Help me fix my life and marriage.
July 10, 2018 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me fix my life and marriage. Please help me prioritize the interconnected problems in my life so I can go back to being happy.

I need help, I know that much. I feel like my life is a mess but I'm not really sure what to do or how to go about it because it is very boring yet very complicated, and all my problems are connected. God bless any of you kind souls who get through this whole post and I apologize if this isn't right for Ask MeFi.

I need some advice because I don't have many friends, and I just don't have anyone in my life I can vent to about this. This is problem #1. I don't have many friends and I live in a really rural area. It's just so hard to meet anyone. Plus I'm a little introverted which complicates things. I feel lonely a lot of the time.

I'm a woman in her mid thirties who is married for six years to a pretty good guy, also mid thirties. We have an amazing toddler and are both in similar professions. Money isn't great, but our bills are paid. Like most marriages encounter at one point or another, we are in a definite rut. We are not having regular sex and when we do it's just so boring and it feels like a chore. Please be aware I'm not blaming this on him alone. I am definitely part of the problem. Terrible sex life is problem #2.

Which leads into the fact that I just feel like I get very little attention from him. We are together a lot but something just feels off. We don't fight much, but there isn't much eye contact or flirting. Life just revolves around our child, running errands, and surviving. He seems miserable a lot but when I try to get information from him he just says nothing is wrong and why am I always saying he looks like something is wrong. He is not affectionate at all. I try occasionally to hug him or initiate physical contact, but admittedly I'm sure it's not enough. He never sits near me on the couch or puts his arm around me. I'm trying not to sound like the victim. I don't want to make it sound like this is all him.

I bring these concerns up and he says I don't seem interested in him. And I try to point out things I have done to try to be affectionate and he just kind of turns it around and says he does the same things. But I really don't feel that he does. He just counters all my concerns saying I do the same thing. Our conversations about our marriage are never productive, but we usually just move on and return to life as normal.

In two recent fights, he accused me of being obsessed with work which really surprised me. As I mentioned before we are in similar professions. I am (mostly) happy and fulfilled with my work and he is not. He often says entering this field was one of the biggest mistakes of his life. This is one area where I am going to stick up for myself. I really feel that I have a healthy relationship with work and I like talking about ideas I have or projects I have going on with him, and he recently told me he doesn't really care to hear any of that, which upset me. I guess I talk about it more than I realized, but I really don't consider myself obsessed. I keep very normal hours and I love the weekend and vacation days like he does.

Another possibly related issue is I have a male friend at work. I assure you there is NOTHING going on between us and all our conversations are professional or about TV. We do not talk excessively. I have literally NEVER seen him outside of work and the only occasional texts we exchange (two per week tops) are work related. No one at work thinks we have a weird relationship. This male friend had some very serious health and family issues over the past few years and I guess I would tell my husband about them. He recently accused me of being obsessed with this male friend. No matter what I said he would not believe me and said he doesn't want to hear about it at all.

My husband says his issue with my work friend stems to the fact that my boyfriend before my husband was someone I worked with. This relationship completely ended a full year before I met my husband. I lived with this person and neglected to tell my husband this until well into our relationship when my husband (then boyfriend) were initially discussing living together. My husband was very hurt by this and says I deceived him. It still gets brought up today. I never lied, but I just never brought it up. He continues to have issues with this and says that is why he does not like me having a male friend at work.

And finally, all of this, my loneliness, my feelings of being neglected, my feelings of being misunderstood, and of course my pathetic sex life, has lead to be being prone to becoming infatuated with men outside my marriage. The most serious of which is one of my husband's friends. He just pays attention when I talk, makes eye contact, he's not overly flirty and I have no reason to think he likes me in return. I'm certain he doesn't. But i'm physically attracted to him and I just love talking to him. I would never act on these feelings and never have in the past. But my god, I create scenarios in my head about him and I. I look forward to retreating into this fantasies entirely too much. AND THEY ARE BORING. Cuddling! Holding hands! Having intense conversations! It's PG 13 AT THE WORST. Like even my fantasies are kind of pathetic. (kidding) All in all, the common theme in these fantasies is that the person wants to be with me and is very open about being attracted to me physically and as an actual human being. Which might actually be more concerning than sex fantasies.

