Marriage in trouble, wife refuses relationship counseling. What next?
June 21, 2014 5:05 PM   Subscribe

My wife Jane and I are in our 40s and have been together for eight years. We got along well for the first few years, but things have been steadily going south since then. In theory, we both want to improve our marriage, but we are not making much progress on our own. I could use some advice.

Problem #1: Contrasting personalities

Jane and I are two very different people with divergent interests. We originally got together because we are both huge animal-lovers (and also hard-core vegans, for reasons of animal rights). We also found out that neither of us has ever wanted to have children. Aside from these areas of concordance, we agree on little else.

Jane is outgoing and is the quintessential life of the party. I’m shy, quiet, and bit awkward. She likes to knock ’em back, I don’t drink. I’m quite happy to sit for hours in front of a computer, working on a programming project. Jane is very talkative and requires constant attention when we’re home (she often accuses me of not listening). I’m interested in science and technology – but not current affairs. Jane listens to NPR and follows political blogs. I’m reserved – Jane is emotional. She’s capable of far more empathy and kindness than I am, but she’s also volatile – she can be irritable, critical, and quick to anger. Her outbursts cause me anguish. I’m a bit of a slob, whereas she is organized and very particular (I often run afoul of her rules). She was a jock in high school and still plays in a number of different sports leagues; I wouldn’t know which end of the volleyball stick to hold.

These differences in life philosophy bring us to the next problem:

Problem #2: Lack of fun or rewarding activities that we can do together

It’s quite sad, but we have trouble finding activities that we can both truly enjoy.

Jane used to coerce me into attending her games and going out drinking with friends, but she has since given up on it, because I’m always miserable during these outings. Now she goes without me. She likes to go to movies; I enjoy only documentaries (she does not). I like going on camping trips and renting a powerboat; she hates these trips.

Jane expends enormous amounts of time and money doing animal-rescue work. Our finances are strained by these expenditures, and I often get sucked into her projects at the expense of pursuing my own interests. The reason I’m stalled on my programming endeavors (which are very important to me) is that I’m spending so much time helping Jane with her projects. This conflict is a major on-going source of contention between us. Jane always argues that I knew about her priorities right from the start.

We do both enjoy going out on dinner dates, but we do it rarely – maybe once every couple of months. We also enjoy going for nature walks together and taking photographs, but again – we do this maybe once or twice a year. Why don’t we do this more often? I dunno. Hectic schedules, low priority…

I had the idea that maybe we could take some short classes together (photography, vegan cooking), but she hated this idea. She said she’s done with taking classes. She won’t go on MeetUp outings, either.

Current status

I’ve tried to persuade Jane to attend couples counseling, but she absolutely refuses. She claims that a counselor could not possibly provide any insights or solutions. But I think the real reason she doesn’t want to go to counseling is that the status quo favors her, so that any compromises or changes would necessarily involve more sacrifice on her part than on mine. I suppose I could go without her, but I know that doing so would really piss her off.

As it stands now, we go through periods of a week or two when we get along reasonably well, then we’ll have a huge fight that lingers for several days, followed by a week or two of relative détente. This type of cycling is no way to live. And even during our calm phases, we aren’t nearly as close as we used to be.

As I sit here re-reading my essay, I’m disheartened by the sheer magnitude of our problems. A divorce would be messy and would cause huge financial hardships, and neither one of us wants to split up.

I could sure use an outside perspective on this situation.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
As I sit here re-reading my essay, I’m disheartened by the sheer magnitude of our problems. A divorce would be messy and would cause huge financial hardships, and neither one of us wants to split up.

What possible reason is there to stay with this person? It sounds like hell, having to follow her rules and live in fear of making her angry or upset, all while putting your own projects aside to help her.

It honestly sounds like this marriage is dead and you two are just trying to keep it alive based on memory or familiarity. That's no way to live. Divorce may be messy and expensive, but at least you'll be free to be you in the end.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:15 PM on June 21, 2014 [39 favorites]

Be grown ups and divorce, man. Seriously. Just do it.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:17 PM on June 21, 2014 [16 favorites]

I, like you, am mystified by some people's refusal to go to counseling--what can it hurt? But:

I think the real reason she doesn’t want to go to counseling is that the status quo favors her, so that any compromises or changes would necessarily involve more sacrifice on her part than on mine.

You're not going to get very far in counseling with that attitude. Even if you found a counselor to say "Jane is more in the wrong here" (which you won't) do you think that would help?

Maybe consider individual counseling so you have someone to talk to about what your real options are. There are multiple paths forward here, but none of them involve you 'winning' the argument.

Pulling for you both.
posted by _Silky_ at 5:17 PM on June 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

A divorce would be messy and would cause huge financial hardships, and neither one of us wants to split up.

Your current marriage is also messy, causing financial hardships and is making at least one of you, if not both of you, miserable.

In theory, we both want to improve our marriage, but we are not making much progress on our own.

This, I do not believe. Right now it seems like one of you wants to, but the other has dug in her heels and is perfectly happy to let the bus run off into the ditch.

This seems like an unequal partnership, in which Jane seems to be calling the shots and you have to suck it up.

I would be thinking about my future. This is the only life you have, my friend. The only life.

I would be planning my life without Jane.
I would be thinking about having a trial separation.
I would be talking to a counselor or therapist on my own, and I would be looking for a divorce lawyer, because it is coming.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 5:18 PM on June 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

Going to counseling for yourself should not "really piss off" your partner. That is a red flag. It's OK to get mental health help if you feel like you need it, and someone who loves you should be supportive of you trying to better yourself in any way. I say: go ahead and piss her off. Get some individual counseling, because that might really help you unpack some of what's going on with you and how you can build a happy life either around or outside of your marriage to Jane.

Here's what I have to say: I was in one of these cyclical relationships much like you describe. It was awful. That is just too much fighting, at least for me, and the thing that helped me the most was stepping outside of the relationship as much as possible. Doing things outside of the relationship for me gave me the space to recognize how unbelievably toxic my situation actually was (you're welcome to comb through my history here if you'd like to see how bad it got).

