09 April 2009

Q&A: Second Thoughts

I am doing something a little different with the Q&A today. This question has been sent to me twice, and it is one that I think probably many people wonder about. I think there are probably many different opinions, and I think the person who sent in the question would greatly benefit from hearing various perspectives.

Therefore, I am not going to answer the question. At least not today. I am posting this question so that all of you out there in CyberWorld will think about it, and hopefully put your thoughts together in a comment for whoever sent in the question. Feel free to answer anonymously if that makes you more comfortable sharing your thoughts...

Q: I have often thought about if I married the right person. The Church teaches you to marry a returned missionary, get married in the temple, so on and so on. (I'm not blaming the Church for my problems). I just question a lot of things because we got married so quickly, and everything seemed right at the time, and now we even have started a family, and I feel horrible for still questioning our relationship now. I love my husband, but it is not like the kind of love that I have experienced before. That sounds aweful, but it is true. I don't know what to do, and since I have seen both sides of the grass (because I am a convert) I often wonder if I made the right decision. Does this make sense? I am comfortable, but not truly happy. What advice would you give me. Please help. This has been on my mind for a long time.

What would you tell this young mother?


PDawg said...

I'm not LDS, but I found myself in a similar situation early on, marrying young and wanting to follow what my church asked of me, so I'll comment. I think it's a Catch-22 in a way. I wasn't going to live with my husband before we married, and I still don't personally think that's right for me, but it can be tough to find yourself thrown into something and then trying to figure out what to do. I believe that you can't know what a marriage is going to be like until you are in it. It's a leap.

I've also recently gone through a separation from my husband with the intent to divorce. We were 20 when we married, and we'd been married almost 9 years at the time we separated. We found a way to come back together, but it has been through some intensive marriage work/ therapy. And both people have to really want that. I know that's not for everybody.

But anyway, I believe it just depends on the couple. If one person isn't willing to try, then there's really no hope. I've been there before we split. If things are "pleasant", that's a hard one--for me they were not pleasant. But I also think with the kind of person I am, I need to know I'm valued and loved and treasured in a relationship--I don't know if the person who posed the question is feeling loved or not. Once you have kids, everything is more difficult, purely because you want the best for them and you never want to hurt them--but at the same time, if you're in a relationship where you're not happy and your spouse isn't willing to compromise or try, that doesn't send them the right message either. They need to see their mom loved because that's going to be the model they base their own marriage upon.

I also think that an important thing to consider here is that married love is not like dating love. Our society really portrays love as a blissful feeling. That's not possible to keep up in a long term relationship. The thing that has allowed us to come back together is the idea that LOVE IS A CHOICE, NOT A FEELING. It's the choice you need to make, especially when you don't FEEL it. Once you learn to choose love, every day, it sends a different message to your spouse that you're accepting them, no matter what. I think that's central to marriages that succeed.

Anyway, just thought I'd add my $.02. Thanks for doing the Q&A again. :)

Anonymous said...

First of all, the church teaches you to put a lot of thought into who you are going to marry, and to first pray about it (not to just marry a returned missionary or to marry quickly for the sake of marrying). If you pray about it the Lord will confirm whether or not you have made the right decision. If you get revelation that you are making the right decision, and choose to marry that person then you know that you have made the right decision. This does not mean that you will live a perfect life without trials, as we all go through trials. Every marriage has ups and downs. A marriage takes work. Both of you need to work at it. Also, this does not mean that the person you married will remain the same person, and will not make mistakes. Sometimes a spouse makes really bad decisions, that you can't change, and you have no choice but to end that marriage. However, if this is not the case, then both you and your spouse would be well served to work at your marriage- to improve it, with the Lord's help of course. One thing that made me really think was when you said "it is not like the kind of love that I have experienced before". This makes me wonder, why then did you marry the person? Irregardless, there is an excellent talk by an apostle (don't remember who....I'll find out) who said that it was not pre-ordained for any of us to marry a specific person. That there is no perfect or ideal soul mate for each of us. Rather, two people can love each other and have a wonderful marriage if they work at it. I personally know a lot of people who have wondered if indeed they married the right person, and decided to get a divorce thinking the grass was greener on the other side- that there was someone else out there who would be more perfect for them. But after they got divorced they realized that no, the grass is not greener on the other side, and that the new person they are in a relationship with also has lots of faults. Then they greatly regreted their decision, but could not go back. So they are left as unhappy as they were before, if not more unhappy. My advice to you would be to spend some good quality time with your spouse getting to know each other all over again, and finding things that you really like about that person. You may find that there are some things that you never knew about your spouse, and that you love. Also going to the Lord is also a very helpful thing to do. I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

I am going to post anonymously because I have been in a similar situation and I want to be sensitive to my husband and my family who also may read the blog.

My first word of advice is to make the decision to fully commit to the relationship no matter what. Now. If you are not going to work at it and are going to continue to doubt the relationship, it will never work because your heart is wondering.

