How funny... I actually knew that I was going to go out the day before, but avoided mentioning it because I knew how upset he'd get and didn't want him stewing for 24+ hours. I have learned the art (or perhaps not learned it as well as I'd like to think...!) of timing potentially volatile discussions juuuussst right. Often, this leads to putting them off for far longer than is practical, either because a)he's already in a bad mood b) he's in a good mood, we're spending time together and I don't want to ruin it. In this case, I knew quite well that he'd refuse to go, even if I'd asked him a week in advance.. asking was more a formality than anything, even though I would have enjoyed having him there. If it was the short notice he was upset about, I'd completely agree that this was legitimate, but it was the fact I went at all! It makes me feel better that others don't think this is such a tall order.
I really do enjoy time with him, he's hilariously witty, great to cuddle with ... but since I so often literally feel like I have to sit on the couch at a specified proximity from him, and can't even flip through a magazine or knit, our time together is often as stressful as studying or work, if not moreso! This is a terrible way to feel!
Dear BabyHeartz... here is something that I could not help but think. We would never knowingly entrust our lives to a surgeon known for a high frequency of poor outcomes, and yet we can spend each day of those same precious lives in relationships with people who have consistently poor relationship records. (Survival, whether literal or metaphoric, is simple: there are three choices - we forego the operation, find another surgeon, or make sure the old surgeon gets the proper training and continuing education.)
The fact that your husband has no outside friends, does not go out, etc. underscores some potentially serious socialization problems. Is it possible to have a functional relationship with someone who is socially handicapped? I have come to believe that it is not (my husband was similarly socially handicapped some years ago)...
Here are a couple of important points I am reading in your message:
1. Your husband may be suffering from some psychological disorder (depression, socialization issues, attachment issues, etc.?).
2. Your husband may be feeling trapped in his marriage and is looking for a way out.
Number 2 may be a root cause of number 1 or vice versa.
If a person is ready to call for a divorce simply because his/her spouse went out for one evening, there is something far more significant going on. Truly, can anyone convince you or me that a marriage comes to a screeching halt because of a girl's-night-out? So... what has been brewing within him, for how long, at what depth, that he is looking for the first possible opportunity to scream "divorce" and run?
Two questions to ask yourself:
1. Do you love him enough, i.e. is it worth the time and effort, to invest yourself into figuring out and solving the problems of your marriage?
2. Does he love you enough to work with you?
(I will try to offer some more constructive suggestions in another post, when I have a little more time, but only you can decide, honestly, without reservations, outside the shadows of guilt or righteousness, whether you are truly willing to commit yourself to making this marriage work.)
Once again, in so many ways, you really hit it right on the nose. Of course, there ARE deeper issues- he is quite volatile at times, but the girls' night out seemed to serve as some sort of last straw in what he sees as a long list of wrongdoings on my part (most of which, I'd love to have prevented but couldn't due to responsibilities related to work or school.) I'm not saying I'm perfect- I have been known to dilly-dally at the grocery store on the way home, sleep late and therefore have to study while he's awake, etc.. but are these really such major crimes? I would think that the overtone that would make it OK is that I do love him and have the best intentions at heart.
I definitely think he's suffering from depression, but he has refused multiple times to be evaluated. He does have a positive family history; I haven't pried but sense that MIL went through similar things with his dad. (She is more passive than me and is a SAHM, though!) Do I think that he "loves me enough to make it work" in theory? Yes. Do I think that he's willing to break down his emotional barriers enough to deal with these things on a productive level and consistently TALK about things? No, because I honestly don't think he's able at this point. Needless to say, this spells disaster. Despite all of this, there is a teeny part of me that fears I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, and that if we were to split up, I'd regret it and miss him. Despite his threats, I am quite sure that if we did split up, it would be by my hand.. DH tends to suffer from what I like to call chronic inertia! :banghead:
There seem to be two options - a fight for happiness or the status quo. From what you have described, the status quo is becoming increasingly unbearable to both of you, so...
