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I need help.

  1. Jul 6, 2010 #1


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    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an issue I’ve had for quite some time. Reflections/conversations with my wife about our relationship, and the results of a few personality tests, have convinced me that I need to seek help for my emotional constipation. She’s not pressed me to do anything and assures me that she is happy. However, I am sick and tired of not being able to connect with her on an emotional level, and I refuse to throw up my hands and say, “That’s just the way I am.” It would feel like a cop-out, and would not be very fair to her. I can tell that I’m currently inadequate in my ability to meet her needs in this area, so I’ve made an appointment with a counselor so that I can identify the root(s) of the issue(s).

    I am tired of only being able to offer solutions. Sometimes she probably just wants someone with whom she cry, get angry, feel silly, do things that don’t make sense, etc. She’s such an incredible woman, and I’ve wondered why she’s chosen to spend her life with someone so ill-equipped to connect with her in this way. I am actually getting emotional just thinking about it. I’ve apologized for my shortcomings before, and she tells me that I’ve come a long way since we first met – we dated for three years, were engaged for one, and have been married for almost two. I know that she’s being honest and sincere with how she feels, and she’s told me that she needs someone like me to help balance herself, but I just can’t help feeling like she’s being cheated.

    I truly believe that I can improve in this area. I just don’t understand why I have such a hard time circumventing/sacrificing logic and reason for romantic silliness, or even just plain illogical, unreasonable emotion. I can probably start by ditching my false belief that emotions are always illogical and unreasonable! I believe that a complete human being has the ability to function on all levels, not just a few – and she deserves no less from me.

    I don’t know why I’m posting this here. I’m definitely not a verbal processor, so this is quite unusual for me; I tend to retreat inward when faced with problems and issues. I’m also pretty slow to open up to people. PF just feels like a safe place to share something like this. Most of you have consistently demonstrated a non-judgmental perspective towards just about anything that is being discussed, which is something I’ve never really experienced before, and I have a high amount of respect and admiration for those of you who diligently display such an attitude.
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  3. Jul 6, 2010 #2
    Thats what girlfriends are for. I don't think most men are hard wired to feel the emotional feelings that females have. They're are reasons we evolved in different ways. She may not understand how or why, you as a man feel. Its all perfectly normal.

    That being said, some sensitivity training, to develop a sensitive awareness and understanding of oneself and of ones relationships with others, may be in order. These are a series of classes.
  4. Jul 6, 2010 #3


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    I really admire your willingness to explore and develop your emotional side. How do you plan to do it, with a counselor?
  5. Jul 6, 2010 #4


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    Some rhetorical questions:

    Why did you marry your wife? Why did she marry you?

    About what are you passionate? In what does one find joy/enjoyment?

    That is one role a husband is expected to play. It comes with being a best friend.

    One is fortunate. Did you both talk such matters when dating and while engaged.

    Emotions are logical and illogical and sometimes both simultaneously - it's part of being human.

    Keep talking/communicating with each other.
  6. Jul 6, 2010 #5


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    Dembadon, you do not need to change, and she should not expect you to. That is the biggest recipe for disaster in a relationship. I have seen so many people marrying someone knowing how they are and thinking, ok, after we're married they will change. NO.

    You are who you are and she marrried you knowing who you are and now to be upset that you are still the same person she married is SO WRONG.

    I would suggest that your wife be the one to seek therapy to try to understand why she is upset because you are the same person she married. There is nothing wrong with you and unless you never showed her this side of your personality (and from your post it sounds like you've always been the same) you will end up miserable.

    Honestly, if you are willing to see a counselor, insist that she one also. She needs to understand that she can't expect people to just change based on her needs and she needs to show sensitivity and understanding that some people show love and feelings in different ways.


    edit: If she is saying it's ok, yet you are sensing there is an issue, it may be beneficial if you saw a counselor together. This may be something that they will need to get both of you discussing together.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  7. Jul 6, 2010 #6
    Pssst, Evo.


    I'm pretty sure that this terrific fellow's wife isn't the one driving this feeling that Dembadon is experiencing. It appears that it's something that's coming up from his own gut.

    Sorry to talk about you behind your back in front of your face, Dembadon. :smile: Here's a thing, though, to maybe nosh on. You said that feels like you help her balance herself. That sounds like a really good thing.

    Yes, sometimes (frequently with a lot of women I know, including me) women just need an ear. And yes, most times guys jump in with a solution rather than just nodding and agreeing that her boss is a total jerk. Completely. Total. Has no business being a jerk. The jerk. Where was I?