My next advice is choose to find happiness. Find happiness in your relationship, find happiness in your family, find happiness in your skills and talents and in everyday life. As mothers and wives we tend to sacrifice everything for our families and that is NOT OK! Find a hobby, get a job, join a club, do something for yourself. The more you love yourself, the more willing you will be to love those who love you.

I also agree with the first comment that you choose who you love, therefore, make the decision you are going to love your husband and serve him. I don't been serve him as in make him dinner and be his maid, I mean serve him with love, attention, feelings, communications, dedication, commitment, all of that, however it works in your relationship.

Love fades and grows in any relationship. Sometimes it doesn't take any work and sometimes it takes a lot of work. It is really hard when married life doesn't seem "blissful" like we all think it should be, but it does not matter who it is with, every marriage experiences challenges.

I wish you the best of luck. Nobody deserves to be unhappy, but it is normal to feel down and uncertain, and that's when you do a little soul searching and discover what you need to pick you back up and get back on track.

Anonymous said...

This is such a hard one. I too have felt this way and have been going to counseling ever since I got married (BTW...it's a great profession Nikki!) It is so hard to let go of what your idea of marriage is and what is realistic. I know that before my husband and I got married there were butterflies and rainbows and everything was just perfect. NOT! It wasn't totally perfect before we got married but somehow I thought that marriage was going to change that...and then I realized that it's just a part of life. Marriage is hard and it can really suck sometimes. But working through your problems and letting your spouse know how you feel makes it easier. We know that is isn't always going to be perfect and that we have to work hard EVERY SINGLE DAY to make it work. But it's worth it..because in the end I wouldn't want to be with anybody else. I mean it's nice in thought to think oh the butterflies will be back..but it's only new for a short while. I think it is hard when you don't live together before you're married because you don't really know what you're getting into...it is a leap of faith. But I think eventually if both people are working hard it can turn into the fairy tale. Just remember that no one's relationship is perfect. It's so easy to look at other couples on Sunday sitting nicely with their families and think "Oh I wish I was like them" and then you find out what happens behind closed doors and you're really happy that you're not them. Hang in there. It's so hard to feel that way but make sure that their is open, honest communication and as you work at it you will feel the love strenghten.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to answer anonymously b/c...well, I just am.

I think most everyone has these same thoughts. It's the rare woman who never questions her marriage decision at some point in her life. I know 23 year olds who question, I know a 45 year old who told me she STILL questions after 20 years together - her husband is a bishop and near perfect in my eyes.

The world and it's definition of romantic comedy love has skewered all our perceptions of what love and marriage really are. This is the force that drives some to have affairs all their lives, or to go through an endless circle of pursuit, wild passion, then differences crop up, then break up. Then onto the next challenge, to find the 'love of my life' or 'soulmate'. Those phrases are SO overdone and so trite, spoken by 13 year olds going with someone for the first time - as well as 50year olds on their 15th relationship.

In Camilla Kimball's autobiography, she says that she cried every day of their first year of marriage. She goes on to mention in many ways she and Spencer's differences and times where life was hard and not what she wanted. Margie Hinckley, similar story.

I think it's unfair and unhealthy to expect things to be perfect in our marriages. I do acknowledge that we can certainly fall out of love, sometimes briefly and sometimes not so briefly. There was a time, maybe 5 years into our marriage when things were bad - we were not 'being' bad, but we were moving toward being roommates, bitter over differences (kids, finances, division of chores). I remember praying to love my husband again - HARD. We didn't speak for days. And, just to show how unrealistic our judgements are of others we see and deem them 'perfect' - I am sure we looked like the perfect couple to everyone. I really don't remember how we got through that patch. But, we did.

It's been awhile since then. There's laughing every day, there's shared interests, there's love, there's plenty of sex. Maybe we just kept trying? Maybe we decided that whatever's in our marriage was better than what's outside our marriage?

Having said that, with dear loved ones divorced for serious reasons -sometimes marriages need to end. It doesn't sound like you've got any of those serious problems in your marriage. Try a bunch of different things before you bail. Try counseling, try individual counseling, try prayer, pick an activity and do it together (besides sex...but speaking of sex...you need to be having it often), maybe pray for acceptance and more love to come into your heart. I hope you can work it out. I do believe some marry for the wrong reasons. But as Dr. Phil says, if you made the wrong decision, now's the time to make the decision right - I'm mangling his words! but he means, there's children and covenants involved...don't give up easily, make the decision you made (to marry) a right one by fighting for it.

Anonymous said...

