I am such an idiot.
August 30, 2006 12:09 PM   Subscribe

How do I regain my husband's trust?

No I didn't cheat on him, thank goodness.

Long story short:
1. I have been intermittently dissatisfied with my relationship. It's my own fault. I bring problems on myself, and create disharmony. I am not outwardly mean, but I ignore my husband at times, slack with my duties around the house, and get anoyed with his personality and behavior. I have especially become very discouraged that we have no mutual friends. I have my friends, but he has hardly any. He doesn't like to socialize, so I have become resentful that we weren't living the way I had envisioned. I don't need lavish dinner parties. A barbeque or a night out with friends that we both share would make me happy, but we don't even have that.

2. Because of this disenchantment I have started running my mouth to my sister, and a good friend of mine. I complain about him, and even conveyed the idea that I am too good for him. Terrible, I know. I have a group of girlfriends, and I sometimes joke about my husband (in a light-hearted way--his attempts to make me laugh, grooming habits, etc.), and I get a lot of laughs. I feel terribly guilty about it afterward. Nobody else is saying bad things about their husbands, and it feels wrong. I even wrote about my disenchantment on a message board, and my husband found it. He wasn't snooping. I left the message board open, and he clicked on my screen name. Now he feels completely betrayed and has even said that he would like to leave me, but doesn't have the guts. The reason he feels betrayed is because my "good friend" relayed to me a hurtful remark that another friend made about my husband's personality. I wrote about it on my internet post. I was upset that my friend would tell me something so hurtful about my husband. Beacuase I didn't tell her to go to hell, it offended my husband.

I have told him that I am deeply sorry, and my complaints stem from my own insecurites, and there is nothing wrong with him. We have two young children.
How can I repair my relationship?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (47 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't about regaining his trust, this is about loving him. Once you actually love your husband again, the rest of this nonsense should clear up.

Notice, you don't mention once above that you love your husband, only that you are "deeply sorry."
posted by dead_ at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2006

Maybe I am misinterpreting this, but the reason he is angry at you is because you wrote on a message board that a girlfriend of yours said something rude about your husband, and you posted it along with saying that you were hurt your friend would say such a thing. Your husband read the post and the reason he is mad is because you didn't tell your friend to go to hell. Is this correct? If so, I think he's out of line, telling you that he wishes he could leave you. But it also sounds like this might not be the whole story, since you also seem very dissatisfied about the relationship.

I mean....do you LOVE him? Does he LOVE you? I didn't really get that out of your post, but I would like to believe that deep down you got together in the first place because you have things in common and you deeply love each other. If that love is still there, and you both want to repair the relationship, then I think it's possible. But I think this would be a situation where counseling, both alone & as a couple would help.

I know you can't respond, but if you want to e-mail me a response to post for you, while retaining your anonymity, feel free to contact me at [myusername]@gmail.com.

Either way, anonymous, I wish you the best. I can't say I'm innocent of talking shit about people I love & wishing I hadn't. This will blow over one way or another, you just need to figure out what you and your husband really want.
posted by tastybrains at 12:29 PM on August 30, 2006

"[He] has even said that he would like to leave me, but doesn't have the guts." Whoa! That's clearly not your fault.

He sounds resentlful that you don't like him. Why would you? Your description is of an insecure and insular man who criticizes you but doesn't give you happiness.

"I have told him that I am deeply sorry, and my complaints stem from my own insecurites, and there is nothing wrong with him." But is any of that true? Why are you sorry to complain about his faults? Yes, you might not want to joke about them to friends, but if they really are his faults why say there is nothing wrong with him?

Before you beat yourself up any more, step back and figure out what you are looking for in this relationship. I'd get into therapy for yourself frankly. Seems like you're blaming yourself for his failures.

Here's power to you. Good luck.
posted by johngumbo at 12:34 PM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Here's an idea: Stop running to other people for answers and do this together, with your husband. Go to counseling together. Find out if you can work. Figure out whether you love him or not, and go from there. Talking shit about him to friends, or posting on message boards, or posting on Metafilter (even if your intentions are good) is not going to solve the problem at this point.
posted by Happydaz at 12:38 PM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

This isn't about regaining his trust, this is about loving him.

I mean....do you LOVE him? Does he LOVE you?

Before this thread goes way too far down the L-O-V-E road I posit that what you need to begin focussing on is nurturing an atmosphere of charity and respect for yourself and your husband. Love provides enough fuel to get a relationship off the ground but it's not enough to sustain the mature sense of understanding that must develop between two people over the long term. Love is easy; this is the part that takes work.