    Right. And guys are always trying to fix things. Does it help to hear you aren't alone in that one? That it's a really common response in guys when women go off on a verbal tear? I wouldn't beat myself up too much on that one if I were you, as long as you aren't stopping her from being her or letting off steam when she needs to. That's just her being her. And if you're comfortable with that, she seems -- you've told us -- comfortable with you being you.

    For this particular situation, this is an arrangement that I've worked out with a male friend of mine. (He's a science-type too.) I rant, he nods. When I run out of steam, he asks if it's okay to offer suggestions because he really, really, really, really wants to help fix it. It's an impulse that demonstrates you care, actually. And yes, frequently it balances ranting or being angry. Just remember to listen first. Be an attentive listener. Be her best cheering section and then offer what you've got. Talk to your wife first about this idea and see how she feels about it, what she thinks of it. It worked for me and my friend.

    If your wife wants to be silly, as long as you don't rain on her parade or make her feel bad or self-conscious about herself for being silly, then I don't see the problem. You can bask in it, relish it, appreciate it, and love her for the fact that she's endearingly different from you. She seems endeared with you for similar reasons.

    The 'not immediately offering advice/trying to fix things' impulse is definitely something you can get a grip on. It's not tough, and there is a time when it helps. You just need to establish when that time might be between you. Because that's what good friends and people who love each other do for each other. They listen and then they offer ideas after asking if it's time for ideas. It's even like that when I talk to my female friends. I let them rant and vent and I commiserate, and then I say I have suggestions if they'd like to hear them. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no. I can deal with either answer.

    As for the rest of it, Dembadon, how can I suggest to you that maybe you be a little easier on yourself and relax a bit? You sound like a terrific fellow who cares very much about his wife. And it doesn't sound like your wife takes issue with who you fundamentally are. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy her. Enjoy yourself with her. Unless you're squashing who she is there doesn't seem to be much issue save for what you're, for some reason, putting pressure on yourself about.

    This ride is short. There are loads and loads of crappy things that happen that make you feel horrible. There's no need to feel as if you're not who you should be for someone, especially when they aren't taking issue with it. From what you've written here, you're an insightful, caring husband. That's huge. Give yourself a break and a bit of credit for that. Maybe think about the suggestion I gave you about the "offering to fix things" and maybe work it to fit your own situation, because it's a common point of misunderstanding and contention between men and women. But the rest of it? You sound as if you're in pretty good shape, Dembadon.
  8. Jul 7, 2010 #7


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    Dembadon, I am in total agreement with Georgina. I have also had to learn that sometimes my wife just needs to vent. Even if the solution is obvious, I have to let her get it out of her system and then ask if she wants any options for solving the problem. If this is her fifth time, I give her the options anyway and if it's the tenth time, I vent. :rolleyes:

    We all run to our comfort zones at times of stress. Men react by trying to solve a problem. Women do something else entirely - I haven't figured out what and I doubt if any man ever will. However, it's clear that you are where she runs to. Your wife looks to you as her stable, island of logic where she can find safety and comfort. She wants to know that that island will withstand the big storms in life. It's great to have a nice welcoming (emotional) beach but she needs the rock also. She may feel that the beach is just the right size so be careful about bringing in too much earth moving equipment.
  9. Jul 7, 2010 #8


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    I'm guessing astronuc is not an INTJ.
  10. Jul 7, 2010 #9
    She married you for a reason, and that reason is because you are the rock in the sea of emotion. Or something like that, but she married you because you are you, and you don't need to change who you are, because then she wouldn't be with the person she married who was you originally.
  11. Jul 7, 2010 #10


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    Emotions are most often illogical, but not unreasonable. I've kind of come to think it's unrealistic not to accept that and agree that a person would be better off being able to function all levels, not just a few.

    Being unable to function on all levels means you're being cheated, not her.

    But feeling like you're doing it for her probably provides some extra motivation, though.
  12. Jul 7, 2010 #11


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    Great post Georgina!
  13. Jul 7, 2010 #12


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    You all are so great. Thank you so much for the replies. I've much to chew on! :wink: I'm itching to respond to all of you, but it's a busy morning; maybe I'll take a long lunch.
  14. Jul 7, 2010 #13


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    Have you read Men Are From Mars...? It helped me a great deal. There's also therapy (couples or individual), the first hour (consultation) is usually free.
  15. Jul 7, 2010 #14


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    My variation on this is simply to ask "So what do you want 'from me / me to do'. I'll offer solutions if solicited. :biggrin:

    With respect to change, we all change. It's inevitable with time and experience. On the other hand, my core values and principles are essentially the same as when I met my wife 30 years ago.

