasting more time flogging a dead horse.
On the other hand if he can see how his internal process (perceptions, thoughts, feelings, communication style, behaviour) is putting a block on your relationship developing to a deeper level, then he may be motivated to get some help. His personality is ‘reserved’ but he can make adjustments if he wants to.
The first step towards change is self-awareness and realising what we’re doing – and the impact this has on other people.
I guess you’ve been trying hard to make him aware of that, but this can be counter-productive when a man/woman feels judged and criticised and seen as ‘faulty’ by their partner (or anyone else for that matter).
I’d suggest psychotherapy and couples counselling. I do have to say that it’s a real needle in a haystack trying to find the right sort of therapeutic help that will go deep enough to the root cause of his difficulties and help him to actually change.
If that doesn’t appeal to him (or if you’ve already tried it without success) then there is an alternative I can suggest (at the risk of trumpet blowing)…self-help!
I have an online e-course available for less than the cost of one therapy session (or a night out!) called ‘How To Sort Out Your Relationship – Without Couples Counselling!’
It’s available from my website and you could work through it together in the privacy and comfort of your own home.
If nothing else it will highlight for you both what the real problems are between you, and which of those can be fixed..
(please also read my previous blog post – about lack of emotional connection – which might resonate with you too.)
It may be that he has some unhealed and unresolved childhood stuff that is getting in the way of him being more open and emotionally ‘available’ to you.
If so my first e-course might be a better starting point for him… to go back and understand his past and the effects its had upon him, and to make the changes – one step at a time – in the present day so that he/you can have a better future.
(It’s called ‘3 Steps To Sort Yourself Out – Without Therapy!’ and again he can buy and download it directly from my website)
If you’re anything like me you’ll need to get to the bottom of the problem, fix your part of it, and then decide whether to keep working at it, or to throw the towel in if the other person isn’t willing to fix their part in it.
Maybe your own past is kicking in here somewhere too?
The fixer? The over-compensator? The ‘not connected with’? The trying but not succeeding at creating a deeper relationship’? It’s always worth a bit of self-reflection and awareness.
I hope it will all become clearer to you which is then the best option for you and your future babies.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)