I'm just sad. I totally get why romance novels exist now. This can't be it for me. This can't be my life. I just want someone to put their arm around me and kiss me like they mean it. To be genuinely interested in things I say. To respect me and my work. To have a fun conversation once in a while.

It seems ridiculous to throw away a marriage because of these things. Has anyone ever experienced success in marriage counseling? Are these things that could even be fixed? How would I get over the fact that I need a professional therapist to get my husband to act like he loves me?? I do love my husband and I would be lost without him, but these nagging feelings are manifesting themselves in really unhealthy ways.

Your thoughts, help, advice, pep talks, tough love are all welcome here.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It doesn't sound like your husband is willing to do his share of the emotional work. When you bring up issues he tries to turn it around on you rather than working together as a team to solve the problems. Marriage counseling is only going to help if he really wants to devote real effort to it. If you drag him unwillingly, or if he is trying to half-ass it, it won't help.

Relatedly, it sounds like maybe *he* is depressed. Would he be willing to see a counselor on his own?

I encourage you, in addition to thinking about your marriage, to spend some time taking care of yourself. Having a toddler and working and having a partner who's not really there for you is an exhausting combination. Take time on your own, out of the house, to do something you enjoy, whether it's a hobby or a long walk or just driving into town for an ice cream cone. Clear your head, don't worry about all your problems and responsibilities for a time, and come back to them with a fresh perspective.
posted by mai at 11:51 AM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

It seems ridiculous to throw away a marriage because of these things.
I wish you the best. I have little useful advice to give. But, I'd argue that choosing to stop doing a thing because it doesn't currently make you happy is a perfectly valid reason."

With the caveat that I'm a random person online who doesn't actually know you or your spouse, this sounds pretty awful. There are people in this world so fantastic that it's worth putting up with them being actively jealous of your career and banging on about someone you dated before meeting them; but that's a *very* high bar. The question to ask isn't, "am I being unreasonable," but rather, "is this asshole worth it?" (The answer could well be yes.)
posted by eotvos at 11:56 AM on July 10, 2018 [16 favorites]

It sounds like if you solve problem #1 (the lack of close friends nearby), the issues with infatuation with other men will likely resolve themselves. You just need someone to talk to, and you need to feel heard. I would focus on that, and see if your husband perks up a bit.
posted by luckdragon at 11:57 AM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

" I don't want to make it sound like this is all him. "

But maybe it is all him.

Women generally need to feel cared for at least on some level in order to get sexually excited. I haven't read anything here that suggests there's anything you can do to fix this- You've tried talking to him and he doesn't seem to want to acknowledge your feelings. If you can't do anything to fix it then it may well just be all him. Not saying you should play the blame game and tell him it's all his fault etc- that's not the way to go. But still don't make yourself the victim by feeling guilty when you don't even know what you're doing to deserve it. One of the most frustrating things to realize in life is that it doesn't matter how much you put into a relationship if the other person doesn't want to put anything in. In the end, the person who puts nothing in will have the final say of where the relationship is headed regardless of what you do to try to save things.
posted by fantasticness at 11:57 AM on July 10, 2018 [27 favorites]

Your husband seems to be sulking because you enjoy your work and he doesn't. He's jealous of your co-worker for no good reason. He insists you've "deceived" him by not telling him your ex-boyfriend was one of your co-workers, and he keeps bringing it up over and over again. He doesn't give you an even basic level of affection, and rejects your attempts to do so.

You can't make him do what you want or be who you need to be, and if he doesn't want to do that on his own, it does not bode well for your relationship. I've been there. I'm sorry.
posted by all the light we cannot see at 12:01 PM on July 10, 2018 [17 favorites]

Not wanting to assume it's all him is commendable, but this sounds an awful lot like your husband is just deeply unhappy with his life for reasons unrelated to anything you've done - maybe because he hates his job, maybe he's just clinically depressed and that's what's causing him to hate his job - and is taking it out on you.