Now, it sounds like from what you have written that might be a bit difficult. It was difficult for me, too. That is another red flag: it is important that a marriage or a close intimate relationship support you, not drag you away from yourself. "Jane, I am going to devote the time that I have spent on your projects on my own things now. I really need to do these things to be happy." How will she react? A loving, caring spouse would probably say something like, "Well, I am really going to miss doing that stuff with you. Can we spend one day a month still doing my stuff together? But I really do understand. Your happiness is really important to me and if you need to do those projects I support you wholeheartedly. Maybe I will do your things with you once a month and you'll do my things with me once a month going forward so that we don't lose out on too much 'us time.'"

My ex refused to go to counseling because he said it wouldn't help, either. That's another red flag.

I suggest counseling for you, and time devoted to your hobbies. If either of those things downright scares you because you're afraid of what her reaction will be, that's another indicator to pay attention to. Go to counseling secretly if you must (I did). I think it will be very eye-opening.

Pay attention to yourself and how you feel. Do what makes you feel good and stop doing what makes you feel bad. It sounds like being with Jane makes you feel bad. I will let you push that to its logical conclusion on your own time.

Good luck and I wish you all the best.
posted by sockermom at 5:22 PM on June 21, 2014 [27 favorites]

One thing that has helped my wife an I immensely is counseling around the notion of attachment disorder, and how childhood trauma or lack of attachment can lead to particular relational styles later in life. Basically, these relational styles are our attempt to deal with things that were problematic in our childhood but never found healing.

In general, relational styles break down into one of four categories:

1. Avoider
2. Pleaser
3. Vascillator
4. Controller

Depending on how these three relational styles come into play, it can create a very specific and predictable tension in the house. There are a lot of variables in life, but the human psyche finds predictable ways to cope. This sounds overly simplistic, but understanding why people are they way they are, and how to empathize, can do wonders.

My wife and I read a book on this called How We Love. It's very much overtly in one particular religious tradition, but if you can see beyond this, the truth that underlies it is pretty golden and based on very recent developments in neuroscience and psychology.

The reason I bring this up is because you are a lot like me, and I'm a pleaser/avoider. It sounds very much like your wife falls into the category of vascillator (one of the key characteristics is times of emotional outburst that are cathartic for the person, but leave the rest of the house realing). Just guessing of course, but if you wife wasn't interested in counseling, perhaps some good reading on this topic would be helpful.

Good luck. Although this might not necessarily be the answer for you, I've seen many situations that seemed impossible get resolved by tackling the right problem. It really does pay to not always see divorce as the obvious answer to problems, even when at first glance it seems really, really difficult.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:28 PM on June 21, 2014 [11 favorites]

Agreed with everyone else above but this in particular jumped out at me :

Why don't we do this more often? I dunno. Hectic schedules, low priority...

Well there's your problem. Your priority is your projects. Her priority is saving the puppies. Who the hell's priority is being married?

I get sort of mystified when people can figure out how to fix a marriage or other relationship. Compromise. Compassion. Caring. Pretty easy. Counseling would certainly help but if you want to save things compromise and drive compromise: I'll happily save the puppies and head to the bar with you this weekend. Next weekend let's take the puppies camping and powerboating. If something that simple doesn't work??? Then it's time to move on and if she doesn't see value in counseling then no impartial arbiter will make headway either.
posted by chasles at 5:29 PM on June 21, 2014 [26 favorites]

You sounds full of contempt for her. There's nothing wrong with drinking or going out or spending lots of money on projects she really likes. I can practically feel your anger and annoyance dripping from every word you write here.

Also, you're not required to like the same things. I've been in good long-term relationships in which we never liked each other's things at all. But you have to be nice about it, and you have to like your partner as a person and accept them and their values.

I don't know man, maybe she's really awful but gosh, you sound like a drag. You're messy, she invites you places but you pout the whole time, you want her to give up her passion? On top of that you think she needs too much attention at home, where you just want to ignore her and program? Geez, man. That's kind of harsh. Don't you think you should compromise a little too?
posted by quincunx at 5:30 PM on June 21, 2014 [93 favorites]

You two have conflicts about recreational activities, time spent conversing with each other, household responsibilities, and financial priorities. That's a lot. Do you also have problems related to affection, praising one another, sex, honesty, being attracted to one another, or family matters (not kids, obviously, but relationships with other people you each care about)?

I mean, if things are really amazing in at least some of those other respects, maybe things are at least half OK. If not, then it's well past time to either compromise on a ton of stuff or split. You have some ideas about how to compromise: more dinner dates and more nature walks. That would help with recreational activities. If there's no way to compromise on (for example) finances, maybe you can agree to work on some of the other areas you haven't discussed, perhaps alleviating some of your mutual stress and helping you build your trust, interest, and commitment level back up to make it easier to talk about the harder problems.

But right now, I suspect you're heading toward a split.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:32 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Let me tell you what has worked for my wife and I. We're two pretty different people. She is more outgoing, I'm more reserved; I'm athletic and enjoy sports, she doesn't; while she is outgoing, she doesn't mind spending most nights relaxing at home, while I get cabin fever easily.

You get the idea. We also have pretty big differences. And we also have a situation where we spend lots of time and money on something she enjoys, but something I'm not a big fan of- her pets. If the pets went away, I'd miss them a bit as they're amusing, but I'd be fine with it. She would be shattered.

So our situation, up front, seems pretty similar to yours.

I can't speak to your wife's attitude because we aren't hearing her perspective- just yours, but here is what I have learned that might influence how you try to approach this situation.
But I think the real reason she doesn’t want to go to counseling is that the status quo favors her, so that any compromises or changes would necessarily involve more sacrifice on her part than on mine. I suppose I could go without her, but I know that doing so would really piss her off.
First- good relationships don't involve lots of math and calculating who has given what. To me, it sounds like you are doing lots and lots of math... as in, we spend X hours doing what you like, and X dollars, but only Y dollars doing what I like, et cetera, et cetera. Keeping score rarely does any good, and usually only serves to breed resentment. Sometimes we keep score in our house and that's where our fights start. I keep score about how much money I've spent on vet bills, versus how much I've spent on my own interests... not worth doing, and leads to awful arguments. She keeps score on how well I am doing X, Y, or Z habits around the house versus how often she does them... again, not worth it, as both of us do chip in to handle household chores (and it's not as if any chore is 100% dominated by either person). It's just not a healthy way to go about things and it's something that you might want to think about.

