QUESTION: My husband didn’t blink an eye when I told him to move into the spare room. But he didn’t move before vividly describing more things about me that anger him. I wish he would have brought this to my attention years ago (literally). I don’t understand why he never said anything about it before, now he says it’s too late, he can’t move on from it. Is it too late to save my marriage?
ANSWER: Obviously, neither I or anyone else can tell you what happened in your past. Every couple’s past is unique to some degree. On the other hand, there are often similarities. For example, most people don’t really “hear” the complaints their spouses make about their behavior. We are more likely to think that they’re just griping about something relatively insignificant, or that what we do is not any worse than what they do.
You Must Be Happy Because…
Sometimes I insert into my speeches about marriage a routine about one spouse telling the other that s/he is not happy. The other spouse thinks, or even says, “Yes, you are happy! I don’t do bad things, so you must be happy.” I call it the “you must be happy because I don’t see anything major about which you should be unhappy” syndrome. It seems I witness it more in men than women, but, as you know from your situation, it goes both ways.
There’s another dimension of it as well. It’s the “you just think you need more, but you really don’t” syndrome. That happens when one spouse wants more from the other; things such as more time together, more conversations, more cuddling, more sex, etc. Typically the spouse receiving the request continues to focus on the fact that s/he isn’t doing any major thing that hurts the marriage. Rather than realizing how important it is to the other, they more likely remind them of how good they have it. “I don’t drink, don’t cuss, don’t chew, and don’t hang out with people who do!” In short, they tell the other that because no major bad things are happening – no adultery, no addictions, whatever – then the other person should be happy. When I hear that I remind them, it’s important that you not do things that destroy a relationship, so good for you. HOWEVER, you cannot build a relationship on things you DON’T do. Being unfaithful destroys a marriage. Be faithful doesn’t destroy the marriage, but it isn’t enough to make the marriage a good one. There is much more involved in a relationship than not doing bad things. Only the things you DO actually build the relationship.
Therefore, not knowing your specific situation, I cannot advise you as to whether you may not have been giving him the things he needed, or whether you were doing things that hurt him, or both.
You Likely Didn’t Hear
Whatever the case, it is likely that he tried to tell you, but either he didn’t make his point strongly enough or you, for whatever reason, didn’t hear what he was really saying or how important it was to him.
Welcome to the real world. To some degree that happens with every couple.
Unfortunately, for some the resentment builds over time and finally chokes off nearly all positive emotions toward the other spouse. When finally a person makes the decision to leave, s/he quite often has exacerbated legitimate complaints into powerful criticisms. Everything gets magnified several times over.
It sounds as if this may have happened with your husband.
That led you to ask, “Is it too late to save my marriage?”
No. Until one of you is married to someone else, or has left this life, there is a chance of reconciliation.
Do This For You
I suggest you listen to his complaints, evaluate to determine what core issues you could improve, and try not to allow his vitriol to cause you to overreact toward him or toward yourself. Look carefully at yourself and grow/change where you need to. Ask friends who are honest to help you learn how to continually become a better person. (Avoid friends who tell you that you’re perfect and that your husband is a jerk; rather than looking at reality they’re directing their anger toward him because he hurt you.) Don’t allow yourself to become your own worst critic by trying to think everything to the point of driving you batty. Admit what you’ve done or said that wasn’t good, and learn to live life better. That’s all any of us can do.
Learn from the past. Don’t live in it.
Grow and improve for you own sake. If anything can lead to a repair of your marriage, it starts with this. It may well over time bring him back. I pray it does.
If he does, he, too, will have to examine his own weaknesses and learn to grow. I have no doubt that he is flawed. We all are. Those of us who admit it can do something about it and become stronger, better, happier people. Those who do not think they’re flawed are in for a rough life; though they will always blame others for everything.
If for some reason your growing doesn’t lead to reconciliation with your husband, it’s still the best thing you can do for yourself and your future
Please check out our free articles, eBooks, and podcasts on www.MarriageHelper.com. If you and your husband come to the point of even considering the possibility of reconciliation, please call us at 615-472-1161.