I think he needs solo therapy, but maybe starting with marriage counseling might help him realize that.
posted by waffleriot at 12:13 PM on July 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

Ok right, so I read the first half of your question and I think very little sex and a man distracted because he frustrated with work PLUS a toddler- well I think that can be really normal. I love my husband, he’s the one for me and we adore each other but we aren’t kissing and holding hands on the sofa in the evenings, it’s a little sad I guess but I think when the children are older we’ll feel a little more energy... HOWEVER I still feel we are emotionally intimate and great friends- so maybe that can be a data point where your situation perhaps departs from normal to “not right.”
posted by catspajammies at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think he probably thinks you're having an affair, and IME it's really hard to convince people otherwise when they've gone down this mental path, whether or not their suspicions are unfounded. Couples therapy can help but he has to want to be there, and want to work on the marriage.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

Ps- I read the whole question- the first part resonated with me and the second part sounded much more complicated and sad.
posted by catspajammies at 12:17 PM on July 10, 2018

I'd go to him during a quiet time, when things are not already tense and say something along the lines of

"I'm not happy with how our marriage is going, but I would be lost without you, and I want to do some work and make some changes that will allow me to be happy with our marriage. Are you interested in helping me make those changes and do that work? I'm not sure yet what that work will be, or what those changes will be, but I'd like to investigate marriage counseling, so that we can have some productive discussions about what we can do differently going forward. Does that sound good?"

If the phrase "not happy with our marriage" does not light a fire under him to work with you to make things better, I would start thinking seriously about whether the status quo is going to work for you long term.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:17 PM on July 10, 2018 [42 favorites]

He sounds like black hole. Withholding affection, sucking the joy out of your enthusiasm for work, being jealous of your co-worker. What are his redeeming qualities?
posted by feste at 12:23 PM on July 10, 2018 [9 favorites]

I was in a similarly feeling marriage. I finally left after 20 years of hoping things would get better. Looking back, I wish that I had the courage to go to him and say how I was really feeling when I felt calm, instead of frustrated, angry and/or resentful.
Looking back, I wish that we had really tried to make things work instead of becoming increasingly distant and hurt. I also truly wish that I had left him years earlier.
Counseling might help, on your own or as a couple, but it only helps if both of you are willing to try.
I'd suggest openly talking, counseling, and a set timeline to really evaluate if you are moving forward to stuck in a stagnant place. If you keep seeing that you're stuck, give thought to leaving. Life is too short to be lonely and unhappy.
posted by jennstra at 12:25 PM on July 10, 2018 [8 favorites]

You have my sympathy, as it really does sound like you and your husband are in a unhappy rut. I was in a similar place a couple years ago in my marriage and marriage counseling pretty much saved us. (He also began going to counseling alone to work on some of the stuff we uncovered in our couples sessions.) It can work, is what I’m saying, if you’re both willing.

On preview, Rock Steady’s script is essentially what I said to my husband.
posted by minervous at 12:28 PM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Your husband does not seem interested in doing anything, just deflecting responsibility and blaming you.

What it would look like if both of you were contributing to the problem but both wanting a solution would be that when you try to approach this stuff, he would actually engage. He might say you do X wrong but would continue on to say what he'd rather have happen is Y.

And unfortunately, a startling number of people get married in order to stop dating, to stop having to do the work and deal with the feelings, in order to move on to the lifelong rut stage of life. He may be more or less living the dream now. You can't make him want more, or want to make more effort, or even want to want more effort from you.

If that situation isn't okay for you, you can either walk away and look for a better situation or accept it and settle in and maybe get by with whatever happier stories exist in your head. Some people do that. Some people try that and eventually they crack and have to move on.

You can drag him to marriage counseling, but you can't make him actually make a good faith effort at it. You should go to therapy, tell him you're going to therapy - yes, Rock Steady's script is exactly right - and want to figure out your life. What he does at that point is up to him. You are allowed to judge him for what he does or does not do, and you are allowed to make your own decisions based on his behavior, you just don't get to control his behavior.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:33 PM on July 10, 2018 [11 favorites]

It seems ridiculous to throw away a marriage because of these things.

sometimes these things are fixable, but when they're not, ending the marriage over them is not ridiculous at all.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:34 PM on July 10, 2018 [7 favorites]

It seems ridiculous to throw away a marriage because of these things.

