Needy husband

ifiknewthenJune 16, 2008

I've been with my husband for 5-1/2 years, married 2 years. He is the most clingy, needy man I've ever met in my life and tries to monopolize every second of the day while we're at home together. Obviously, I've asked him to lend a hand while I clean the house, make dinner, do yard work and he always responds with, "Relax! I'll do it later! Come spend time with me," which he won't do because I've been down that road before. He can't study with me (grad student) and I have tons of academic work to do and he can't (or refuses) to understand that just because I do it while he's at work doesn't mean that there's more to do after he gets home. Explaining my position gets me nowhere. Ughhhhh!

Anyone with rational and logical advice on how to handle this issue, please respond. Thanks!

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1) You have to give a little. When you're trying to get your academic work done, ask him to come study by your side. Then tolerate whatever distraction he's causing which might keep you from finishing it (ultimately, you'll come to love having him there, hopefully). 2) He has to give a little. When he wants you to come spend time with him, ask him to lend a hand with whatever housework is lacking and then spend the time doing together, whatever he wants. Then he has to hunker down and do what he obviously doesn't want to do, housework. Won't the result be that each of you gets what you lack? In the end, you'll be closer to each other and more of a cohesive "you".

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 12:54PM
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Disagree with rob333.....

Togetherness is a good thing. However, there are some things that require focus and concentration in order to be accomplished. Studying would clearly be in that category. Maybe some people thrive on this kind of thing but the every-waking-minute-together thing the OP has described would make me crazy.

Many parents complain about their children going through clingy periods and needing to be taught how to occupy themselves individually. This DH sounds kind of like that. Seems silly, but he must be taught. Clingy adults are really annoying.

Seems to me that a different balance should struck and DH must be compelled to acknowledge the need.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 1:20PM
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Oh dear, rob, I have given and quite a lot and in more ways than I care to rehash on this thread but seriously, there are times when I feel like this man would literally crawl up inside my body if he could.

asolo is own child was never allowed to be this needy. I just don't know how to teach DH to not be so clingy. He has friends who call him and they go riding together (but he doesn't even like to do that w/o me!) once in awhile. I always encourage him to go thinking he'll catch on that some time apart is good for us so that we don't tire of one another. For now, I'll just roll with it because my grad work is done! I want to pursue a doctorate but dread the complications that might cause......

Anyhow, thank you for your responses, rob and asolo.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 5:20PM
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You've known this guy for a long time. What happens from direct conversations about this topic? Doesn't seem to me that it should be particularly touchy for either party.

I used the concept of "teaching" too loosely. Grown-ups don't much care for that terminology. However, normal folks do "get it" via straight/open discussion. The contest you've described would be intolerable to me. Thankfully, it sounds as if you have more patience than I. Still, I suggest it be dealt with. Between adults, all I can imagine is a direct approach.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 5:31PM
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I had a boyfriend like that. Needless to say i left him (for other reasons though), he wanted to have me around all the time like 100%. i noticed that i gradually stopped doing what is important for me. If i would do what i want or need to do, he would make me feel guilty or act upset or make comments. And the funniest things in every argument he would say: I need space. lol It was too funny because he never gave me any space. He was always there, so how I could give him space? I mean it is nice to be with someone who wants to be around, but I started to feel controlled. when I left him i felt and still do very sad and lonely, but I also felt that finally I can go and do my stuff! Just tell him what you need and hopefully he will back off a little. I know how that feels!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:09PM
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you want healthy balance though. My ex-husband was kind of guy who was never there, always doing stuff with his friends and sport activities, this is no good either. So i doubt you want you DH to back off completely. Just explain him what balance you need.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:10PM
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Have you asked yourself what a good outcome would be for you, with your smothering DH ?

Sounds like he has some underlying issues that you have to ferret out, if this is ever going to be resolved.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:13PM
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He may just need some real intense time just with you and your full attention. Allot some time just for him. If you are always studying, always doing somethings else, it sounds like he is craving alone time with you and he will just keep baggering you for it. For example, eat breakfast with him and just talk to him.. no tv, no newspaper or books. Or set aside a half hour every night just to talk to phone calls, no laundry, etc...