My immediate advice is to make a commitment to cut the bullshit out of your relationship. That means you need to begin conducting yourself in a manner that makes you proud. Stop bringing problems on yourself and creating disharmony. It also means you need to stop blabbering to your girlfriends about the problems in your relationship and begin devoting that energy to talking with him about it. Get in his corner and defend him against the criticism that precipitated the scenario you describe above. Verbalize your commitment to the adherence of eliminating the bullshit from your relationship and tell him you're going to start proving this commitment now.

Someone has to start building the bridge that will eventually reconnect the two of you. In his current state it's unlikely he will be the one to start doing this. If you really want to salvage your marriage then start making amends now. The love will be there again for you when you're both ready.
posted by quadog at 12:58 PM on August 30, 2006 [2 favorites]

Woah! Perhaps we ought to have a little context before jumping all over her poor husband in absentia.

Having read the other message board post, I can stay that it struck me that anon liked her husband but felt that she was more fun and interesting than he was, and sort of resented him for not wanting to go out and get drunk more. There was a strong subtext of her kicking herself for having married such a dork. Had I read that kind of post written by my wife, hells yes I'd be pissed!

My totally uninformed speculation is that the relationship is salvageable, but anon needs to get over this thing she has, and probably they both need to talk to a professional.

Good luck!
posted by myeviltwin at 1:03 PM on August 30, 2006

myeviltwin: Well put.
posted by johngumbo at 1:05 PM on August 30, 2006

I think there a couple things here:

1. Your being disrepectful to your husband behind his back is just wrong, and should stop. It's one thing to have heart-to-hearts with outside parties when you need a sounding board for relationship problems; it's another to use your partner as the butt of your jokes just to blow off steam. I can certainly understand the appeal, and you're not a bad person for doing it, but I think apologizing to your husband for doing so, and for not immediately taking his side in what happened, is appropriate. And if it were me, I'd probably cut those friends out of my life, because it sounds like more drama then it's worth; at the very least, tell them explicitly that you don't want to hear those comments, and tell your husband you've told them that.

2. If he really never goes out with mutual friends, or never socializes with your friends at all (though if they're all making nasty comments about him, no wonder he doesn't!), and that's something that really bothers you, it's not just your problem or your insecurities at work here. It's a problem you have as a couple, and one you do need to deal with as a couple. Can't he suck it up occasionally and have a good time with people, in exchange for, I don't know, what's important to him? Your not bugging him to do it more often? Your agreeing to having a night in once in a while? Something else?

Your post makes it sound like you've taken to blaming him entirely for the problems you're having (his lack of socializing is making you unhappy), and then taking the entirety of the blame back on yourself when he confronted you (it's all your problems and insecurities). Neither is really true; you're a couple, couples have problems, and many need to be solved in tandem through compromise. (And therapists are trained to help navigate these problems if you're not sure how to approach them yourselves.)
posted by occhiblu at 1:05 PM on August 30, 2006

Agree w/Happydaz. The fact you've been bad-mouthing your husband, even among friends, raises a big question about your maturity to be in an adult relationship.

Frankly, from the tone of your message, you don't seem to respect your husband much. And if you don't respect someone, it's hard to like them, much less be married to them.

But from your own behavior you don't sound all that likable either. I mean, your husband may be a complete slouch, but it takes two to tango. Problems in couple relationships are almost always part of a dynamic that is fueled equally by each party.

That's not to say you can't salvage the relationship. Of course you can, if you both want to. But don't expect the therapy/solutions to be easy. Talking behind your partner's back is an easy, quick-fix for a lazy partner or one that's simply given up. Doing the hard work of fixing your relationship, compromising, growing, etc. -- that's hard work.

You should also consider that most men generally maintain fewer friends as they get older. It's normal. And having "mutual friends" is also the exception, not the norm. If it's that important to you, have you discussed the issue with him and expressed why it's important to you? Have you ever made a plan, with your husband, to change the situation?

Regain your husband's trust? If you're serious, find the best therapist in your town and make an appointment. They'll help you sort out whether the problems are mostly in the relationship, or in your head. Getting professional help will also show your husband that you understand your behavior's been childlike, and that you're serious about changing.
posted by pallen123 at 1:11 PM on August 30, 2006

Talking shit about him to friends, or posting on message boards, or posting on Metafilter (even if your intentions are good) is not going to solve the problem at this point.