I can only speak from my own experience also, but having done all of the above, including marrying at 19(not in the temple),then being divorced twice and having experienced what marriage has been like with three different men with three different religious backgrounds and personalities, I would first like to agree with the comments above and also add my opinion to them. .
There is NO perfect relationship and NO perfect love, no matter how it might appear from the outside.Every person struggles with something and has some weakness to overcome. Every person living on this earth is learning and growing at all different places and stages in life. Some have one thing mastered that others might still need to learn through themselves. We are all different and individual with our own expectations and experiences that shape us and affect how we will handle different situations and things in this life. I believe a little tolerance goes a long way. Just as we would hope that our spouse will stay by our side while we learn through our weakness' , so should we (this excludes those things such as abuse).
I think Love is a tricky thing. Can one person truly know how their spouse really feels without being them? We all have different ways of showing our love, and although I know I prefer open affection from my spouse, I don't know that it would be fair to expect him to show it my way, any more than it would be fair for him to expect me to show love his way. The best advice I have ever received in this area was also mentioned above and that is when you are struggling with love in your marriage, serve your spouse. Because in serving them you will forget yourself and will in turn love him more. We can't help but love those we serve. . . .I want to add to that, that if we serve without expecting anything in return, it is more effective. I know that my husbands heart has been softened through my service and although he doesn't show it much now, forty years down the road I know it will shape a part of our relationship then. Sometimes I think we expect too much too soon, but if we would focus more energy on who we are becoming as a person and overcoming our own weaknesses and forget wishing our spouse would change or that they were different in some way, we would find that things will work themselves out and a ways down the road we will be able to look back at how far we have come and will be so thankful that we didn't give up when the going got tough. . . . I believe it was President Hinkley who stated that we choose our love, then love our choice. And I believe it can be that simple. Just love them and be tolerant of them and they will, in time learn how to love us. . . . and if not, IF your time has been spent focusing on who you will become and overcoming your own weaknesses, you will only turn out for the better, having been strengthened through the process along the way. I know that it is us who decides our happiness or the lack thereof. If we choose to be unhappy because things in life fall short of our expectations, than we will find ourselves unhappy our entire lives. This life was not meant to be easy. It is through those things in life that require an effort on our part, that stretch us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually that we will learn and grow so we can become like our Heavenly Parents. Hang in there. Love him through his trials and don't let the advisary work through you to work against him. Pray for him to have the strength to overcome his weaknesses. Pray that you too, will have the strength to endure your trials. When we obey the commandment to marry for time and all eternity in the temple, you can't go wrong. Do your part to keep those covenants made and return to the temple often to keep those covenants fresh in your mind. Your strengths will balance out his weaknesses and vice versa. :o) I hope some of this made sense and will be helpful to you. Good luck in your journey!

Rachel L. said...

Let me preface this by saying that I am not married and am not LDS - that said, I saw a "technique" used once that I thought was interesting and I think it might be helpful here. You make 2 lists (each with 2 parts). On the first list, you should write down all the things you loved and respected about your husband when you married him - but when you write these down, break them out between "core" and "superficial" - with the core reasons being things like shared faith/values, maybe you admire that he has a servant's heart, maybe he is a hard worker or a good example to others - and on the other side of that list, maybe you liked his pretty blue eyes or the fact that he bought your flowers all the time.

On the second list, bring all of those things to the present day. Do you still admire his faith? Does he still buy you flowers? Do you think he sets a good example for your children? That might help you figure out if the things you have a harder time with now are the superficial things or not - and it may help remind you that he may still have all those qualities that you respected him for before you were married.

If you find that his "core" qualities have changed a lot (for the worse), I don't really have any advice (sorry), but I think the exercise is helpful, because those core things are the ones that I think can remind you that it's worth it to plow through the times when the superficial stuff might not be perfect.

And outside of this "technique," my personal feeling is that you can love anyone that you want to love - like another poster said, love is a choice more than a feeling sometimes. The question becomes whether or not you make the choice to love one another and forge ahead together. But, like other posters have mentioned, it's much harder to "forge ahead" if one of you doesn't want to.

Good luck.

Nikki said...

I am loving these comments! Thank you all so much. I'm sure whoever wrote this is very appreciative.

I keep having a quote come to mind as I read through these comments:

People think the grass is greener on the other side, when in reality, the grass is greener where you water it.

Just a thought...

dr laura said...

i wouldn't tell her anything- you're not a therapist. she and her husband should go to counciling

Anonymous said...

Hey it's me the one who left the "question." Thanks so much for all the wonderful feedback from everyone, and I would love to here more if you have any. And for Dr. Laura- we have gone to counciling and that made our relationship better for about a month, and now it is back to being horrible. He is manipulative, and I can never do anything right in his eyes. He is not there for our kids, and he is very, very selfish, and all he thinks about is his job. Many things have happened in our relationship to make me question our marriage, and with everything that has happened I don't know when to say enough is enough. It just seems like a vicious cycle of never ending guilt that I feel for maybe not calling it off when I should have (before the wedding). I wasn't strong enough, and I don't know if I'm strong enough now, because now we have kids involved. I hope this answers some more questions, and feel free to ask me more if anyone has any, or any more advice for me. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, it really means a lot, and thanks Nikki for posting it- you are the best!

Anonymous said...