My husband and I were high school sweethearts. His senior year, he broke up and dated someone else, eventually marrying her (his mom did not want him to marry me), and they were divorced in less than a year and he and I got back together and married. He told me he had lost me once, he didn’t want to do it again. We have been married 23 years with 4 beautiful, Godly children (19, 16, 11, 8). Our family is considered a pillar in the community and many people respect us. God has given us much favor and blessing. Last year, my husband suddenly started looking at porn (pretty sure he has dabbled over the years), then he said he found a site that had me on it (he had blurred pictures that he says someone emailed to him saying they were his wife – NOT, but he wouldn’t show me or anyone else, the email), and he has done some crazy, accussing, very-out-of-his-character, things lately. He left for a week but came back. Then we had a fight and he left April 29th and is still gone. He keeps saying I have been pushing sexual pics and videos of me over the Internet. He has all this, what he calls, “evidence”, from bank statements and FB, all of which are explainable and nothing that he imagines. Things like when I bought pictures for my daughter he says that was a cover up for me having sex pics of myself. Or when my daughter and son went to prom and parked in the hotel garage that the prom was at, that it was really me meeting someone. He says that I have had secret Dr. appts. probably because I was being checked for STDs but no eveidence of such. I’m like…What??? I have nursed 4 babies, homeschooled them, been involved in our community, ran for federal office and almost won…Why? When, would I do these things he is saying? He is convinced I am some deranged computer hacker covering up online porn and dating sites I am involved in. But…I have been fixing his lunch, massaging his back, making love and being with him all these years. I have not even done one thing he accusses me of. We have had a very good marriage, or so I thought. He says that we have, too, but then he says he can’t remember the kids being born. ??? Some of his accusations are so absurd that his friends are distancing themselves from him (he goes through friends like water). It is nuts, literally, nuts. I don’t say that to him, but I have thought it. I try to be encouraging, reassuring, positive…live out 1 Corinthians 13, but he is always accussing me and I catch him in lies frequently. Things he doesn’t have to lie about. He has, for 23 years, had his checks direct deposited (he makes a very good income), but he pulled his checks and now gives me $X amount each week to pay ALL the bills and provide for the kids. We sold our beautiful 3,000 square foot home on 12 acres and started a business with the intention of building again, 2 months later he went off the deep end. This is so crazy I am having a hard time believing I am living it. Now he bought a motorcycle and lied and said that a friend loaned it to him. He told us he was living in his car at truckstops but he lied and my oldest son found out he was living with a buddy. He says he has a 2nd job but he doesn’t. On top of all this, I am a pastor and family counselor. I help people through these situations, I never thought it would come to my doorstep. We are in counseling and the counselor has asked him to provide his “evidence” and what he brought, I explained. So she told him to try and prove that I hadn’t done what he said I had, and he said he would, but now he is dodging and says that counseling isn’t working and we just need to end the nightmare and divorce. I dont want a divorce. I love him, but I don’t want to live like this either. I can empathize with some of the couples I have counseled over the years, now. He has no reason to divorce. His reasons are things he perceives to be what they are not. I can explain them but even if I prove what he says is inaccurate, he won’t believe me, even if someone else is telling him what I say is true. He said he will never admit that what he thinks is wrong and apologize. It is almost as if he is disappointed that I have been a good and faithful wife. Now he says that Christians are all hypocrites and Christianity is a cover up for doing all this porn and affair stuff. The only sane thing I can think of is that he is in another relationship (hiding it), and he wants me to be the bad person so he can justify what he is doing, but he swears he has never touched another woman and doesn’t want anything to do with any woman, ever! He is adamant that he has been faithful because he really does love me, he just can’t get past what he believes is true (which is really all lies). We have had a few weekends together and when he and I go for a ride or out to dinner, it is so enjoyable and we hold hands and he is very affectionate. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I need some help to sort this out. A little back history: His mom is an atheist and his parents had porn in their home when we were teens. She didn’t want him and would have aborted were it not for his dad. She went off the deep end at the same age, but she never followed through with leaving. His parents are still married and have changed over the years, not Christians but I think moving that way, slowly. David is convinced his mother had multiple affairs and ruined his dad’s life. His dad says that’s not true. He says no woman (except my mom – he is very close to my mom), is trustworthy. We have rodeoed, farmed, traveled together for all these years. I thought we were getting ready to have the best years and now this! Any insight?