Agreed. You need to figure out why you're so unsatisfied. From the sounds of it, you are unsatisfied with something pretty significant (whether your life in in general or your relationship in particular), and you take it out on your husband by being passive-aggressive (ignoring him, slacking off around the house, getting annoyed/hostile, creating drama, etc.) and by being disloyal (slagging him off to friends, on message boards, etc.). Those behaviors don't just come out of nowhere -- there's something behind them.

So ask yourself why? What, really, is bothering you? Did you have different expectations of marriage, and now you feel let down? Did you give up a job you liked to have the kids, and now you feel resentful? Do you feel he doesn't find you attractive, and now you feel rejected? Whatever the issues are, you owe it to yourself and to your husband to start getting at the core here, and then start learning a more honest, adult way of treating each other with kindness instead of spite and communicating your feelings and needs (and learning to hear and respect his own feelings and needs).

Because seriously, the behavior you're describing is childish and cruel; it hurts your husband and it makes you feel guilty -- not to mention the fact that it doesn't work in getting you whatever it is you really want. (Realizing all that was finally how I learned to quit pouting around my boyfriend if I'm upset about something, and just tell him what the problem is. Result: Fewer fights, more easily resolvable conflicts when they do arise, and increased feelings of mutual respect and affection.)

So I think you're looking at a process, not a quick fix. You can say you're sorry all you want, but the only thing that shows you're sorry is replacing hurtful, unhealthy behaviors with kinder, healthier ones. And you can't meaningfully change your behavior until you know what's driving it. I recommend this book all the time and so I might as well do it again here -- it's been enormously helpful for me, and everyone I know who's read it too finds it equally eye-opening. Best of luck to you and your husband.
posted by scody at 1:19 PM on August 30, 2006

Wow. Well, I can talk about this from the male side.

My girlfriend of about six months and I broke up three weeks ago, and I started seeing someone else right away, a girl I'd met a few months previously.

During the span of our relationship, I made a lot of changes to myself to meet her needs. I thought we had a fairly solid relationship, but she was *constantly* nagging me about my driving habits, the way that I talk, my male aptitude for chewing on my own shoes while wearing them, and a multitude for other things. I've changed about all that I'm going to manage to change -- whereas I was self-centered, I now look out a lot for the needs of those around me. Whereas I needed a lot of 'alone time' when we started our relationship, but I managed to find ways to still get the things done that I would during my alone time and yet spend time doing things quietly together.

Unfortunately, it just wasn't good enough. We didn't react to each other in the ways that were rewarding for each other -- when I did something that pleased her, she didn't get excited about it, she just acknowledged it and moved on. When I said something that was unintentionally hurtful or insulting, and apologized immediately, she still acted hurt to the point where we rushed out of restaurants with her in tears and me leaving a 20 on the table for check & tip (some waiters got some NICE tips outta that) several times. I was very committed to the relationship, so I just knuckled under and dealt with things as they happened. I truly did love her unconditionally, even when she was flipping out and blaming me for the slightest things going wrong.

A few weeks back, a week after I started seeing the new girl, my ex and I were drinking (as we'd agreed to stay friends) at my place. The new girl stopped by, and started drinking with us. When I drink, I get cuddly. (Yeah, cute, aww.) ... so the new girl and I started cuddling on the couch.

The ex *flipped*. We're talking a genuine psychotic incident that put her in her psychologist's office at 8 the next morning, and back on medication.

Through this whole process, it came out that she was still attracted to me, and it took me breaking up with her to get her to admit to herself that she didn't give me a fair shake the first time around, and to step back and analyze her behaviour.

Obviously, I don't know you, and I don't know your husband. But I think you need to take a step back and take *everything* out of the boxes in your head where you store your emotions. Find what attracted you to him in the first place, and trace what happened to that back to where you lost it. That might tell you something about whether you need to cut him loose and divorce him or whether you need to work on yourself instead of nagging him.
posted by SpecialK at 1:35 PM on August 30, 2006

I'm not so quick to blame the husband. That's often what happens when you only hear one side of the story.

Some people are extroverted and some are introverted. The husband may very well be the latter. Being a failry self-contained person myself, I can picture this in your husband. That doesn't make him a louse. It DOES raise the question, though, of how well matched you too really are in a marriage.

As for badmouthing your husband and worse yet making fun of him to your friends, well that's just plain awful. I don't blame him for being upset, hurt, angry etc..