What good does it for you to be keeping score (which you clearly seem to be doing)? Relationships are rarely perfectly equal. Is there a reason you do this, and what can you do to stop it?
Jane used to coerce me into attending her games and going out drinking with friends, but she has since given up on it, because I’m always miserable during these outings. Now she goes without me. She likes to go to movies; I enjoy only documentaries (she does not). I like going on camping trips and renting a powerboat; she hates these trips.
Second- relationships don't get far if people aren't willing to work outside their comfort zone to make their partner happy. It sounds like this is something she could work on too, but start by thinking about yourself? Are you truly always miserable? Have you made an honest effort to engage with your wife and what she likes? My wife and I have different interests. I'm not always all that interested in going to see her movies or going out to the restaurants she enjoys. Sometimes I just stay home and let her go with her friends, but other times, I go along and do my best to have fun, or find something new I can try, or find someone new I can meet. I'm not saying I'm perfect, here, but that's what a good relationship takes. Have you made a proper effort? The way you worded this makes it sound like you haven't given it a proper shot. Nobody wants to spend time with someone who is petulant when they aren't getting to do what they enjoy.
It’s quite sad, but we have trouble finding activities that we can both truly enjoy.
Third- this is something you both have to really work at. In my experience, when people stop working at this, relationships break down. It takes constant effort. Again, I'm not perfect, but every week I'm thinking of things my wife and I can make for dinner together, or shows we can watch, or places we can go check out together. She does the same. Sometimes we get in ruts where we are lazy and we don't make an effort to do this, and every night turns into coming home, eating a fast dinner, and then plopping down onto separate couches on our laptops until bedtime... and this is not a healthy pattern for us. My point is that it takes effort from both of you. Maybe she isn't putting that effort in, either, but start with yourself. Have you tried to do this? Your post makes it sound like you haven't. Everyone has hectic schedules, everyone is busy, everyone has lots of priorities. You just have to make this one of them... and it has to be one of your top priorities, or your relationship will wilt

Best wishes to you both. I really hope you can both go to counseling but I would bet dollars to donuts that these are the issues you're going to be discussing there, at least based on my armchair pop psychology I'm bringing to the table. But maybe thinking about these three things, and what you (not her, YOU) are doing about them, might be a good start.
posted by Old Man McKay at 5:32 PM on June 21, 2014 [33 favorites]

Do you think you've written a fair, balanced account of your marriage? Do you? I read a lot of contempt for her, and a lot of, I'm right, so she must be wrong. If you really want to save your relationship, I'd start with looking deeply at that. Go in with this question: "How can I start loving my wife?"
posted by miles1972 at 5:36 PM on June 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

What would be the optimal outcome? Do you honestly think its achievable?

I respect marriage, and I think if there's something worth saving, you should try. But if finances are the biggest reason to stay....randsom yourself already and get out.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:38 PM on June 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was all set to say that the areas where you agree are less important than the differences you cite (like introvert vs. extrovert and activity priorities), and then I realized that no, couples can have different points of agreement, but the basis of the relationship has to be respect. It does not sound like either of you respect the other. I know she has rejected the idea of couples counseling, but perhaps if you went to her and talked about mutual respect you might have better luck. I am not sure at this point if you all can re-capture that respect, but I would certainly try. Individual counseling is still available to you though, and I would not that discount that, but try to be brutally honest with both yourself (and to the counselor) that you may have different priorities, but that neither is wrong.
posted by dawg-proud at 5:55 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't see what the problem is here. No one is hitting or abusing the other. No one is sleeping around. You've been married for awhile and are not in a rut. Man up and ask your wife on a date. Don't take no for an answer.

You seem a bit passive, as most quiet people are. Women like men who can be forceful when the need arises. The need has arisen.

It is fine to be so different and to spend time doing different things. It is not okay for you to feel like she is pulling you around through life. If that is the case then I can tell you, as a woman, that she isn't enjoying it either. Even the most liberated of women wants the man to drive the car from time to time.

So, to sum up, either piss or get off the pot. Either ask her out for dates and occasionally join her in her interests or move on and leave her for someone who will fight for her.
posted by myselfasme at 6:11 PM on June 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

My partner (of nine years) and I are quite different in a lot of ways, but the thing that we have always shared is a sense of being on the same team: he's on my side, and I'm on his, no matter what. This transcends our conflicts, it transcends our differences in personality and background, it transcends our different interests and hobbies and professional aspirations. It's born of a fundamental sense of mutual respect and empathy.

You don't describe a relationship that appears to have ever had those things, even in the beginning when you at least connected over shared interests. What's more, you speak of her in such a way that borders on contempt (and perhaps you perceive that she views you with contempt, as well), and contempt is considered one of the four horsemen (along with criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling) in a relationship. This is a recent article discussing this idea in depth (Metafilter discussion here).

By all means, go to counseling yourself. If that really does piss her off, that itself is telling you something pretty significant. But if you both want to stay together without being miserable for the rest of your lives, then you're both going to have to stay together for something and not just to avoid the hardship of divorce.
posted by scody at 6:23 PM on June 21, 2014 [32 favorites]

I agree that this is a totally one-sided picture, and that despite the attempt to sound like the reasonable party, OP, in fact you sound like a big part of what's wrong. Turn your descriptions around and you come across as uninterested in her life (you characterize her interests in nearly derisive ways), anti-social, uncommunicative, out of shape, and -- this comes through strongly -- really angry at her. You say not one loving, or even complimentary, thing about her in your entire description. You supposedly share this serious interest in animal rights (and vegan cuisine!), but you'd never guess you had any shared interests at all, or anything to even talk about, or any reason to have friends in common or events you both like attending or reasons to get off your ass and do things together.

And with no kids, I also don't really believe the financial obstacles to a divorce are that serious, nor the moral ones (which you don't mention at all, so presumably you don't feel any commitment to her). No kids means a cakewalk, cheap divorce in most situations, unless one of you is financially dependent on the other.