A marriage is mostly, sex, attention, trust and these things are like most of the whole. This is like saying "I wouldn't throw out a cake just because the eggs, sugar and dairy have gone bad!" because that's a a bad cake.

Also you don't ever need a reason to break up. Just not wanting to continue is enough.
posted by French Fry at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2018 [58 favorites]

This is depressing, but your description of how your husband is treating you sounds like the last two years of my marriage. I was doing some 'It can't go on like this' soulsearching over those two years, and then he neatly solved the problem by abruptly leaving to go live with his business partner in another state.

So, that's not advice, just gloom. But counselling couldn't hurt. Everything I've heard from friends who tried it ( I couldn't get my ex to participate myself) is that if it helps, it helps, and if the relationship is doomed, it can make the exit process easier and less painful.
posted by LizardBreath at 1:02 PM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

sometimes these things are fixable, but when they're not, ending the marriage over them is not ridiculous at all.

I mean - yes and no. Yes, if you think that being single would be happier than being married. No, if you're thinking that if you get divorced you will find someone better.

Because the statistical odds are low that you will find someone better - and this isn't because you don't deserve to find someone better, or because he's doing enough (he clearly is not) but because men at large have been very socialized to treat their own comfort and convenience as a higher priority than their female spouses. Marriages are failing all over the place, and a large part of why is because women are realizing that they are not being treated as equals.

But also if you can swing a place to live and the kid, it's not crazy to consider being alone. Think about what really makes you happy and work towards that.
posted by corb at 1:11 PM on July 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

In true Ask tradition, people are quick with the DTMFA, but slow to add the fact that you have a child to the math on that. Additionally, every time I see that advice given to a woman who is not in an abusive relationship, I add the footnote that in America, divorce is the #1 predictor of poverty for women and children.

You know what's cheaper than divorce? Marriage therapy.

A marriage is mostly, sex, attention, trust and companionship

There is absolutely no singular ideal of marriage. There isn't even a singular cultural definition of marriage. A marriage is whatever two individual people decide their contract with one another is.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:13 PM on July 10, 2018 [30 favorites]

I have a book suggestion and a few life suggestions. The book suggestion is This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness. I loved this nonfiction book because it shows how a woman went about having a good time on her own and with her children when her husband basically went MIA and their marriage was in crisis. I have no idea if the two of them are even together today, but the point is that we can take care of ourselves and do things like make friends, develop interests, and cultivate a caring community no matter where we live. Doing that is good for everyone and linked to longer, healthier lives regardless of gender, living circumstances, partnership status, and other factors. That is a good thing. Please start working on that regardless.

I remember having a toddler and a partner who was a drag. Sooo exhausting. My partner did not want to have sex with me. He was not obligated to, but dammit, that stung. Etc. So I am not you but I remember a similar experience and it sucked mightily. My advice:

1. Show your partner this thread. Let him read it. Let him ponder what you have said. It doesn't matter what we say, and you have presented your situation kindly (at least from a stranger's perspective).

2. Start taking notes for a month. Not damning, prosecutorial notes but observations. How much does he touch you? On what days do you try to hug him and get rebuffed? Also and importantly, look for his good behaviour and record it. The things he does on any day that you appreciate. Doesn't matter if it's only fair that he does X or Y; just note it. Also, before you go to bed each night: How do you feel about your partner and your marriage–up or down? After the month is over, review your notes. Tote up the number of thumbs up vs thumbs down.

3. To some people, an active sex life is critically important to feeling loved and connected. Or other things. It is okay to be one of those people. Is that possibly the case? Consider exploring the Savage Love column or Dan Savage's podcast to help you think about the importance of sex to you personally.

4. I had a partner who hated shop talk. I just found someone else to discuss my work with because my partner just didn't want to hear it. That didn't make him a bad person, it made him a poor choice for that topic.

5. Be honest with your husband. Share how you truly feel. If he makes it clear that he disagrees with your perceptions and is unwilling to make any changes (and/or unwilling to be honest with you about any problems he has with you), then take as much time as you need to decide how to build the life you want without his help. Maybe that is 6 months; maybe that is a year. Maybe that is 3 years. Just don't let it be 10. (Also, there are nearly always more than two choices. You may not like the choices you have, but usually there are more than two.)