DR. LAURA... I have been to multiple therapists with my divorce situation, and for other reasons... I have received different opinions from all... I don't think it matters if she is a therapist or not, these are all real life situations that all these commenters are telling and have been through, and an HOUR or 20 hours of counciling couldn't ever pay for that... I'd rather learn from "People/therapists" with REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES, then anyone that has learned it all from A TEXT BOOK or Online studies. Don't get me wrong, I believe a ton in Therapy, but to tell anyone to not "tell her anything" is selfish. Keep this going, please tell this struggling person more and more. She needs all the help she can get at this time in her life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous...it's me...the one with the "question." I'm up late, can't sleep like always, and I really truly appreciate all the comments. Everyone has been so nice, and talk about "service"...thank you for leaving your comments, because everyone's advice and opinions really help. Like I said in the above comment we have been to counciling, and it did help our relationship for a short period of time, and then things went right back to the way they were. I don't know how to explain it...it almost makes me sick to be around him. I have been to the doctor because I am depressed, and it is really because of our relationship. My children are my world, and I just wish they would be his too. He says they are, but in reality I don't think he really knows what that means, and he always puts himself first. Being a convert was hard, and I didn't have my families supprt. My family is so important to me, and we are really close. I know they bite their lip a lot when it comes to things that he says and does to me, and sometimes I just want to scream, "help me!" Because I feel so very very alone at times. I do believe I am a good wife and mother, and I do acts of service all the time for both him and my children, and I always feel unappreciated by him. He has the attitude like he is "Holyer than thou" and it is really hard, when he never thinks he is wrong. Don't get me wrong...I know I have many faults and I am not perfect, but it really hurts when you feel like you are the only one trying in the situation, and when things are going better for that split second- it gets turned around and it feels like we take two steps back. Anyways, I know I am rambling, but please keep the comments coming, and like I said before thanks for taking your time to help me, and if you have any questions for me please ask. And again...thanks Nikki. I appreciate it so much!

dr. laura said...

well then anonymous, the "one with the question". it sounds to me like you've answered your own question. if it really is THAT BAD, you need to honestly ask yourself this question. Are these things something that you're willing to live with? You said you tried couciling and it didn't work. But if it is that bad, maybe you should file for divorce. Everyone deserves to be happy- you just need to decide what you're willing to live with.

Anonymous said...

To the letter writer or question asker...I already commented but I just feel so bad for the situation you are in. I completley know the feeling and have wanted to give up on my marriage so so many times. I got married young as well and my husband was viewed by many to be manipulative and controlling. I went to counseling and it has helped but counseling can only do so much. The real work has to take place with the 2 of you. No one can tell you when enough is enough or how much you can handle but you do have children involved and you have made covenants. It's hard to think of all of those things when you are depressed and things seem so hopeless. I know with my husband he was the same way where I just felt like he didn't really care. And not that I agree with this at all but I started giving up too. I told him that I was done caring and that he could see how it felt. I stopped doing everything. We were basically like roomates. He got to see what it was like and didn't like it. And it is important to know that I didn't do that to "show him" I did it because that was the way I really felt. Like I was doing it all...and I was tired. I think the most important thing to remember is that Heavenly Father will never leave you alone. It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves and forget about others. Go out and serve...it will make you appreciate what you have...even if your life isn't ideal right now..it still helps! Also, it is so easy to look back and have regrets and think of if only. I know I have done it a million times! The first thing my therapist said to me was well it is what it is. This is your reality. The sad thing was I was trying harder to think of a way to get out of my marriage then I was actually trying to work on it. I don't know if that's the case for you...but once I actually started trying it made all of the differnece in the world. She told me that I had to set a timeline...mine was for 3 months and during that 3 months I had to give MY ALL to my marriage...and it hasn't been perfect but it's defineltey improved! You can't expect perfection over night. Hopefully this has helped...sorry i'm rambling too!

dr laura said...

and to say you're not sure if you should get divorced b/c you have kids involved?! that is the most selfish thing you can say! to have a child grow up in a totally disfunctional family does more harm that if you got divorced and were civil with your ex. please consider the LONG TERM damage you are doing to your kids by staying in an unhappy marriage.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Laura...I have never used the "d" word, and I haven't in my comments either. I have just asked for suggestions, and things that have worked or not worked for people. Anonymous above who was in the same situation- THANK YOU! First thank you for explaining, and it does sound that our situation is/was similar. That is how I feel, and thank you for letting me know that you have worked through it...it does give me hope, and that is comforting to hear. Second-THANK YOU for taking the time to comment, it really means a lot, and it helps me ponder and think about a lot of things. Thank you! I said that right? ;)

PDawg said...

I posted at the top too, and I just want to reiterate what others have said. Counseling is great--we went for a long time too, but you have to both want to make a change. You can only change yourself, and I have found that for us it was easy to be in counseling and agree about and talk about what we needed to talk about and then go right back home and fall into the same patterns. This is not to say counseling is not valuable, but consider this: counseling lead me to feeling like I should give up on my marriage. I have since come to discover that I shouldn't, but counseling didn't have anything else to offer me.