Maybe counseling will help. Maybe not. My gut feeling is that you two will prbably call it quits sooner or later and find someone more suited to each of your needs.

Sometimes you just can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.
posted by bim at 1:39 PM on August 30, 2006

How do I regain my husband's trust?

I'm going to try to answer this question without making value judgements or veering offtrack. I'm not sure whether you CAN regain his trust, but here are some things you can try (things I would do in your situation).

1. Apologize (which I know you've already done), and make sure that when you do so, you don't in any way hint at (or overtly mention) his faults. This means that you can't even explain yourself by saying, "I'm sorry. I did it because I was angry at you..." You can only say, "I'm sorry I did it. There's not excuse for it." Also, don't say, "and I hope you forgive me." In other words, don't make the apology about you and your needs. An apology -- if it's real (if you're to convince him it's real) -- should be unqualified and pure.

Also, don't say, "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings." Too many people do that. Hurting his feelings isn't what you did wrong. That's the RESULT of what you did wrong. What you did wrong was talk about him behind his back. Apologize for THAT. There's something about "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings" that sounds vaguely like it's his fault (maybe for being such a wittle baby who got his fweeling hurt).

[Note: I'm NOT saying you can't express your anger and concerns. You can and should. Just not while you're apologizing. And not right after, either. "Okay, now can we talk about what YOU do?" needs to wait for another day.]

2. If you walk around town breaking windows, it's not enough to apologize. You need to go back and fix all the windows you broke. So go back to all the people you vented to and tell THEM that you are sorry you did it. That you now feel that it was wrong. And that your husband is a good guy. Especially do this on the message board.

3. On another day -- a day where you and your husband aren't discussing this issue (or at least during a time when you're not) -- do something nice for him.

If you hurt someone and them buy them flowers to make up for it, that's nice, but there's a "please don't be angry at me" element of it that seems self-serving (or at least it can come off that way). So you need to start doing things for him at other times.

Make it your business to do one nice thing for him each week, without expecting anything in return. Maybe after a while, the habit will become ingrained.

4. During a separate discussion (not while you're apologizing), be honest with him about your goal: "I'd really like to regain your trust." Don't say, "What can I do to regain your trust?" because that makes it his problem. Rather, say, "I know it might not be possible, but I'd really like to do it, and I'm going to try hard to do it."

FINAL NOTE: you and other people here might feel that these suggestions are over-the-top and demeaning. That's fine. I'm not telling you to do them. I'm just answering your question: "How do I regain my husband's trust?" If your gut tells you that you shouldn't have to do all these things, then maybe there are other things that are more important to you than regaining his trust.

Regaining someone's trust takes time and hard work. Expect it to take much longer than you'd like it to take. Expect to have to work much harder than you'd like to work.

I wish you all the best. My wife and I have a similar dynamic to you and your husband (though it hasn't lead to my wife badmouthing me). I'm a homebody. She likes to go out. If you want to discuss this, my email is in my profile.
posted by grumblebee at 1:43 PM on August 30, 2006 [6 favorites]

I think your husband has some growing up to do.

Every one of my mate's close friends knows all my shortcomings, and all the bad things I've done in our relationship, without exception.

So what.

I work daily to improve those things, with decidedly mixed results, but I am absolutely secure in her love for me. If she didn't have that outlet I'm afraid she'd go crazy, and more than that, if I told her she couldn't talk about what's on her mind, I'd be asking her to live a lie, and that would be worse than all the rest put together.

You have borne the man two children, and I think he would be serving himself better by far if he could face who he is and what he is doing, instead of crying and whining and trying to become your third baby.
posted by jamjam at 1:45 PM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

You need to accept him for who he is -- warts and all -- if you want your relationship to succeed. You married a dorky introvert. So did I. The difference: It doesn't bother me when he stays home playing video games while I cavort with friends. Not only does it bother you, but you then take your cavorting time and spend it badmouthing him. Yikes!
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:51 PM on August 30, 2006

jamjam, doesn't that depend on the specifics of their contract? If a couple has an open relationship, then sleeping around isn't cheating. That's specific to THAT relationship's contract.

In my relationship, my wife and I are allowed to act badly around the house -- in front of each other -- without fearing that our behavior will get outside the marriage. In other words, I feel safe bursting into tears in front of my wife, knowing that she's not going to go to the office the next day and tell everyone her husband is a big crybaby. And she knows she can expect the same treatment from me. That's part of our contract.