I stayed way too long with a partner after we stopped being compatible. He was a wonderful person but, after a certain point, absolutely unhealthy for me to stay with. I kept listening to what he told me instead of paying attention to his actual behaviour. After awhile, it was clear that his words did not match his deeds, and I needed to move on. Many years later, we are good and true friends. Our lives got better when I insisted on making the break that he didn't want.

Please note: Lots of people go through rough patches in their relationships and emerge stronger and happier afterward. I am not telling you to DTMFA already, I'm really not. I am saying it is okay to want more; it is okay to ask for more; if you cannot get more, that does not mean that you are a bad person or your partner is a bad person. It does mean that you will have some decisions to make. So don't drag this out for long. Talk to your partner sooner rather than later so you can quash those fantasies before they get messy and make progress in your actual life in the only steps available to exhausted toddler parents (and most other humans). Take small, imperfect steps and glory in any and all progress you make. Best of luck, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:21 PM on July 10, 2018 [19 favorites]

You can't fix your husband so I am going to give you the effective solution of finding and committing to some kind of a practice that helps you focus on yourself. Focusing on yourself ( I call it self-work) will make you a happier and more capable human being. You will like yourself more, you may or may not inspire your husband to work on himself, and you will definitely become a better parent.

I don't know you, so I can't say what will fit into your life best. When my son was young, I went on 5am hikes. I got back into meditation. I eventually settled on a yoga practice, but triathlon is cool, too. Something that includes exercise, breathing, and some kind of focus is A+. If it provides the opportunity to practice on your own but with a community around you (spin class?) A++. Pick something you can reliably do for an hour a few times a week, maybe something with drop in classes. IDK where you are or what your lifestyle is like, but hopefully you get my drift here.

Ultimately, within a few months, you'll improve your headspace. Maybe you'll change or refine your practice. The point is to enjoy whatever it is in the moment, after a while you'll depend on the longterm benefits. Bad weeks turn into bad days only, because you have a place to work it out. Then maybe you just experience discouragement for a few hours here or there, as you put it together that no matter what's going on, how you feel is fleeting.

You might also get a therapist, someone positive to take your heavier emotions to.

Your husband is obviously struggling and unhappy. He's erroneously blaming you, and you need a fulfilling something to act as a buffer. Don't turn to anything that will blow up your life, such as an affair. Instead find something you enjoy that's just for you to do. Take that baby step and build on it as you start to feel better.
posted by jbenben at 1:26 PM on July 10, 2018 [10 favorites]

I don't think this marriage is save-able (how is that word written out?) unless your husband is willing to put in some work. Right now he neglects you but also objects vociferously to anything that might make you happy, like talking about work or any other dude at all.

If he was willing to come to an agreement along the lines of "okay, fine, we still live together for the kid but you get affection elsewhere," you might be able to make it work, but if he objects to that, which it sounds like he does... Well. He wants you to be starving hungry and he's your only food and he won't feed you. He wants you to be fine with how things are because he is. (Supposedly.)

I can't speak to how you'd handle finances and child stuff if you left him, but if that wasn't a factor I'd concur with "This is like saying "I wouldn't throw out a cake just because the eggs, sugar and dairy have gone bad!" because that's a a bad cake." Most of this has gone bad for you and he may not want to fix it. If he doesn't want to fix it, then your choices are live with things as they are or leave. You need to find out if he's willing to try and then decide from there if he isn't.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:40 PM on July 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

Have you told your husband this stuff? It sounds like you have approached him several times saying "why are you unhappy, husband" and now it's time to approach him and say "actually, I am unhappy."
posted by hungrytiger at 1:46 PM on July 10, 2018 [15 favorites]

I agree with DarlingBri and will add that for parts of my marriage when we had a baby and a toddler I was miserable. It is so much easier now that our kids are older (youngest in kindergarten) and that we each take a night to ourselves.

it's a marriage. play the long game. figure out how you guys can best coexist and coparent at this point and what your goals are for the future. having young kids is stressful. try to carve out some time for yourself and just let the marriage 'be' for a while. Slowly work on your relationship with your partner. don't think crisis. think slow evolution.