For us, it took a suggestion from my husband's aunt that we attend this intensive program called Retrouvaille. Have you heard of it? www.retroca.com It's run by the Catholic church but it's open to anyone. We are not Catholic (I'm Protestant, non-denominational, and he's an atheist) but it changed our perspective completely. It's an intensive retreat where you evaluate what's between you and work on some very basic communication skills so you are able to talk without blame and listen without feeling judged. It really helped us and we're coming back together.

But really, you need to do what feels right for you. To the more negative voices on here, pay no attention. Or to any of them, if they don't seem right to you. Only you know what it is like to be in your marriage. Only you know what is best for your kids. Only you know what you can live with, and what you can't.

I wish you luck, and I empathize. It's so tough.

Thanks again to Nikki for starting the conversation!

PDawg said...

Oh, and this. No matter what ends up helping you, realize that might be how God speaks to you. Even through the support of anonymous posters on a blog. Take help and love and support wherever you find it. One of the worst things in the world was feeling like I was letting my family, my church, God, anyone down by having a difficult marriage. There's always something to be said for the support of others.

Nikki said...

Thank you to all these commenters! Dr. Laura, I appreciate your opinion. And to it, I would say read the previous post by PDawg...I have been in dark places and I realize that support of ANY KIND can really make a huge difference. Even anonymous support from a random blog. So even though I'm not a therapist, I am a woman who has been through it. And there are a lot of people out there who have advice and opinions and support to share. I'm just trying to facilitate that.

And can I mention that I loved the comment by Rachel L? What an awesome idea!! I am going to tuck that one away for future use, for sure. Thanks for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

PDawg...thank you! Your comments are amazing, and I will look into that program. It really means a lot that people care, and it is so nice of you to share you experiences. THANK YOU! A lot of these comments are really helpful, and I am really taking to heart what people are saying- anonymous or not! Thank you again for you views, and all this has really made me think about a lot of things- I needed this, and thanks again Nikki for posting it- it means so much to me that you did. Thanks again everyone!

Anonymous said...

i'm not advocating giving no advice to people asking for it.... but just coincidentally i read a book by dr laura- the proper care and feeding of husbands. It was really insightful and helped me understand the way my husband works when i dont feel like i understand him at all. The advice in there really helped our relationship. Its a quick easy read, can't hurt.

Anonymous said...

1. i loved and agree with every thing the 2nd & 3rd commenters said.

2. i wanted to add that i believe staying in a marriage & working hard at it FOR your children is a very noble and un-selfish thing to do. (as long as the problems don't include the 3 A's: abuse, addiction or (long term)adultery

3. i loved dr. laura's books, "the proper care & feeding of husbands," and "the proper care & feeding of marriages." it really helped me in my marriage.

4. good luck. i know it's hard, but (for me) it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

To our original questioner: I'm the anon. who posted quoting both Dr. Phil and Camilla Kimball - just to get things straight.

After reading your subsequent post where you described your husband as controlling and manipulative...ah, that'a big bit to swallow. My father was the same and I can tell you that as a child, I literally prayed for my parents to divorce. They never did, separated 3 major times. I remember the bishop trying to help my mom many heartbreaking times. The whole ward knew where my dad was emotionally and everyone just felt sorry for us. My mother went through years of depression and sadness. Her journals are devastating to read.

So, my message is - getting out sometimes is the best thing. Only you can know that. I hate to be the voice saying walk in this thread - and I'm not saying that - maybe I'm saying a mix of my original post and this one. That's why we can't ever judge another or make decisions for another - only you and the Lord will know when to keep trying and when to reassess and when to go to plan B. Good luck.

The Dobrons said...

It's hard to know if this thought of mine will relate because I don't know much about the situation, but what I thought of was that sometimes, we lose that spark and it's because we stopped trying. Sometimes we spend so much time questioning instead of moving forward. It's easy to fall into the trap of living parallel lives. You get along fine, but you aren't growing together. Get out alone together, create some new memories, and turn your focus to serving him and doing things for him and your love will grow...and maybe even something that hasn't been strong will strengthen. Hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