Sure, I know that if I make life hell for my wife, she'll need to vent. If she talks about it to a close, trusted friend, that's fine. That's reasonable. But it's not reasonable -- given the rules of our relationship -- for her to blab private stuff to everyone she meets.

Especially for me, who tend to be guarded with their feelings, it's a big betrayal if their wife blabs. And it's equally sweet -- as a man (or even as a guarded woman) -- to know that there's a special person that you can tell your secrets, knowing they'll stay secrets.
posted by grumblebee at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2006

anon, I know people say this all the time, but why not show your husband this thread? He'll see that you're trying to do the right thing (asking for advince), and he'll see how many people her are standing up for him.
posted by grumblebee at 1:57 PM on August 30, 2006

I don't know -- if he's already upset she's been talking about him behind his back, I'm not sure that more discussion about his life with strangers, no matter how well intentioned or helpful, would go over very well.
posted by occhiblu at 2:03 PM on August 30, 2006

good point, occhiblu. (It depends on how rational he is. This IS an anonymous post.)
posted by grumblebee at 2:08 PM on August 30, 2006

1) I'm assuming you're not in high school. Stop taking jabs at your husband behind his back. If you can't say something in front of him you shouldn't be saying it behind his back, using it as material for a half-assed stand up routine around your girlfriends.

2) You say that your husband doesn't have many friends, I'm assuming he is not close with your friends either. I'm sure you can see how hurtful it must be to find out that someone whom you barely even know is taking jabs at you. To top it off, the person who supposedly is supposed to love you and respect you doesn't have the decency to stand up for you...Instead she goes and posts it to the world on a message bored. (*classy*) Its quite fair that your husband is upset.

3) Its apparent your husband isn't the most social person, did you not realize this before marriage? You are in a relationship, perhaps conveying to him how important it is to you to go out and socialize with other couples is important to keeping your relationship strong. Perhaps try meeting "new" friends that aren't specifically yours or his.

4) You say you want to earn his trust back but you never say anything about curbing the behaviour that got you in this situation to begin with, whats your appology worth if you'll go out and do this again?

5) I'm sorry to say you may be SOL as far as "earning" your husband's trust back. He seems like he may be a bit anti-social, the type that keeps to himself. Does he have esteem issues? If he does he may always, in the back of his mind, assume that you are still saying those kinds of things behind his back. I once heard someone saying something about me behind my back. They appologized. I forgave them soon enough, but from that point forward I always looked at them in a different light and subconsciencously asked, "Hmmm, I wonder if he said something?"

Just some thoughts on my part...
posted by ASM at 2:12 PM on August 30, 2006

The ex *flipped*. We're talking a genuine psychotic incident that put her in her psychologist's office at 8 the next morning, and back on medication.

Whoa, this sounds like it needs its own thread...

I've had coworkers say things behind my back, then I found out about it, and now I'm a little paranoid around *all* of them. It's a hard thing to "get over."

I have no other advice.
posted by mecran01 at 2:27 PM on August 30, 2006

Frankly, anon, I don't think you did anything wrong. Your husband may feel "betrayed" but you didn't betray him at all. It's totally acceptable that a spouse complain to friends and family about marriage problems. That's been going on since the stone age. Posting to an internet board is a bit iffy but it doesn't really matter. Nobody knows you're real name. There aren't people pointing at him on the street or laughing behind his back.

But, in relationships, feelings don't require logical verification. The real reason your husband feels betrayed is because you didn't talk to him first about these personal problems of yours. If you feel more comfortable gossiping on the net than you do talking to your husband then something is wrong. Your insecurities aren't the problem -- everybody is insecure in some way except for the Macho Man Randy Savage -- it's your inability to share these insecurities with your husband. Try counseling or whatever but, really, you just have to share these problems with your husband and work with him to figure out solutions that make everybody happy.

Seriously, stop talking to the screen and start talking to your husband.

