Is this part of my quarter-life crisis? (a blizzard inside)
posted by st starseed to human relations (71 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Is this part of my quarter-life crisis?
My wife and I are coming up on our 6-year wedding anniversary. We've been a couple for 12 years after meeting in college (I'm 32, she's 31). I love her, and our marriage has been enjoyable, with minimal conflict and great shared experiences.
But for the last two years, things have been...different...and not in a good way. I'm not sure if my negative emotions are a result of me, of her, of other circumstances, of our place in life, or something I don't know about. I'm writing this to get some thoughts and wisdom from the hivemind so I can determine how to quell the negativity. Perhaps others have had similar circumstances.
Here's what I don't like that I'm feeling:
1. I don't miss her when I'm not with her. For example, last weekend, two friends and I went to an amusement park for the day and stayed the night. I was happy she wasn't with me, because I enjoyed the time with them. I would have enjoyed it less had she been present.
2. I'm bored when I'm with her, often no matter where we are. Whether we're at a baseball game, we're watching a movie at home, we're at a family function...she doesn't stir my emotions or, perhaps more unfortunate, make me laugh.
3. I'm embarassed (for both her and me) by the way she tells stories. Recently, at a gathering of people we only loosely knew, she took over the room and spent about three minutes telling a story that could have been told better in about thirty seconds. She adds lots of unnecessary details and fails to get to the point. I used to find this quirk of hers cute and admirable, but now it's like nails on a chalkboard.
4. I often think about what my life would be like with another person. Mind you, not a specific person; there's no other fish, so to speak, that I'm interested in chasing. But if I see an attractive woman in a shop or a restaurant or the aforementioned amusement park, I begin thinking about what she might be able to provide that my wife can't or doesn't. For example, I've recently begun having this fantasy that I could call my wife on a Friday afternoon, say, "Let's go to Vegas for the weekend!" and she'd be delighted and say "Awesome, I can't wait!". This would never happen, admitteldy for real-world reasons (detailed below), but mostly because she doesn't have that spontaneous mentality that I am longing for or hoped would develop.
5. I resent her because our sex life is awful.
6. I resent her for not taking control of her health. She's overweight, and doesn't like how she looks, and she's extremely insecure about her body. Yet she doesn't exercise, and eats poorly. Frankly, I'm not going to be the husband who says "Oh, it's okay, I love how you look" because I don't. I want her to feel good about herself when she looks in the mirror.
7. I resent her for making me feel guilty about the way I live my life. For example, about a month ago, me and my two best friends had Guys Day. We played basketball, played video games, and went out for dinner and drinks and football-watching. And I felt guilty about it because she stayed home. She does not have close friends (her two best friends live at least a day's drive away) like I have close friends.
8. I resent her for being unable to communicate in any meaningful way about all of the above. Because she is rather insecure (to the point where she needs to hear from me at least once a week that I'm not going to divorce her), any discussion about our relationship and each other inevitably ends in tears. Then I feel bad for making her cry, she resents me for making her cry, and nothing changes.
Despite how I make it sound, my wife is a caring, loving person. She has a very hard full-time job that she's good at, and she is unselfish to the point where it's potentially harmful (ie putting others before herself). To that end, perhaps I'm blind to my own issues, as I alluded to above, or perhaps other circumstances are causing my negativity. It's worth highlighting that:
1. The last 3 years have been something of a settling period for us. We bought a house, physically tying us to a location after 7 years of apartment living in 4 different states. I've personally never been comfortable with physically settling...which brings us to #2...
2. I've settled, uncomfortably, into a profession and series of jobs that I have little interest in and am doing only because of inertia (and to pay bills). The years of apartment-living that I mention above were dynamic...I had exciting workplaces and was able to try out business ideas...I felt more alive and interesting and was meeting more people. I'm not one of those people who wants to be defined by my occupation/work, but I certainly prefer interesting work.
3. THE BIG ONE. We had a baby 7 months ago. I adore him, and I look forward to the days when we can pick pumpkins in the pumpkin patch, play catch, eat ice cream together, etc. Motherhood has clearly taken a toll on my wife - as I know it does all women - as breastfeeding and getting up at night kills sex drive, and the mere presence of a such a young child kills spontaniety. I get that, but I'm concerned it won't get better, and this little guy I love so much will, indirectly, continue to create the negative emotions I state above. Friends tell me the first two weeks are the hardest; her doctor told her the first year is the hardest. Are the teenage years the hardest? I have no idea, but I don't think life as a parent should be lived thinking, "Okay, it'll get better when XYZ."
These three factors, combined, I think, are making me resent my wife, and to some extent, life in general, even though I recognize I have a lot of great things in it. My hope, although I know the green isn't supposed to be a Dear Abby, is that you can point me toward some further reading or just spare some thoughts to help me get over this hump (leaving out the standard MeFi suggestion of therapy, as I certainly realize that's an option). My fear is that a lot of my options to feel happier are exhausted; the classic idea of Date Night, for example, doesn't much appeal to me at the moment, as I am already picturing an un-fun conversation at the dinner table. There's the useful "do the housework for her" suggestion, but I'll note that I already handle everything (money, chores, social calendar) that doesn't involve her job or the baby and have been handling those things for our entire marriage. We have tried doing rather unconventional activities together; for example, we tried to read a book of the bible together each week and then discuss it (we're not religious; we wanted to see what the fuss was about), but that didn't go anywhere after the first month (perhaps we just need a new book). We once tried to watch all three Lord of the Rings movies back-to-back-to-back on a rainy Sunday; we both fell asleep. I tried to get her to go through our pictures together with the goal of making birthday postcards for our friends; while I found it to be a pleasant walk down memory lane, she found it to be more like work.
So, what do we do? Am I the problem? Is she the problem? Is there a problem? Am I being an idiot? For those of you so inclined to look at my previous questions, am I dancing around issues? Thank you for reading this far; while I apologize there's no question in the normal sense, I do appreciate any help you can give in getting me to love my wife again.