It is hard, because people have to be in the situation to understand it. We have gotten help, and I just don't know if he is ever going to change. That is the hardest part. And to the anonymous commentor above...we don't get a long at all (at least most of the time), we are at each other most of the time, or just not talking at all. I am so frusturated because I don't now what to do, and it is hard to feel good around him. Thanks for all the wonderful comments again, and I am going to try, but he needs to try too. I am so tired of doing everything for him and my children, and feeling so unappreciated. I know I need to go to the Lord in prayer, and I have, but it is one of those things that I have felt is up to me...I haven't recieved an answer either way. Thanks for all the advice, and it really has made me contemplate many things! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across a movie a few weeks ago in one of those Redbox things in the grocery store (Blockbuster has it too) and I think it might be good for you to watch. It was called Fireproof and it is about a marriage that is falling apart and what one spouse did to try to save it when the other spouse didn't seem interested in trying at all. It sounds like their marriage was a lot like your is now - they didn't like being around each other and whenever they were with each other, they fought. It is a movie made by a Baptist church (if I remember right) and it is really inspiring. It shows how you have to rely on Heavenly Father and that how sometimes you feel like everything you do is unnoticed and unappreciated but that one day all you have done adds up to changing the heart of the other person. You never know when that day might be so you can't give up. It takes 100 percent effort 24/7, it takes dedication, it takes perseverance, it takes patience and most importantly, it takes humbling, on both parties part. That all takes time, a lot of time. Be patient - it won't change over night. The movie also has a website with help on marital issues. It might be a good resource. Good luck and keep praying!

DrD said...

There are so many facets to this story that only the individual knows that it's hard to give much specific advice, but here are some thoughts for what they're worth.

1) I agree with everyone so far who has said that the first thing to check in this situation is yourself -- are you serving him selflessly? Are you trying to nurture the love that has faded, remembering that love the feeling is a fruit of love the action? If so, are you doing this with pure intent, or are you doing it with the attitude of "see, I'm being nice and he's still a jerk, therefore I'm justified in being emotionally closed off to him."

2) If you're really trying to do #1 with a pure heart, then I think you need to ask if there's any big sin that'd be harming the sanctifying power of the third member of your temple marriage - the Lord. The fact that you said "it is hard to feel good around him" is interesting to me. Is that a spiritual thing? Is he doing things that have driven the spirit away? Is he into porn, abuse, etc? If so, and he isn't taking responsibility for changing that, then I think you at least have a starting point for where to go next -- the bishop, followed by perhaps some specialized counseling in that area. Or whatever may be leading to that bad feeling, if it's a spiritually bad feeling. Either way, I think that personal worthiness has a lot to do with the happiness in any marriage into which the Lord has been invited through covenant.

Or is that discomfort about you? Do you have a hard time letting people close, or something like that? That doesn't sound like what's going on here, but it's worth looking at.

3) On a similar note, I think that the abuse of priesthood power (see D&C 121) can absolutely destroy a marriage. It sounds like that may be going on. If so, then I think advice from the Bishop is warranted. And perhaps a visit from the Bishop with your husband.

Best of luck to you in what must be a terribly trying time. And one last thought: perhaps you haven't felt an answer because you haven't made a decision to take to the Lord. One last thing to consider is the possibility that the bad feelings you get around your husband are the answer, and the reason you don't get much when you pray is that He's already giving you an answer. Just a thought.

A link to an article I've found helpful in times like these:

DrD said...

One last thing: I think there's a fine line that a person walks when they're in a potentially abusive marriage. The article I mentioned above outlines it nicely. Basically, at what point do you go from being a patient, longsuffering, loving wife to a consenting victim of abuse of the body, soul, and spirit that God entrusted you with.

When do you need to keep trying, and when do you need to get out?

And you, the Lord, and inspired counsel from your Bishop are the only ones that can answer that.

Anonymous said...

Another thing that might help is to stop thinking about what you are tired of, what your complaints are and how you feel unappreciated. Start thinking about what his complaints are about you and try to change those. If he sees your efforts to change, his heart will be softened, with time. Do it humbly - not like "see how I am changing - why don't you change too?" That won't work. Do it without telling him or showing him or rubbing his face in it.

I know how you feel about being unappreciated - I have 3 young children, I work 3/4 time (not quite full time but close) and I do EVERYTHING around the house. When I focus on that I get really mad and upset that I have all that responsibility.

But if I choose to focus on how hard my husband is working and how much I appreciate him when he does help me around the house, everything is better. If I show him I appreciate his efforts, he is more willing to make more efforts. If I nag him, he just shuts down.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be positive about things he does do and don't nag about the things he doesn't. Try to say something positive to him each day. Build him up, don't tear him down.

He will change but you have to change your approach first. Dr. Laura's book (The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands) is a really good resource - it made a huge difference in my marriage when we had really gotten off course.