If you give him a little of your undivided attention, he may loosen up with bothering you every second of the day. It seems to work with kids.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:15PM
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Hi popi, My DH does have issues and they are unresolved because that's the way he's chosen to live. I have tried to empathize and have tried to help him but he chooses to ignore everything so in the process they've become my issues, too.

carla, I like your suggestion because I do that with my daughter. I am extremely busy which is probably a huge part of this because he goes to work and comes home and that's it for him; however, I go to work, come home, clean, cook, do laundry, study, and that leaves little time for anything or anyone else. And as I'm doing all of that, he's fighting for my undivided attention. I can't believe I hadn't thought of that! Thank you!

fine, I do want balance because eventhough I may complain about him, I love and need him. I just never was one for such constant, close contact with anyone. Striking the balance is what it's all about.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 11:24AM
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Presumably you knew what your husband was like before you married him. Has he become more clingy since the wedding?
Anyway, try pointing out that you NEED to have the household chores done; you're NOT going to relax UNTIL the chores are done, and if he helped by doing some of them there'd be more time for you to spend with him.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 11:31PM
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ifiknewthen if you reject and thwart every advance he makes, regardless of what type, no wonder he just tries harder! Sounded like a power struggle to me. Or maybe you just presented it differently than is going on??? Give in sometimes. Tell him no sometimes. Balance, couldn't agree more with all that said it.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 4:31PM
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"he wanted to have me around all the time like 100%.
i noticed that i gradually stopped doing what is important for me.
If i would do what i want or need to do, he would make me feel guilty or act upset or make comments."

OP, this is what's going on in your own life as well.

No one over the age of about 3 *really* believes that they are entitled to have another human being drop everything just to "be with me" or to leave important things undone just so they can "be together".

I don't remember if you answered the question earlier, but it wouldn't surprise me if he has gotten progressively more demanding since the marriage;
this is how the dynamic works.

If he had been this supposedly dependent before the wedding, you likely would have backed out, but now you're much less likely to do so.

This is about control, & it is not-it never is-in your best interests.

Love him & "need" him if you want, but you'll pay a very high price for it;
you'll be engaged in this battle your entire life, until you lose.

Eventually you'll get worn down & acquiesce on one thing after another until there's no "you" left.

& forget the doctorate;
one reason he's campaigning so hard to distract you from your studies is to keep you from getting it.

If he allows you to obtain it, you'll have too much control over your own future.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 4:49PM
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Sylvia, I value your advice as I've read it with great interest on other forums here. I've been thinking the same things about him since there seemed to be an increase in his neediness. Talk about a play on words and "needing" him! I don't need him which he knows, and I have to wonder how much of that is driving his behavior.

colleenoz, the neediness has increased since we married two years ago, and I believe it's because his family has basically disowned him since we married, and he moved to another town to be with me. Recently, his son also moved back to his mother's house.

hi robb, I don't reject every single advance but only those that come at really inappropriate times like studying for my comprehensive master's exam. I realize I am probably a little cold for a woman but as I had said earlier, I really do love him and I want and need balance so I do give in. I just can't all of the time or like sylvia said, I'd be losing myself, which I refuse to do.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 9:21AM
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Well, I would just brain him with a fry pan and get it over with, but I'm not the subtle type.

Now flame me all you want, folks, but I firmly believe that sometimes spouses need to be house-trained like a puppy. Yes, Asolo has it right about just talking it over like two adults and if that works, it is certainly the most mature solution. But I have not had that succeed in my circumstances, so have had to resort to "training" him. Example: I am not going to continue "nagging" him about leaving the toilet a mess after he uses it. We "communicated", it only helped for awhile. Now I just get the toilet brush and cleaner and hand them to him. He's responding much better to this type of actions-have-consequences routine. It that pathetic? Uh huh. Does it make my life easier, uh HUH. It doesn't even bother my conscience much anymore. Marriage is survival on a daily basis sometimes.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 12:46AM
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scarlett, one of my maxims is "Women believe words, men believe actions."