And no, it's not the end of the world. Your husband will get over it. (Frankly, if a man did leave the mother of his two children because she talks too much then he isn't much of a man at all.) Bit it's up to you e to make it clear to him that he's the #1 guy in your life, you'll try not to control your big mouth, and you'll talk to him about these personal problems first.
posted by nixerman at 2:30 PM on August 30, 2006


Correct me if I'm wrong but the reason that her husband is actually upset is because her friend said something about him, she didn't defend him and then she regurgitated her friend's comment to an online community...I doubt what she said on the message board was anything to the effect of "I can't believe so and so said this about my husband."
posted by ASM at 2:35 PM on August 30, 2006

1. You want your husband to hang out with you and the friends that know all his shortcomings, as well as your sister, who is also part of his family now. ("So, Bob, tough break about the premature ejaculation.")
2. Your husband isn't cruel or mean to you. In fact, the only serious problem worthy of mention in an anonymous post is that he doesn't socialize enough. (And why would he? See #1, supra.)

Get yourself to counseling. The goal now is to avoid irreparably poisoning your kids. I flinched when I saw that you had two.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2006 [2 favorites]

If Anon had been seeking guidance or counseling from her friends and family about genuine relationship problems, then I would say her husband needs to suck it up. However, that is NOT what she was doing. Anon was venting to her friends/sister/internet that she is too good for her husband and rudely mocking him. He's pissed off because she did not defend him and, if he doesn't know yet, she is actually the worst offender of talking shit about him. That is so far over the line of appropriate adult behavior, I don't even know where to begin. If my boyfriend did this shit to me, I would kick his ass out of the house. Anon's sister and friends don't need to know every detail of her problems with her husband. There is a such thing as privacy, and her husband probably feels that that privacy between them was violated.

Those of you that seem to think the husband is a gigantic pussy are entitled to your opinions - I suppose it just means that you should hook up with people like Anon, and people like Anon's husband should hook up with people like me. As far as repairing this relationship, I don't see how anything short of professional counseling is going to do much good. From what I see in the question, their relationship problems seem pretty fundamental.
posted by gatorae at 2:53 PM on August 30, 2006

I think it bears repeating: Your idea of socializing seems to be hanging out with your friends and insulting your husband, yet the thing that bothers you to the point of airing his every foible to everyone you know is that he doesn't want to hang out with these people? Your expectations seem wildly out of line.

Your relationship problem is fundamental: You treat him like shit because you don't like him, and your husband resents it.
posted by majick at 3:33 PM on August 30, 2006

I think I read that message board post, too. If it is what I think it is (friend of friend said he can't believe Anon & hubby are together, he;s a dork, what does she see in him; she vented about vacillating about not defending him) then if I were hubby, I'd be very offended, too -- but only at the initial post.

When I, playing hubby's role, read the follow-up posts, including the ones that Anon really liked, then I would have been able to put it in context and realize that Anon has a whole bundle of issues to deal with. As does hubby -- though I don't think he's at the point where he's ready to see that.

I think that Anon is going to have to wait and hope the initial feelings of anger and betrayal recede enough that some dialogue can start again. Hubby isn't really hearing Anon's apologies right now. Make sure he knows that you want to work it out, but be patient until he is ready to start working with you. He just might not be there yet.
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:48 PM on August 30, 2006

Posting to an internet board is a bit iffy but it doesn't really matter. Nobody knows your real name. There aren't people pointing at him on the street or laughing behind his back.

This sort of thing comes up from time-to-tome, usually in threads about anon MeFi posts. Some people don't understand why we need an anonymous option since "on the web, no one knows you're a dog."

SOME people may use their screen-names as anonymizers, but not everyone does. My Metafilter name is just a nickname, and it's trivial to find out who I really am. And I've met plenty of MeFi people in real life.

Even if this weren't true -- even if I completely divorced Grumblebee from my real-world relationships -- I have online relationships that I value. If there's such a thing as an online community, there's such a thing as a reputation in that community.
posted by grumblebee at 4:19 PM on August 30, 2006

Are we talking about the "message board post" I think we are?

If so, I think you're both overreacting. Maybe you didn't tell your friend to go to hell, but you were hurt on your husband's behalf and asking if you should (tell her to go to hell). And no, I don't think you have to "kill off" your friend just because she was the messenger for someone else's rude comments about your husband. And if you're overreacting about that post, I question whether you really were publicly mocking him quite as much as you say you were. Anon, I think you might be overreacting.

To me, it sounds like the bigger issue is whether you can respect your husband even though he's not as socially adept as you are or want to be, whether you can accept him as an introvert. This whole comment/friend event sounds like a battlefield for that bigger question. (And maybe you're overapologizing because you're not sure if you really can? Just speculating...)