    Part of the change comes with learning to work with each other and be mutually supportive. My wife and I have similarities and differences. There are activities, like gardening and going places, that we share. And we have activities and personal interests we do separately. We have mutual friends, and we have friends we don't share. We read together in bed, but I read nonfiction and my wife prefers fiction.

    Marriage is supposed to be a lifetime partnership, and part of that is figuring out how to make it work. One important factor is communication. Keep the lines of communication open - even when it could be painful or stressful.

    Hopefully the good times far outweigh and make up for the trials and tribulations.
  16. Jul 7, 2010 #15


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    She’s mentioned this before, and I must say that I greatly appreciate the girlfriends with whom she is closest. It’s reassuring to know that I have help in making sure my wife is happy. :smile:
    Counseling is the first thing that came to mind. The issue seems so overpowering, and since it has been present in my life for as long as I can remember, I’m assuming that it originated early in childhood. I spent a lot of time alone as a child, probably due to the dysfunctional environment in which I was raised. Books, model airplanes/cars, and the forest, kept me out of harms way.

    I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for your views on what it means to be a husband, Astronuc. I can tell you take your role very seriously, as do I. :approve:

    I would say that communication has always been one area in which we’ve excelled, to a certain extent. We each have mutual respect for the other’s opinion(s), and we see each other as peers. We frequently have conversations about where one another are at mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. However, it is often during these conversations when I find that I have a hard time communicating my emotions. I often tend to “think my way out of feeling.” This has caused misunderstandings and frustration on quite a few occasions.

    I feel that improving my ability to connect with her emotionally will greatly improve our communication.

    That is probably a good idea. I figured that since I was the one having difficulty, that I should be the one in counseling sessions, but she said that if she has any part to play, then she wants to be there so that it can be identified and addressed. The counselor also strongly advised that she be present for at least the first meeting.

    No need to apologize. :smile:

    She’s told me many times that she absolutely loves my ability to listen without judging her for what she’s saying. I think what bugs me is that I seem to be only able to come up with a solution, rather than emotionally reciprocate in an equally productive way. You are absolutely correct that most often she needs to verbally process her day/event, and I encourage her to do so, I just hope to someday be more useful in providing emotional support.

    This is great! I listen very well, but I haven’t considered asking before providing a solution before or even asking to find out if she even wants to hear one. :smile:

    There have been quite a few times when I’ve unintentionally caused her to feel self-conscious/embarrassed about something. It is usually due to me not understanding her need to feel/behave a certain way. When she lets me know, I feel completely destroyed for having hurt her feelings.

    That said, I definitely admire her uniqueness; it is one of the reasons I am so attracted to her. And let’s face it, if I were to have a get-together at our house without her, it would probably be a pretty boring party. :rofl: I’m not even remotely close to being as exciting and entertaining as is she.

    I really appreciate your kind words, Georgina. Thank you for the wisdom and encouragement! :smile:

    I sometimes forget how well we complement each other. Thank you for illuminating this facet of our relationship. :smile:

    An excellent point you’ve made, BobG. I’ll say we’re both being cheated then. :biggrin:

    I’ve heard of the title, but have never read the book. I’ll definitely check it out! Thanks, EnumaElish. :smile:
  17. Jul 8, 2010 #16
    Thanks, Evo, and Astronuc. Valued praise coming from each of you. :smile:

    Dembadon, you've mentioned the same idea a few times here, so I'm sensing a theme. You talk about wanting to connect emotionally and/or provide emotional support. I'm curious to know what those ideas mean to you. I realise that's a really personal thing to ask you, so of course you don't have to answer me out loud. Maybe just consider it in your own mind.

    Because it seems to me that you're under the impression that you're somehow missing something and you're defining that something in a really specific way. What you're saying, to me, sounds like you're already doing what you wish you could do or think you aren't doing. That's what's making me wonder about a definition issue.

    You see, for me, if I feel that my partner/spouse is truly listening to me, and really "gets" what I'm saying, it means that they really "get" who I am, and I feel all kinds of emotional connection with that person and support from them. It sounds as if you've got that situation going on with your wife. Are you expecting or anticipating some sort of sensation that you're not experiencing?

    You know, Dembadon, for an awful lot of people, having someone who truly cares about their happiness, truly enjoys them as a person, and listens to what they have to say, means that they've hit the emotional connection and support jackpot. From what you're saying, you give your wife all of that.

    What then, if I may ask, do you sense is missing? As I suggested, maybe it's a definition issue. And, as I said, you don't have to answer out loud. It's what I'm hearing from you, and I think it may be important. :smile:
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