I think my husband and I have a good system going. I miss some of the passion of earlier relationships but I love us together and the family we have. I am glad I just let myself 'survive' the early child years.
posted by biggreenplant at 2:07 PM on July 10, 2018 [18 favorites]

Marriage counselling is much cheaper and kinder than a divorce. It also makes for gentler divorces. Me, because your ex sounds like mine, i wonder if your ex is cheating on you and pre-emptively accusing you to distract you from his own behaviour. Whatever is going on, he is as written above, miserable and acting like a jerk. So you in response are having normal romantic fantasies. For the love of your child, do not act on them - celibacy short term beats sordid affair/divorce. Read steamy novels or fanfic. Get a therapidt.

You can start marriage counseling alone and he can join later sessions.

The advice to focus on yourself is y good. Be happy at work and as a mom, find a hobby you love, a sport, a way to connect to women friends. Either the therapy will work and you'll get through this rough patch to a good marriage with your kid, or you'll be a happier single mom. You can get somewhere better than being stuck.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:30 PM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Been there. Have recently been re-reading my journal from that period, which is now nearly three decades ago. We were both under huge amounts of stress for various work-related reasons, we had a kid, and we were both becoming obsessed with other people. I was terribly unhappy.

He luckily got laid off and had to start a new career, and eventually he got counseling. Meanwhile, I did my best to take care of myself, didn't act on the attraction, and didn't let him guilt me into doing what mattered to me.

Still married. A lot happier. No answers for you except to take care of yourself and don't try too hard to please anyone else, even a spouse.
posted by Peach at 5:57 PM on July 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

It sounds like your husband is depressed. I’m not saying this to let him off the hook for being a jerk. My husband has depression, and when it flares up, our sex life and most of the romance just goes out the window. So your tale sounds familiar to me.

Could it be that your husband’s unhappiness with this job is seriously affecting his mental health? If he doesn’t like his job, what would he rather be doing? I think you two should discuss that together.

You didn’t say what your profession is but it could be possible that you take on the bulk of paying the bills while your husband pursues a different line of work (and takes on more of the childcare, if applicable).

Then you should discuss what you need from him. it should be something concrete. Say, a regular standing Friday date night. Or, take a class together. Just something that you will find romantic that will remind you of why you fell in love with this person in the first place.
posted by shalom at 6:34 PM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

The fact that your husband externalizes the problems in your marriage as being your fault (for being engaged in your work, having good working relationships with your colleagues, trying to engage with him and getting no response) is very problematic. It reads like he sits around moping, expecting you to guess what he feels and fix it for him while he pretends nothing is wrong and if it is, it’s because you’re a bad wife.

My sister was married to a guy exactly like this (except much more vocal and critical about how everything was her fault) and her divorce goes through tomorrow. She spent years trying to make him understand and contribute toward making both of them happier, and in the end it became clear that he didn’t give a shit if she was happy, he only cared that she made HIM happy and felt that that should be enough to make her happy.

I guess I would start the usual run of getting yourself individual counseling, so you can get an objective viewpoint about what is and isn’t okay about these dynamics, and to encourage him to join you in marriage counseling, so that he has a third party who might get through to him about healthier dynamics than you would. And if a year or so (insert acceptable timeframe here) goes by, and you’re still here in this shitty place where he refuses to act like he cares about you and tells you it’s your fault, then you can decide whether you want to invest more energy in trying to pull a decent marriage out of this guy like you’re removing wisdom teeth.

Btw my sister is now dating a guy who doesn’t act like any of that and unsurprisingly, she’s much happier.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:29 PM on July 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

Seduce him. You’re waiting for him to change, but to make your marriage work, you both have to change. So you go first. Seduce him. Compliment him on something, preferably something he’s done rather than an appearance thing, and then kiss him hard, or grope him, or whatever you used to do when you were first dating. Someone has to make the first move, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be you.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:55 PM on July 10, 2018

I'm an older first time mom and I wanted to add a few points...

As I already stated, getting a practice and investing in myself was my solve for this issue. But I have more.