The really bad news, though, from someone who's been there, is that *after* it's over you will still need to deal with the things that are wrong with you that contributed to the failure of the marriage, even if only to live with yourself (and certainly to live with anyone else). So you might as well start being honest about them now. Perhaps you are depressed (and angry) because you feel trapped in a loveless, time-wasting marriage, and breaking free of that will solve all your problems. But just consider that your marriage may be a reflection, rather than a cause, of your lack of engagement, lack of interest in physical activity, etc.

So in other words, get your own therapy either way, sooner rather than later. And if in fact that "really pisses her off," then definitely call it quits. My guess is you're wrong about that, and if you approached therapy as being about changing yourself into someone more engaged and active and interested in your partner (which I think will entail treating depression, if I read correctly between the lines here), then that will actually be something she will appreciate. If not, she's already gone and you might as well start dividing stuff up.

On edit: what scody said!
posted by spitbull at 6:23 PM on June 21, 2014 [25 favorites]

Seriously, try this. Sit calmly in a quiet place, by yourself. Take a deep breath and imagine yourself being in your middle sixties. You've been doing this type of life/relationship for more than 20 years. Are the memories good? You can't do it over, you've had your chance.
Is this what you want to think back on?
No? Then get off your butt and make YOUR life better, now.
Or are you going to say, 'man, I really blew it'.

Go to counseling. Wife doesn't like it? That's wife's problem, you are doing it for you.
You may decide to stay and change your reaction to events that do not please you now. Remember, you're building memories, building a life, being the real you.

I'm speaking from experience. I left (with 2 children). I've climbed 2 mountains, worked with tigers in a preservation trust, worked with abused teens, did crash reconstruction for the federal government. I've done many things, I haven't stopped doing things. I, now, train dogs for others. Oh and yes, I'm soon to be 70 years old and my favorite pastime is reading.
I was the wife.
Go live, anon, it's ok to be you.
posted by donaken at 6:28 PM on June 21, 2014 [27 favorites]

Also this:

she often accuses me of not listening

It's the key. Are you?
posted by spitbull at 6:30 PM on June 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

Be honest with yourself -- do you want to work on your marriage because you want to honor the commitment you made and you wholeheartedly believe that what you have is worth fighting for, or is it mostly out of fear of the "messiness" and "huge financial hardships" that divorce is going to cause?

If you choose to save your marriage, prepare to work really hard. Prepare to be humble and patient. Prepare to hear her side, with understanding and not cynicism. Those dinner dates and nature walks you both enjoy, schedule them every week. Approach and discuss your differences as partners where the goal is to work through them as a team.

It takes two to tango. Sustaining a marriage requires both of you choosing each other every day for the rest of your lives.

Perhaps you can do your part, in earnest, and see where that leads?

All my best to you.
posted by tackypink at 6:42 PM on June 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

anon, one more example of why my wife and I are pretty happy campers (even if we do have plenty of fights and disagreements... they do happen, in fact we had a hell of a fight a couple weeks ago).

I bought tickets for a concert last night for an amazing guitarist that I love.

Said guitarist legitimately really is probably one of the 10 best in the world- he's incredible, amazingly talented, a genuinely great person, and he creates fantastic music. But, his fanbase in America is largely stinky dredlocked patchouli-ridden baby boomer crystal-buying flute-playing hippies.

I, in my early 30s, was easily the youngest person at the concert in a 300+ concert hall. I, a far left liberal, am still not a stinky dredlocked patchouli-ridden baby boomer crystal-buying flute-playing hippie. Neither is my wife.

My wife came along, even though she's not all that interested in this guy. She enjoyed the music, then waited in line with me for 45 minutes afterward so I could meet my hero and have him sign a couple things for me. Then we went out for a quick bite to eat afterward.

My wife kicks ass. She is incredible. Last night she really made an effort. She didn't give a crap about the concert- I know she would've been happier laying on the bed watching Doctor Who. She was doing me a favor by coming along. Still, I will always remember the concert and getting to meet my hero. And man, do I appreciate her effort. She came along, smiled, had a good time, took pictures for me, tried to enjoy herself, had a nice quick dinner, and made it a great evening for me.

Again, me and my wife are not perfect. We fight like hell sometimes. I can't even count the number of times we've pissed each other off by doing dumb stuff or being petty or mean or rude. It happens, we're human.

But are you or your wife making those kinds of efforts for each other? Or, just forget your wife for a moment, are you making those kinds of efforts for her? Do you care enough to do that? Have you tuned out? If so, why? (I've had moments where I've tuned out, too. That doesn't make you some sort of evil-doer. It's just something to overcome.)

(Apologies for any typos. I've had a couple too many pours of rum this evening. I'm also an editor for a living... so despite a quality buzz, I doubt there are any typos this time, and I am obsessing over the couple typos I left in my first post. I really do hope you guys can work it out. No relationship avoids these kinds of rough patches.)
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:19 PM on June 21, 2014 [29 favorites]

neither one of us wants to split up.
This is actually a different beast than "we want to stay married to each other." Do you?
posted by sm1tten at 7:33 PM on June 21, 2014 [13 favorites]

I just want to chime in here to say: in my limited experience, love waxes and wanes. I believe that that is a natural occurrence. If you WANT to, you can try to resuscitate it, but it will need to be an active decision on your part. It makes sense to me to frame as such: do you want to open your heart to your wife? Do you want to be in love with her still/again? (She, of course, needs to be asking herself the same questions about you. And you both need to come up with the same answer.) There is ACTION and WILL in those statements. Your heart CAN be open to her again, but you will have to work on it. The result, I believe, can be genuine, true love, the evolution of what brought you two together in the first place - not the same thing, 'cuz honeymoons end, but something related and, I would hope, better - at least because it is more mature and informed.

But you aren't OBLIGATED to follow that path (I didn't) - you'll be okay, and you'll quite possibly find love again in your life.

I guess my point is to warn you to not confuse the natural contractions and expansions of love with the death of love. They may share similar characteristics, but they aren't the same. It's not clear to me which of these you are experiencing (or if it's something else altogether), but maybe it's worth trying to distinguish between the two.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:16 PM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound to me like you are trying to pin the blame for your relationship problems on Jane. It sounds like you have tried to paint an honest portrayal of the way your issues usually play out.