Whenever negative thoughts of your husband come into your head - push them aside and say something positive about him. It is hard at first but it will get easier. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I already commented but thought of something else. When my husband and I went to counseling I went in and talked about all of the awful things that my husband did and how he was such a jerk for all of these reasons. I told her that I thought he was controlling and that he was manipulative and the list went on and on. When the counselor asked me to give specific examples I could only give a couple. The person above touched on it but it really hit a nerve with me. Every time my husband did something wrong I added that to my "backpack" and it validated my feelings of dislike. My counselor mentioned how my husband can do a million wonderful things, I will ignore those and look to prove the idea that I have that he is a jerk. It was really sad to see how much good he did but that I was just looking for the bad things. I'm not saying you're doing this but it's just a thought. It's so easy to see the bad in each other and especially if the relationship is going through a hard time it's very easy to do. It might just be as simple as changing your perspective and looking for the good in the relationship and not the bad.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I TRIED talking to him yesterday...I emphasize the word tried because basically he didn't want to listen to anything I had to say- it was in one ear and out the other. I told him how I felt, and he said, "Ok, well then lets get a divorce. I know someone who is a divorce lawyer, and I'm going to call him right now." Then he went outside and called him or "said" he called him, I don't know if he actually did or not. I just don't know what to do because he wants to take the kids, give half of his business debts to me, and I had nothing to do with it, but because he said he put the company in "our name" that I would get half of the debt. Anyways, I am just struggling, because then today (Easter Sunday) he is acting like yesterday never happened, and because I'm not talking to him much, he asked, "What's wrong babe?" I don't think he will ever change, and I just don't get it. Please let me know your thoughts, because I am a scared stay at home mom that doesn't know anything about temple divorce, or what I need to do to keep my kids. Let me know, thanks.

drd said...

My two cents:

I think you need to talk to your bishop, a trusted friend, a sensitive LDS therapist, or someone like that. You're obviously dealing with a serious situation, and contemplating serious means of coping with that situation. With that in mind, I think that a forum like this may not really be the right place to seek in-depth advice for such an important topic. Most (if not all -- I don't know) on here don't know your situation beyond what you've written on here, and consequently no matter how well-intentioned anyone's advice is, it's no substitute for a good heart-to-heart with someone who knows you and the situation. While a forum like this can be very helpful for certain things, I think it also has limitations; there's no substitute for the back and forth dialogue with a wise, familiar friend during something this big.

Perhaps you're doing that anyway, and everyone's thoughts on here are just an addition to that. If not, though, I'd hate for you to be basing your actions in such a huge decision solely on the feedback (albeit well intentiond, good feedback) of people who know very little about the situation.

Just my two cents. Not knocking the forum AT ALL, because I love it -- just pointing out what I think is a limitation when walking in such sensitive areas with an issue of such eternal consequence.

My heart goes out to you. I hope you have someone you can talk to about this -- someone who can be objective and sensitive. It'd be a tremendously heavy burden to carry alone.

My two cents.

Anonymous said...

My advise would be to stop telling him how you are "feeling". I am sure he has got it - you are miserable. He doesn't want to hear you complain - he will shut down and strike at you every time if you keep "trying to talk".

Men and women speak two totally different languages. My husband and I can have a conversation about something and walk away with 2 totally different interpretations - it is unbelievable sometimes!

I would bet that every time you "try to talk" to him, he hears you telling him that he is a failure as a husband, a father, a provider, a lover, etc. - even if that is not what you are literally saying. It sounds like he is trying to strike at you with the "d" word before you canget him. It is a defensive move which tells me he is trying to protect himself from being hurt and that he feels backed in a corner.

Men are people of action, not words. Women like to talk about things and analyze everything and bring everything up over and over again (that is why most bloggers are women - ha ha). It drives men crazy! I would stop beating the poor guy up with words and show him some action - do something nice for him - don't expect anything in return.

What's important is what are YOU doing that is POSITIVE to make it better? What are you actively DOING besides complaining to him?

SHOW him you want to try to make this work. What did you do for him when you were dating? What nice things did he enjoy you doing? Bringing him lunch at work? Making him a special dinner? A special phone call in the afternoon? A love text message? Our my husbands personal favorite - fresh batch of brownies when he walks in the door. Just DO something.

I, too, am a convert and I have been married for almost 10 years and as soon as I start whining and complaining, my husband starts shutting down - he doesn't want to hear that. But if I act in a proactive manner in which I am trying to make the situation better, he response in a much more positive way.

I am sure you think that I just don't understand but my marriage has had its ups and downs too. A few years ago my husband and I looked at each other and wondered how we had gotten so far off course. Don't feel bad - it can happen to even the most vigilant couples - it is easy to do with life, kids, mortgages, businesses, family, bills, etc. You can get it back on track but you have to MAKE it happen - it will not happen on its own. Now, go DO something!

P.S. WWJD? How would he want you to treat your husband. Family is about sticking through the tough times and working things out.

Anonymous said...

Love changes. It starts out magical and fun and exciting but it does change. Your love has to mature in order to survive. Your love will grow stronger for him by making it through these tough times. Raising a small family is no small task! Don't give up!

Been there... said...

First of all, to the one who asked the question, props to you for not giving up and trying to find help! I read your comment and my heart aches for the pain and confusion you are feeling because I have been there, and it sucks. It is amazing what a great support system will do for you through rough times.

I agree with some of the other posters that this is deeper than "marriage is just hard, keep trying", but I don't think it hurts to tell you to hang in there.