So then, why do you care so much about his shyness? It seems like you really want to be socially accepted. You seem a little worried about being "cool" enough and maybe even about whether he's dragging down your "coolness factor." (Hey, we all have flaws.) But it seems like for a while you've been thinking the problem is him (not being cool, or not caring about socializing) when it's a problem between you and the outside world (your insecurity about being cool) or between you and him (your frustration that he doesn't share the goal of having a certain social life). So, instead of saying, "hey, I'm insecure, help me not be," or "hey, a shared social life is really important to me, help me," (OR, after having tried that and having your requests ignored), you got frustrated and disrespectful. To me, that's where you screwed up.

So own up -- "I'm sorry. I'm a little socially insecure so I worry about whether I'm cool enough, and I even get embarrassed of you since we're a couple -- I'm sorry -- I need to get over this insecurity on my own. Also, I am frustrated because I want to have shared friends, and we aren't working toward that goal the way I want to. I still have that goal. But I realize I was venting my frustration and blaming you instead of bringing the problem to you in a way that we could solve together. I respect you even if you don't want to go out all the time, I accept you as an introvert."

Then, sometime after he's not upset anymore, go back to focusing on the core issue. Remind him that you do still really want to have a shared social life, and that you hope you can work on that together.

I think if you two have some heart-to-hearts about your differences, you can eventually accept each other as you are (you want to go out with him, he'd rather stay home). John Gottman (marriage author) says that some problems can't be "solved," but that a marriage can still be happy if you establish a friendly and positive dialogue about the issue. For example, my old bf turned everything I said into scientific data, even my emotions. I started calling him Mr. Wizard when he did that, and then we could laugh about it. Eventually, he'd preface himself by saying, "okay, this is a Mr. Wizard comment, but I think -- " And then everything was okay.

Good luck! You're not such a horrible person. You screwed up something, and he's hurt, and you feel really bad that you hurt him, so let him know you feel bad, and you're halfway home already. But you have to be on your own side -- you can't abandon yourself into complete self-blame just because you did something wrong. It might help for a minute, but you can't solve the real problems unless you remember what your original desires were.
posted by beatrice at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2006

Are we talking about the "message board post" I think we are?

Wait, is there a relationships.metafilter.com that all the cool kids are reading but me? Unfair.
posted by Gucky at 4:37 PM on August 30, 2006

Read (or listen to the audio book) Five Love Languages. I heartily recommend it as a good starting point.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:39 PM on August 30, 2006

you just tell him you were wrong to do those things you list, you are sorry you did them, and then you don't do them again, ever. but if you don't in your heart think you were wrong, and you are not in your heart sorry, then it may well be over.
posted by londongeezer at 4:40 PM on August 30, 2006

It is possible that you might eventually earn back his trust, perhaps by following grumblebee's excellent advice. It would take months for me to forgive what I would see as deliberate backstabbing from someone I trust.

If you do rebuild your relationship, and you truly want him to socialize with your current friends (unlikely) or new friends (more likely), then you need to realize that the worst possible move you can make is to demean him to those friends. At best, they'll tolerate what they'll perceive as a loser, and he'll always feel like an outsider.

Demeaning someone behind their back is how you create and enforce the outsider role for someone you don't like.
posted by Invoke at 4:53 PM on August 30, 2006

If the other messageboard post is the one that I and others think it is, your dissatisfaction may be due to a lack of understanding about his introversion. You may want to check out The Introvert Advantage, an insightful book about the ways that introverts and extroverts differ -- along with some good suggestions for living as an introvert in an extroverted world. Reading it may give you a better picture about why he behaves the way he does, and how you can be a supportive partner.

You are going to have to make some changes if you want a healthy (or even any) relationship with him:

It is great that you recognize that what you've been doing (insulting him in front of others) is bad, now you have to STOP IT. No matter how much you have that itch to throw in a humorous little jab, you CANNOT do so. Consider the topic of his weaknesses officially off limits in conversations with others.

I am usually not one of those people who shout "therapy" at every relationship problem, but you really should consider it for yourself, and perhaps the two of you as a couple. Letting your husband know that your are truly sorry, and showing him that you are taking steps to fix things is very important.
posted by i love cheese at 4:54 PM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think I know the "message board post" in question as well, but I won't be the schmo linking to it as it would de-anonymize the poster of this thread. Suffice to say, if your husband discovered that thread, then he's found this one too. This is not working out so well.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:09 PM on August 30, 2006

liquorice, there was a clue in this thread as to the location of the post. Some people figured it out, someone complained and Matt or Jess removed the clue.
posted by grumblebee at 5:38 PM on August 30, 2006

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and for the thoughtful, intelligent answers and advice. Thank you for the book recommendations - I bought a couple titles.