I wonder if you are just recently acknowledging these problems? If so, I give you some props. As they say, acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. What they don't say, though, is that acknowledging problems is also the first step to an entrenched battle. Once the acknowledgement is out in the open, "we just don't have much in common" and "we've been having problems for years" could become all-purpose excuses for every action one of you takes that is detrimental to the relationship. You are standing at a crossroads and now is the time to make a decision on which way you want to go.

There is no correct answer or regret-free path by the way. Ever, for anyone. There's just decisions you consciously make, decisions you make by consciously refusing to make a decision, and their respective consequences.

I encourage you to sit down by yourself and write the positive counterpart to your post: what do you like about her, and about your relationship? If you decide you want to make the relationship work, do this every day. Also, make a point of saying the positives to her. I think that once you're really making an effort to treat her well, you'll also feel less guilty about treating yourself well (e.g. secluding yourself to work on a programming project--incidentally one of my favourite activities, so I totally get the appeal and I know how impossible it is to engage in any sort of human interaction when you're in that zone.)

Another concrete suggestion: massage. It's a way to really focus on your partner's desires and happiness--on giving to her. And then you switch, and you get to focus on just enjoying her and the relationship.

Good luck!
posted by mantecol at 8:29 PM on June 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

You are clearly a person who is trying everything before giving up. That is admirable.

She has made it clear she won't change and won't try to meet you even halfway. Can you live with her as she is forever? Will you be happy, content this way? If not, get out.

Counseling for yourself is a great idea. Go see a lawyer, too. I bet a divorce and any financial issues are not as bad as giving up the entire rest of your life to living in this unhappy mess.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:34 PM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

You seem like a logical person, so here's one way apply some rigor to your situation.

You have four decisions open to you right now:

1) Keep muddling through through this marriage miserably
2) Really try to change things based on the advice you gather here and elsewhere
3) Get counseling for yourself
4) Get divorced

Option 1 doesn't seem sustainable. It really isn't an option in the end. It will lead to divorce.

Option 2 may work, but from my outside perspective, I believe your marriage's problems are too intractable. I wouldn't give it great odds. The marriage will likely end up in divorce.

Option 3 could help you apply the advice in Option 2 and give it a better chance of working, or even if you take Option 4, counseling would help you with the trauma of the break up. To me Option 3 seems to be the soundest course of action.

If going to counseling gets Jane mad, so what? Let that be her problem. Option 4 would get her really mad too, so what's the difference?
posted by Leontine at 9:02 PM on June 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sounds like you have an awesome partner there, outgoing, sharp, motivated. Perhaps you should start noticing the excellent things going on in your life rather than looking for the awful ones. Your brain creates your reality you know, it really does. The things you tell yourself, the narratives you create, internalize them over and over and it will build a habitual circuit of resentment and anger feeding back to you from whomever it's aimed at. There's no magical world out there waiting to love you for your your real self. Only you can do that.

Start by noticing all the awesome things around you right now, including your wife and build from there.Take it a bit at a time, a thought at a time. If you flip enough of the negative switches to positive internally and in the moment to moment behavior that is a reflection of that, your life takes on a whole new shine. It doesn't mean your partner is going to change, it just means you won't be in an endless loop of self-defeating emotional resentment about what simply is.

Maybe your partner is right about not wanting to do counseling. Can a third party really heal a relationship that only the individuals in it can do for themselves? Those characters in your personal drama are only a reflection of how you relate to the world. Start fixing that by basking in your own awesomeness, and the rest will take care of itself.
posted by diode at 9:12 PM on June 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Go to therapy alone. Even if you go to psychotherapy alone your marriage will change. Anytime one person changes in a two-person system the relationship is altered. Focus on what you can change and accept within. Then with time you'll learn enough to see if this is a healthy marriage, for you. Good luck.
posted by Lil Bit of Pepper at 10:41 PM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Okay, so you refuse to officially split up because of the money. So why don't you just both declare your romantic relationship over with and just be roommates? It sounds like you two are just not very compatible and she's not willing to try any more. She sounds frustrated with you and you are with her. I don't really see what's there to save beyond the fact that you're currently legally bound together.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:10 PM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another thing I wonder, since you mention that you are reserved and have a preference for sedentary activities: do you have healthy means of physical and emotional release?

It could be that your fights with Jane are performing the critical function for you of providing an emotional (hopefully not physical) release. This might be contributing to keeping you stuck in the cycle you mention, since in a twisted way, you get some benefit out of it.

I suggest talking things over (journal, counselor, friends, her) before they reach a boiling point. But be careful about what you say to her: once said, you cannot unsay it. Sincere apologies go a long way, though. Find a way to bring some zen to your life, to let go of the little things, and the things you cannot change. Make sure you are eating right, sleeping right, and exercising. You don't have to drive far to go for a walk: explore your own neighborhood! Make a little extra effort to clean up. A clean living environment has a way of lifting spirits. Go out with her and her friends (or her and your friends), and laugh. If you feel you are about to blow up at her, politely excuse yourself. Emotions cool off a lot faster than fights. No need to hunker down and battle it out. If it's a persistent problem, wait to discuss it when you are both in a calmer frame of mind. And finally, I realize that all of this is easier said than done. If you decide to make things work with her, then also commit to the process of improving the relationship.
posted by mantecol at 11:30 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

A number of posters have brought up the fact that you may not always be listening to your wife. However, as an introvert it will be extremely difficult for you to always have to be "on" for your wife if she needs constant attention and is constantly talking to you when at home. You sound like a man who is desperately in need of some downtime where you can relax and also focus and work quietly on the things that interest you. I don't think that's much to ask, personally. I don't think its fair for you to have to stop doing the things you enjoy in order to constantly pay attention to your wife because she is always talking and you can't get any peace. And then you get blamed for not listening.

While of course spending time together is important, it sounds like the balance isn't right here. And I hate to use that cliche but you need to spend more "quality time" together on planned activities.

Can you agree a generous budget for her to do her animal rescue work, and also ask for a budget for yourself consisting of uninterrupted time rather than money for you to do what you like with? But then also plan dinners out at least once a week (doesn't have to be at an expensive place or can even be for just coffee if dinner is too pricey) where you sit and talk with and focus just on each other? And it's summer now so can you go for walks on the weekends together? Make the time to plan these things.