In my marriage, which had several rough years (we are finally to the point where we have had more good years than bad, but it has taken a while...) the "trying to talk" thing always did more damage than good, honestly, we just had to start having positive experiences together to remind us the fun we had in our marriage and why we used to enjoy each other.

It is never an instant fix, but I found that we started to talk more as we enjoyed being around each other, and those talks led to a lot of things we both needed to hear/say.

Every relationship is different. Sometimes divorce is an option, even if there isn't a BIG REASON, i.e. adultery or drugs or something. Talking about it to people helps get things off of your chest, and some advice may help, but remember your situation is unique and only you will know what is best. Agency is a powerful thing, but trust the Lord to trust in you and your decisions as you seek answers righteously.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the anonymous above, and for not getting on me for "trying" to talk to my husband...heaven forbid! It really helps when people share their personal experiences, and it is nice to know that people are willing to help. I just need people there to listen, and it has been so nice that people are volunteering their time to do so. Thank you. I think we can work through it, but right now it is really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here is my take on your situation. I am speaking from "100%, been there, done that, don't ever want to do that again, thank you very much" experience.

Now I would say that your marriage has fallen off the road and into the ditch. Let me tell you a little bit about the ditch - it sucks! But the good news is that you can get out - yipee! You both probably feel the same - you both have your emotional skin exposed and it is completely raw so every time you come into contact with each other pain radiates through your whole body and you both overreact in an attempt to protect your "skin". Does that make sense?

Now, what to do about it? Well, here is what we did: we called a truce and took a few steps back and agreed to just stop “pushing each others buttons” or “touching each others emotional skin”. What also helped us and some of our friends was reading Dr. Laura's book "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands" (recommended to our friends by their therapist). You should read it individually then talk about it together. To be honest, it may be a tough read if you are, like I was, guilty of what she talks about in there. Humbly ask him if that is how he really feels. Like the person said above, men and women speak 2 different languages, so even if you think you are saying something in a nice, unattacking way, he may not be receiving it that way (you would be surprised at how things can get twisted in the female to male translation - incredible!).

Marriage is about helping each other when you are down. And yes, sometimes you have to make the first move, the second move, the third move, etc. until finally his skin starts to heal and he can begin to move with you. It can be done – my marriage is proof of that – it just takes a lot of hard work and it will not change over night. Just keep digging your way out of the ditch and he will start helping you dig. Wish you the best!

Anonymous said...

Just a quick thought.... do you know what he wants with his life right now? Deep down? Not what he is doing about it, but what his true desires are? Think of a really tactful way for him to share with you, his goals and aspirations for himself, for you as a couple, and for your family. It will be quite energizing if you discover that you both actually want the same things out of life. Start back at the basics, at ground zero. Help him express to you, who he is and what he wants out of life. If he can't say it, have him write it. It is so so so hard to do, but put all of the attention on him for this so that he can feel like he can let his defensive guard down. Oh man, it is so hard to give the man who is hurting you, so much love and attention. That is truly charity. And you can do it. Whatever you do during this crucial time, pray for humility and charity so that he can feel love and concern as your motive. I will be praying for you both that you can be blessed with some peace in your home.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note - I wrote the comment not right above this but the one above that and I just reread it and I wanted to say that I didn't mean to sound like I know exactly what you are going through. That is not what I meant at all so before anyone gets upset at me I just wanted to say that I just meant to explain what I went through, what my experience was and what really helped. I wish you the best and hope that my comment only comes across as helpful. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the anonymous above...your comments are extremely helpful, and I didn't take it in that negative aspect at all. It really does help when you have something to relate too, and it does sound like the same thing we are going through. I really like you anology about the exposed skin- that is a perfect way to put it, and I don't think I could have said it better myself!

Anonymous said...

Marriage is more about working together with a partner than gazing into each other's eyes. Attraction brings us together, but our character is what will keep us together. So many girls sign up for the Happily Ever After before marriage and think that it's the next phase...we have to work to create our happily ever after.

I am married. Love my husband. Sometime can't stand it when he leaves his wet towel on the bed after he showers or leave his bowl in the sink rather than the dishwasher. Wish he asked me how I feel about things more often. Wouldn't mind if he planned something romantic sometime...or ever, but I'm not perfect either and we don't live in a perfect world so for now we'll just do the best we can.

I have found the happier I am with myself (i.e. in shape, getting ready for the day, happy in general) the happier I am with my marriage and the better my outlook is.

If the grass looks greener on the other side, it's probably because they are taking better care of it!

Anonymous said...

I am definitely taking care of it, and I try and do as many things as possible to keep myself happy. And my children are a huge part of that! I exercise weekly...3 days a week to be exact (with my children), and take great care of myself.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your lovely comments (mostly) and I am happy to say that we are going to try and work through it, and we have made a TRUCE. I think that was a great idea, and I still LOVE the anology of the skin being exposed...like I said- I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for all your comments, and Nikki I am still interested in what you have to say...thanks again for posting this- it really means a lot!

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