No, it's not classy to post about my marriage problems on the Internet. But since I did, I am glad it was on metafilter.

To clarify some things about myself and my relationship:

-yes, I do want to belong. I need to get over that.
-yes, I feel the need to critique my husband, I don't know why.
-my husband is very mature, the most adult person I know. He doesn't flippantly threaten to leave me. He is hurt, and feels betrayed. He feels that I don't accept him.
-I want to accept him. I love him.
-I do see how speaking poorly of him just alienates him more from my friends. I won't be doing that any longer.
-our relationship problems mostly stem from my dissatisfaction. Besides not having mutual friends, one of the things that comes up every 6 months or so is the fact that he has a hard time giving compliments. He doesn't compliment me--hardly ever. I feel that I am attractive. I need a compliment here and there. The last time he told me I was pretty without having to ask, was on our wedding day 8 years ago. I don't feel special to him.

I agree that I should take individual and couples therapy seriously. I am making an appointment tomorrow. I have a lot of work to do.
Again, thanks so much to everybody. Your advice and comments mean so much, and they have helped me a great deal.
posted by LoriFLA at 6:30 PM on August 30, 2006

Lori, I was unreasonably harsh up above; I apologize.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:36 PM on August 30, 2006

Saucy, not at all! I don't think you were unreasonably harsh. I like the honesty. I think I need to go to like Vienna or something. You know what I mean? Like a whole team of psychiatrists. :)
posted by LoriFLA at 6:43 PM on August 30, 2006

Good luck, Lori.
posted by scody at 7:12 PM on August 30, 2006

Can you ask him to please go to counseling with you?

Also, maybe you should just show him this post.
posted by onepapertiger at 7:18 PM on August 30, 2006

Jesus christ, don't show him this post. I'm sure he's already extra touchy about being talked about, hearing about this conversation isn't going to help that. Seeking counselling is the right idea. Right now I think mainly you need to express to him that you love him and you want to work on your relationship and make it better and happier for both of you.
posted by nanojath at 8:27 PM on August 30, 2006

I 2nd the 'Five Languages of Love' rec. It sounds like you feel loved when you get compliments but that's not how he's expressing his love. Maybe he's washing your car or taking out the trash or working his ass off and that's his way of showing his love to you. That book can show you how your SO is expressing love to you and it could be not even registering on your love meter.

Example: I could give a flying squirrel about getting compliments. Yea compliments are nice and all but I'd rather have a guy that emptied the trash.

Something to think about: that guilty feeling you're getting laughs at his expense is a signal that this is not behavior worthy of a woman of integrity. When I hear a woman mocking her husband I do not hang out w/her. Not because I'm so great but because if she's willing to do that to her husband, what is she willing to do to a friend or casual acquaintance?

And to add to my .02: a friend recently reconciled with her husband after a year long separation. They were married 20 yrs prior to the separation. Their problems were too big for them to handle so they have been in individual counseling. Now they are going to see a couples counselor too. She says without the counseling they would be divorced because they would've tried the same old things to solve the same old problems. A year ago she really doubted that their marriage would survive and now she is very happy.
posted by Soda-Da at 8:39 PM on August 30, 2006

It's clear to me that your love for your husband is strong. Don't forget that, as you work to find answers. It's probably the most important thing.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:35 PM on August 30, 2006

Gosh, anonymous, some of these posters have been stomping all over you with big boots, haven't they? Given how very little you said, their answers seem to have more to do with their problems than yours.

Trying not to read too much into your post myself, I will recommend my cure-all for relationship problems. Remind yourself of the other person's good points, and then start telling them how much you appreciate those good points. Concentrating on the good things reduces the impact of the less good. This technique can be remarkably effective. I guess we all have brains wired up to detect things that support our current opinions, so if you are both in "my partner has lots of faults" mode it is hard to get out of it. You don't turn the situation around by apologising but by changing the direction you are both looking in.

And whilst you are at it, take time to appreciate your own good points!
posted by Idcoytco at 2:06 AM on August 31, 2006

Mod note: email me if you need the messageboard post location
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:18 AM on August 31, 2006

Good luck, Lori. I am glad you are making the appointment for counseling. You have a lot going for you, and (as you say) a lot to work on. Please keep us posted.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:08 AM on August 31, 2006

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