It sounds like you can both get what you need from this relationship if you're both able to compromise and put in the effort. Good luck.
posted by hazyjane at 12:05 AM on June 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm a lot like you -- programmer, slob, documentary preferer -- but I've definitely been in the place of your wife in a relationship with someone very much like you, one based on a few matching interests, but devoid of others.

Armed with a big dose of "oh, gosh darn it, patriarchy and rigid notions of manhood," I invite you to read the following things that I have felt, pertinent to your situation:

"Ok, first of all, I can outdrink him. What kind of man is that? He can't accompany me to parties, play the straight man when I tell funny stories, look nice on my arm in the presence of my friends as the trophy that shows how good I was at being a woman."

Now, the logical conclusion:

"Ok, but what does he do? He can make websites to help people adopt puppies. He has money. Building and providing are masculine, right? If I can't have him at my side in social situations, at least I can point to the work he's done for these causes, and get my social capital that way. Yes -- I'll draw on those even more heavily, since he obstinately refuses to provide in the other ways."

There are at least two positions you can take:

The one of 'taking':

What's the actual financial advantage for you, in being with her? A tax break of a few thousand? Is it important for you, socially, to be married? Wouldn't it be nice to be a little poorer (you still have your salary, right), but to have all the time in the world to work on your own projects? You're male, so you get better with age, and you can try to find someone new who likes doing the same things you do. (but this will take time out of side projects.)

The one of 'giving':

What's the cost of you showing up for drinks with her friends happily, willingly, charismatically, just once a month, and also went for a dinner date once a month? Fake your enjoyment (get a virgin Cuba Libre) at the onset because you value your wife. Make time for the latter because you value your relationship.

Don't see this transactionally, but if you give more on these fronts, you might be less pressured into giving of your project time. If you give more on these fronts -- i.e. she sees that you are willing to meet her halfway, and does the same for you, you might even experience relationship growth.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:10 AM on June 22, 2014

If you're not both going to work at this relationship, it's not going to work. Sit down with Jane and ask her how she wants to work at the relationship. What is she going to do to make it work better? Then tell her what you're going to do to make it work better. Or maybe open with that, so she can see you're pulling your weight.

Also, think about why you want this relationship to continue. Tell her why you want it to continue - you love her, you enjoy spending time with her, you admire her passion, etc. Ask her why she wants it to continue too.

Basically, find the common ground between you. The fact that she refuses to see a relationship counsellor stood out to me. These people are trained in fixing relationships. Why does she believe that talking to someone like that could not possibly help? Ask her that, and see what she says. Maybe she has experience of dealing with such people and it went badly. There must be something that she's basing that belief on. The fact that she would be very annoyed at you getting some help to fix your relationship with her is in the top five of Red Flags, in my opinion. That's heading towards weirdness.

If you can't agree on steps to take to make this better, then your relationship is doomed. Or, more specifically, you might well end up staying together until the day one of you dies, both behaving like this. Is that really what you want for the rest of your lives? One of you is going to have to do something to change things. If the other of you isn't prepared to come along for the ride, then they're just going to get left behind.
posted by Solomon at 2:09 AM on June 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

I was struck by the fact that you don't mention love anywhere in your description of the situation. Do you still love her (assuming you ever did), and does she still love you? You both deserve that, as well as respect, appreciation, and all those other good things, from your partner. If you are no longer interested in providing those for each other, or in getting back to a place where you are interested in doing so, it might be time to end the marriage for both your sakes.

I'd suggest going to individual therapy to help you get a sense of what your priorities and options are. If you frame it as something you are doing for yourself, rather than "I'm going to couples counseling alone," (which is a different thing), perhaps she will be less threatened. And frankly, even if your taking steps to address your unhappiness does bother her, that's her problem. Ultimately, even in an intimate relationship, you are each responsible for yourselves.
posted by rpfields at 2:57 AM on June 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

It may be your relationship has reached the stage where in some ways the two of you are like siblings, rather than lovers. Oh course you love each other and want what's best for each other - but damnnit, if she interrupts you one more time you will annihilate her because she is the Worlds Worst Pest!! You are still committed and still assuming that nothing can break the bond but you are developing in different directions than when the relationship started and are ready to fight over little things, so you are not very compatible.

It's not what you do together -special dinner dates, for example - but how you relate on an average evening after you have both crawled home from work. Of course you would donate a kidney to her, but your need for concentration is going painfully unmet and running up against her need to feel connected.

I am going to propose that you make this Monday evening your special date night. Stay home and do the usual chores and pastimes. But stop trying to do two things at once. When you are coding you need to not be in social mode, and when you are not coding you need to be focused on actively loving your wife.

Figure out what time is reasonable in your schedule - say coding from eight to nine-thirty and notify her that since you will be working on a particularly tricky piece of code you would like her to please not talk to you for that entire hour and a half. And then spend the rest of the evening right up until eight thirty actively listening to her, giving her eye contact, loving touches and so on.

Love is an active verb, as many a self-help book has acknowledged. You are not actively loving your wife. Rather than taking delight in the way she is different from you, you are describing it like it is a problem. But, you know, if she were another guy you would probably be complaining that the sexual spark just isn't there because your partner is too much like you. You don't want her to be like you, really you don't.

I'm in the camp that says if your wife doesn't want to go for counseling you probably shouldn't push it. That's because most couples who go for couples counseling break up. Counseling turns into that session where they both finally unburden themselves to a third person and the aftermath of stuffing the cat back into the bag can feel like settling foolishly for what has already been described as untenable. Jane could easily be refusing to go for counseling because the level of unloved she feels is such that she doesn't want to go for fear she will say something that there will be no taking back. The fact that she doesn't want to go for counseling and does want to stay married says something about her commitment to the marriage which is a positive sign.

You can't change what Jane does but you can work actively to address her apparent feelings of being ignored and disconnected. You can go more than half way towards reconnecting with her. I'm not saying this is fair to you... but it's something within your power where getting her to change is not.

It sounds like you currently spend all your time trying to escape from her into your coding while she spends all her time trying to get your attention...

Look for a pattern in the huge fights. Do they happen on Friday, at the end of the week when you are too drained to pay any attention to anything, so she escalates to yelling to get your attention? Do they happen when you have found yourself making a huge time and money commitment to something you don't care about and the resentment boils over? There is probably a pattern to the periodic fights. Rather than "I said, she said..." analysis look at the pattern on the outside of the fight - hormonal cycles, work schedule cycles, financial cycles.