It is sadly common for couples with toddlers to experience this. The pattern I see is lots of parents with toddlers divorcing because this time is when the rubber meets the road, lots of folks just don't have the tools or support to make it through the toddler years.

You Are Not Alone.

Invest in yourself and make it to kindergarten. You can start NOW by also getting involved in community with other toddler parents. Do weekend Mommy and Me activities, reach out. Create a community for your family. Be discerning, accept false starts. Accept other folks are struggling, too, and they may not be your forever friends - just get out there.

Not to bang a drum, but mommy and me yoga classes are everywhere now. Even in rural communities. Just start activating. You guys can get through this!

Fatherhood is daunting and your husband is struggling. Give him some space to get himself together by creating outside community for you and your child, hopefully one that revolves around a positive pursuit like mommy and me activities, and yes, something in an exercise or creative vein that is just for you.

Other moms out there feel lonely like you do right now. Find each other. Don't wait.
posted by jbenben at 11:34 PM on July 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

Last comment.

My experience mirrored by some of my now mom-friends is that the other families (moms, usually) we were in contact with during the toddler years were... not ideal. It's a weird transition, it brings out the worst in some people. Tensions are high and there can be dramaz. But you can speed bump that and hold out or keep looking for your tribe. If you get lucky right away - great! If you need to stay socially flexible for a while, great! Your goal is to give your child fun experiences and nurture their childhood development. I wish I could download my experience from these years to you. I do know my now friends that cultivated a community earlier than I did had a better experience. It all evens out by first grade, but don't wait. That's my honest advice. You are not alone right now, this is a near universal experience as a new parent. It's a marathon, not a sprint.


Think about taking some vitamins and herbs. Maybe make that a new thing in your lives, even if it is just a multivitamin. Memail for specific rec's, but overall, I can't tell you enough how much taking supplements + exercise + meditation helped me get through those years. I have a goid friend now that takes antidepressants and supplements and she's a rockstar. She relates she was drowning before antidepressants. I had a bad experience with them and just do fun stuff like amino acids and ginko (+ yoga) - but apparently there is a solve for every mom in need.

You can make friends. I want to affirm this. Having a community will make all the difference.

posted by jbenben at 11:51 PM on July 10, 2018

Below are some small things you could do which might help. Note that I am not focusing on you because I think you hold the lion's share of responsibility - I agree with other commentors that your husband has to step up, and there are some deep issues for you both to work through. However, your actions are the only ones you can control, so these might be worth trying:

1) Don't talk about work at home. If your husband truly hates his job, then spending 8 hours a day in it is hard - spending any more time after hours is just torture. You yourself said you wished you could have a fun conversation, so, start those conversations - about that TV show, the relative you both like, upcoming events or vacations, etc. Be a rock start when you're on the job, and when the work hours are over, focus on non-work stuff.

2) If you don't absolutely need to text that male coworker after hours, shut that down, it's not worth the damage to your marriage. If your job description requires for you to be on-call for after-hours emergencies, I guess you're stuck, but I'm betting the texting is more out of convenience then necessity. And it forces you to continue thinking about that male coworker during your private time. Your intentions may be benign, but his might not be - does he know you are unhappy in your marriage? Some strict professional boundaries seem appropriate in this situation.

3) Make some female friends. Regardless of how your marriage goes, it's good to have a bigger support network. I know being in a rural area makes this harder, so also consider telling an old long-distance female friend you're going through some hard times, and making a point to do extra phone calls.

Best wishes to you.
posted by sdrawkcaSSAb at 7:36 AM on July 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm just sad. I totally get why romance novels exist now. This can't be it for me. This can't be my life. I just want someone to put their arm around me and kiss me like they mean it. To be genuinely interested in things I say. To respect me and my work. To have a fun conversation once in a while.

It is certainly NOT ridiculous to end a marriage over wanting these things. Your needs are valid. To me, your husband sounds lazy, entitled and not validating your feelings. Your happiness matters.

I don't know if this will help - but I ended my marriage (with a good man) for similar reasons: Ours is not to reason why ours is but to do or die

Maybe this relationship has reached an end! That's okay! I think you should get some individual counselling to find out what you would like to do - but don't feel guilty for leaving for more. Don't settle for crumbs.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:11 AM on July 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

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