A few things to consider:
1. The power of validation should not be underestimated - giving your husband the opportunity to feel heard and understood, without "if"s, "but"s, and "or"s can be a great starting point. Here is a banal but illustrative example - you have a cup of hot coffee in your hand, and are standing close to a friend/colleague, engrossed in conversation, when another person accidentally bumps into you and makes you spill your coffee onto your friend. While it is understood that the coffee spill was unintentional, and you really neither meant it, nor caused it, you cannot expect or demand of your friend not to wince or perhaps even yell from the pain. You cannot take away their right to experience the reality of their own perceptions simply because you have a really good excuse. In other words, the justification of cause should not diminish the legitimacy/validity of the effect. In essence, being a good friend to your husband would mean putting down your own burden of guilt/frustration and empathizing with him for a moment (without reflexively focusing on yourself as the cause/culprit/etc.).
2. Asking him or encouraging him to seek help for depression, while a very sound and positive plan, may not be enough in this situation. In a way, he can perceive this as another way in which you are distancing yourself from him and/or "passing him off" to someone/something else. It is all about priorities - for what will you make time and what will you outsource?
3. Diffusing tension by being frank and showing vulnerability may help in building some of the bridges you need. The fact that you are stressed when you are sitting next to him on the couch is no light matter, and it is something he undoubtedly can perceive (even if he does not consciously realize it). A simple "Honey, I really love being here with you and cherish this little bit of time we enjoy together, but I am feeling a little on edge. I am worried about making you unhappy and I am stressed about silly things like "will it upset him if I lean closer or pull my legs under me". Will you please let me know if and when I am doing something that bothers you, before it starts bothering you? Thanks love!" Hug, kiss, etc. You may be able to draw in a deeper breath and he may feel your closeness and vulnerability rather than your stress and anxiety (which can be misinterpreted in so many ways).
There are some other things I wanted to mention, but this is all the time I have (even at 70 wpm ).
BabyHeartz, there is something about this situation that feels scary to me. Do you feel scared of him? If so, I would read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin deBecker, which talks about how you need to listen to your intuition, which can tell you if you are in danger. This is not necessarily the situation here, but sometimes partners who are very controlling will then become violent later in the relationship. I hope that is not the case, but there are a couple of red flags here and I do think it is something to consider.
Actually, we had a couple of really great talks over the weekend. I came home from work (you guessed it..9PM-ish!) on Saturday, and calmly demanded that we talk after he exhibited his highly typical pattern of sulking, scowling and then mumbling that he was going to bed. I followed him, tried to make nice, etc etc.. and when it didn't work, I calmly stated that I felt these types of interactions had gone far enough and I hoped we could talk. He refused, so I said, fine, then I'll talk! And I did. I really got everything off my chest. Finally (surprise!) he said that he was ready to talk too. He told me that he didn't "hate me, he loved me," and that he felt that my spending time with him had become a chore that I did so I could say I was "trying." He agreed that he does think he might have depression, but isn't willing to seek treatment and fears being "put on meds." We actually worked out some simple changes we're both going to try.For instance, he's going to try to be agreeable about going places on our days off together, and I'm going to consciously give him ten minutes a day on the days I work, where I really do just sit snuggled up to him on the couch and don't jabber about my day, eat, drink, read the paper or fuss with anything besides HIM! LOL this sounds weird.. I'm like "what, am I on time-out!?" but if its what he needs, I'm willing to try, at least until this sort of behavior feels more natural to me.
A recurring theme that came up was, because my schedule is the more demanding of the two, he feels and resents that everything (housework, sex, meals, recreation) has to happen on "my time." Haven't totally figured out how to fix this one yet.
So... we're going to try. I'm a little worried that we'll try, he'll be an angel, and... I'll still not be "feeling it." That to me is scarier than him NOT trying and me wanting out, because it makes me feel like I don't have a good reason! Hopefully those warm fuzzy feelings will happen with increased frequency when/if things improve.