At one point I was fighting with my husband regularly because he would unpredictably get all nasty and surly and my feeling would be hurt and I would fight back. When I figured out that his periods of cranky unkindness invariably were followed by him coming down with a recurring sinus infection I figured out that his irritability was a symptom of him labouring to breathe. It became quite easy to get the perspective to withdraw from the bait of him snapping at me and not take it personally. I could easily withdraw from his periphery so I didn't get snarled at and not take offense that it was a bad time because I knew once he could breathe again he would stop acting like a jerk.

The animal-rescue endeavors that strain your finances could be negotiated by backing off and looking at it as a dollars and cents issue. Make a budget. We have x dollars coming in. We need y dollars for the mortgage and for groceries. That leaves z dollars. You each get to decide what to do with z/2 dollars. It doesn't matter if both of you think the other one is heartless/improvident/selfish/dumb about how you spend your share. Ideally you both respect each other enough to allow personal decisions. If you respect your wife you will not condemn her for making the endangered animal now priority over the investment for later and if she respects you she will not condemn you for buying the tech toy that delights your heart instead of contributing to animal welfare.

Remember please, that there is no right and no wrong in your spending decisions. Supposing you convinced her that one quarter of your income should be put away into savings for your old age and future retirement. Sensible, right? Unarguably sensible! But you could both get killed in the same car accident and the money which might have saved over a thousand dogs end up stuck in banking limbo forever because the nephew who inherited it doesn't have the financial ability to pry it lose from the bank. Similarly, you could spend all your resources saving dogs' lives and end up in penury, living out of your car because you didn't have savings. There is no absolute answer. The object of the negotiation would be to come to a predictable equilibrium that you are both happy with.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:03 AM on June 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

It’s quite sad, but we have trouble finding activities that we can both truly enjoy.

You were "coerced" into attending her games. Did she hold a gun on you? But you got even and made your obviously unhappy presence enough of a reason for her to stop doing this.

I'm not saying you plotted this out like a programmer but you're the kind of person who prefers not to assert himself and unconsciously tends toward the passive aggressive. Even the idea of counseling is an attempt to get some authoritative outsider to assert your point of view for you and Jane suspects this.

Unlike the others who tell you to divorce, I believe that the problem is mainly in you and is ultimately about you coming to terms with your passivity, disguised as cooperation. You need some therapy for yourself so you can give up on seeking justice when what you really need is love.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:13 AM on June 22, 2014 [18 favorites]

I suggest a read of Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change.

The materials in this book and online free classes from Smart are applicable to a wide variety of situations, not just substance abuse.
posted by egk at 6:58 AM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

As it stands now, we go through periods of a week or two when we get along reasonably well, then we’ll have a huge fight that lingers for several days, followed by a week or two of relative détente. This type of cycling is no way to live. And even during our calm phases, we aren’t nearly as close as we used to be.

This marriage is over. Have an adult conversation (maybe using Miko's script) and figure out how to part amicably before it gets worse.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:43 AM on June 22, 2014

It sounds like you are trying to please her, while she has no intention or interest in pleasing you. She sounds awful, and it sounds like you are stuck in a cycle of giving in to her and then resenting her for ignoring what you want. She is a taker. There is no rule in the universe that says you have to give to her.

posted by Willie0248 at 8:27 AM on June 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

I suppose I could go without her, but I know that doing so would really piss her off.

So effin' what if she's pissed off? Why, because of the expense? I assume you're working and can cover it. How about the real reason--she's afraid you might learn something about yourself.

Get thee to counseling. Figure out what you want. It could be to stay. It could be to go. You don't know right now. But you better figure it out, because as mentioned above, do you want this to be the rest of your life?
posted by BlueHorse at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

How I got divorced: I decided to change my own behavior. The last summer together, I planned camping trips that we enjoyed. I got stuff done in the house. Most of all, I stopped fighting, just said "Let's discuss it tomorrow, when we're calmer" or otherwise disengaged from our pattern of fighting. I also stopped doing some of the things that really annoyed me, like assuming all the financial responsibility. After a few months of this, he left. We went to a really good therapist for a year, and I realized that I couldn't be married to him, that the marriage was incredibly destructive to me.

My advice - be kind to your spouse. Plan and do the things you enjoy, like going out out dinner. Disengage from things you dislike, like spending more that you want. Think of the things that made you want to be married, and try to return to ways of being together that you enjoy. Lots of marriages have partners who are very different, but love each other and value being together. By being the best partner you can be, your partner will either respond in kind, or not. Either way, your decision will be apparent to you.
posted by theora55 at 11:13 AM on June 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted; please keep answers constructive.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:33 PM on June 22, 2014

You can't go into counseling with guiding idea that your wife is wrong and the counselor is the third party that's going to tell you this and vindicate you.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:45 PM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looking over the comments, I think the extroverts in the crowd have sympathy for your wife, and the introverts feel more kinship with you. Go figure.

I'm certainly not an extrovert, and your essay reads to me like you are letting yourself be bullied. You have to demand your half of the time and money. Like most troubled marriages, this one has a big component of bad communication. Planning and budgeting are great communication tools. You should be able to mark out "me time" on the calendar for your programming projects, and she should have a time and dollar budget for her own favorite activities.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:33 PM on June 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's what jumped out at me: she likes current affairs, and you don't, but you like documentaries, and she doesn't. A lot of (maybe most?) documentaries are about current affairs. So could you enjoy watching those types of documentaries together? Things like Frontline?

I'd be hesitant to follow the "divorce now" advice from the quick-to-divorce-vows-be-damned crowd if that's not you. There's nothing wrong with being someone who likes to try to hold things together and be responsible about commitments. You are not less of a man for being that way. In fact, some would consider you to be more of a man for being that way.
posted by Dansaman at 7:42 PM on June 22, 2014

Mod note: From the OP:
Thanks go out to everyone who replied. I'm hugely impressed with all the helpful comments and suggestions. The diversity of viewpoints has provided me with a lot of material to think about, and I intend to continue reading and re-reading this thread as I formulate a plan of action.

As an anonymous poster, I don't have the ability to mark specific posts as being "Most helpful", but I'd like to state the Old Man McKay's two posts resonated with me the most. I love the story about the guitar player, and I will strive towards having that type of relationship with my wife.

I was also impressed with Chasles's observation: "Well there's your problem. Your priority is your projects. Her priority is saving the puppies. Who the hell's priority is being married?" This is a concise and clever way of summarizing the situation, and it's the only reply that made me chuckle.

Honorable mention goes to the following posters, whose observations gave me hope: theora55, Jane the Brown, sockermom, chasles, fingers of fire, hazyjane, and mantecol (especially mantecol's first post).

At this point, I'm not considering divorce, and I'm cautiously optimistic that the marriage can be saved. I will act upon the advice I received here.

Thanks again to everyone.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:53 AM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing the previous people who pointed out that marriage counseling is not about have your viewpoint validated and delivered to your spouse by someone else. The goal of counseling is for the two of you to learn to communicate more effectively and learn to compromise. BOTH of you.

You do sound passive aggressive, and I am guessing that this sparks more animosity with your wife than you realize because SHE CAN TELL, even if you convince yourself that your motives are innocent and pure. It might be a good idea to look at the real motivations behind your words and actions and really be honest with yourself.

I am going to suggest that you look into non-violent communication as a tool to talk with your wife in a way that won't escalate. The best part is that NVC works even when only one of you is using it. Hopefully if you start using these techniques she might be interested as well.

Good luck!
posted by ananci at 10:33 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just tossing this in to the mix:

It’s quite sad, but we have trouble finding activities that we can both truly enjoy.

I think you will get about 80% of the way if you both start doing things you "don't like" just because you know your partner likes it. Get over yourself, take a couple hours out of your week and take part in something your partner cares about and do everything you can to make it enjoyable for THEM. (Pouting, grumping, being visibly unhappy during a "for them" activity is worse than if you never did it in the first place. No duh your wife stopped inviting you to do things with you if you just act miserable and grump the whole time. Seriously, if you agree to go/take part then you are also agreeing to not ruin it for the other person.) Both of you need to start doing things for the soul purpose of making the other happy.

For example, my husband likes NASCAR. He really wanted to watch some NASCAR races, where I thought they were possibly the stupidest things ever. People driving in circles... big whoop! It held about as much interest for me as a pap test. BUT! I love my husband, and I knew that spending a couple hours every so often watching a race with him would make him very happy. So, I agreed to watch the Daytona 500 with him. Not only that, because I love him and because I wanted to be able to try to engage with him during the stupid race and not be totally miserable the whole time, I made a point of learning some about NASCAR. I also asked him to try to give me a broad-strokes explanation about NASCAR-y things so that I would understand better. He was so pleased that I was trying that he prepared for me little summaries of the kinds of things for me to look for, explaining things, pointing out broad strokes strategies and stuff. By the time the Daytona 500 rolled around I had a rough sense of what was going on, I chose a driver at random to cheer for (Greg Biffle, because Biffle is a funny last name), and I made a point of trying to enjoy it. Not for me, not for NASCAR, but for my husband. If I pouted and grumped through it that would have ruined it for him. I agreed to watch, so I owed it to him to not ruin it for him. And after all, spending a few hours watching a race isn't going to kill me. Small sacrifice on my end, but meant a lot for my husband. And during the race he let me ask lots of questions and would explain things to me so that I never felt lost.

Fast foward 3 years later, I'm now a huge (but closeted) NASCAR fan, we watch the Sprint Cup races every week (even watch the Nationwide and truck series series sometimes too!), I know all about the different drivers, I know a LOT more about cars than I ever did, I know about drive shafts and wedge adjustments and tire pressure changes. Because I made an effort for HIM I have actually learned to really enjoy watching it, and it is something we (secretly) enjoy together. HIS interest has become OUR interest, all because I took the effort to try to make it fun for him.

Not to make myself come off like a saint or something, my husband does stuff like this for me all the time too. Yarn and knitting is a big one. I have taken up knitting and am really really enjoying it. I get really excited with new yarns and like looking at new knitting patterns. (I actually knit during the NASCAR races we watch!) My husband.... yeah, doesn't really get the appeal of knitting. BUT! He listens when I talk about the troubles I am having with some pattern. He has made a point of paying attention and learning the lingo (knit, purl, cast on, frog, tink, etc), he comments on the progress I am making on my various projects, he even comments on the even-ness of my stitches. AND he sometimes surprises me by taking me to fancy yarn shops to get fun new yarns. He does all this because he knows it matters to ME and makes ME happy. And when I was going through a really difficult emotional time he would stay up late and sit beside me while I knit until I was "done" because he knew knitting was the only thing that was keeping me from totally losing it.

So you and your wife need to start doing things because it matters to the other person, and do your best to engage and make sure you make it meaningful and good for the other person, even if it means pretending to have fun for a couple of hours.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:56 AM on June 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

When I was 26, I was dating a guy who was into kiteboarding. I loved him, and that love transferred into kiteboarding. Before I knew it, I was having a great time and planning trips by myself. After we broke up, I remembered that I effing hate kiteboarding. I don't like all that equipment and I'm not good at it anyway.

Point being - there was a time in there where I could enjoy an activity because I loved the person I was doing it with. Picture yourself as a teenager in the summer who's girlfriend is into weightlifting at the gym, and you are super in love with her, and you get into it and join her. Maybe you can find that feeling with your wife.

Also, I've been dragged to stupid artsy movies with friends, and I always (always!!) saw the world in a new way, got a new perspective, or had some great moments of surprising enjoyment by being there. Always without fail. If you open your heart to new stuff because a) you love the person, and b) you will get something out of it, you might have better luck.

That all being said -- I had a friend who was an extrovert who was needy and didn't give a fuck about me. I could have gone to her activities but it would've been a bottomless pit of giving and never receiving. Again and again. So with great sadness, I distanced myself from that one.

If you don't doubt your wife's deep and abiding love, care, and concern for you, and that you're on the same team, you can probably find ways to open yourself up to more activities. But if it's a fundamental problem of respect, I don't know...
posted by htid at 10:16 AM on June 24, 2014

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