OP, why are you "wondering what drives his behavior"?

It's not some deep-seated psychological injury that you & only you can help heal;

It's manipulation & control, & you're not the healer, you're the victim.

If you want to complete your studies & get your degree, get away from this guy;
just as the degree is your goal, controlling you is his goal, & *he will not stop* until he's achieved it.

Please focus on what is actually happening.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 8:49AM
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Ok, I have to step up here again. If this poster was a man and the needy person a woman, I'm wondering if many may not get a different impression.

Although I can see control being an issue (and I'm not trying to attack the OP), I would bet that she is the controlling one in this relationship, not him. The needy clingy type people are often the ones married to the controlling people, not vice versa. The poster sounds very independant and it doesn't sound like at all like she is allowing any type of even normal relationship control to happen. Possibly he is fighting for a little control, a little attention, because I have a feeling that she, and mainly she, is the one that decides when and what to give to whom. I would bet she has like 95% control in this relationship and that he's just fighting for a little more than 5%.

"and I believe it's because his family has basically disowned him since we married, and he moved to another town to be with me. Recently, his son also moved back to his mother's house."

These facts, and a couple other the OP suggested, don't suggest a controlling man to me, but sound more like a man controlled.

I just think you're barking up the wrong tree if you think this is a controlling abusive type man. Needy type men generally aren't the controlling abusive type.

And, again, not trying to attack the poster, I've been relationship with needy men and they sort push you into a controlling mode. That's why I left them, because I didn't like to be able to control them so much.

The OP may want to pay attention to making sure her husband is given some control over a lot of stuff too. I know it's easier said than done especially if you appear to be the one doing everything... (but maybe you're the one doing everything because you are the one in control?). I know some women control every aspect of how someone puts away the dishes and complain so much about those little things that aren't done exactly right that their husband no longer even try to do them. Just be careful you aren't doing everything because you want to control the way it is done and when it is done, etc. I bet your husband would help, just in his own time... which may not be good enough for you... but why don't you surrender a little control and try to let it be good enough? Dinner may not meat and potatoes and it many not be on the table at 5pm like you like it, but you won't die eating mac and cheese at 8:30 every now and then or having him do the dishes tomorrow morning instead of tonight.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 9:41AM
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but what actually happens?

The nagging OP describes achieves one thing:
it keeps her from her studies.

& I learned long ago that when some poor pitiful person whines about how their entire family disowned them over whatever, that may be the truth & it may be that the family disowned the person because the person just used them up.

(In a former life, I *briefly* but not briefly enogh dated a guy whose family wouldn't have anything to do with him. Poor guy! I "helped" him as much as I could, only to realize, finally, that he had bled his family dry & fully intended to bleed me dry, too...& then on to the next host with a sad story about how much he'd done for me & how badly I'd treated him.)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 12:30PM
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"one of my maxims is "Women believe words, men believe actions."

Sylvia, can you expand on this ? I have been thinking about this, on and off for the day.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 12:04AM
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I was wondering about that myself, popi. I'm still here reading intently and thinking of all of the info that's been posted.

"but what actually happens?"

It's both. I exercise a great deal of control in my job daily. My DH has delegated almost every single task of our relationship and household to me so that I am in charge of it. He goes to work, and as I said before, comes home and does little else. I've tried to get him to do other things like pay the bills. He lets the checkbook and bills sitting out. He won't do it. If my name weren't on them, I'd let them sit until they collected dust, utilities were shut off, and collection companies called.

OTOH, I fully comprehend and am focused on the possibility of this being a control/manipulation issue on his part, and I take it very seriously.

My job requires that I constantly ask myself why people do things in order to get to the root of their behavior so that's why, sylvia, I wondered about his behavior. It's human nature to always question and goes way back to the ancient cultures and their love of learning and their penchant for explaining things. Think back to when your kids were younger and they always asked, "why?" after you explained something. My teenager still asks that dreaded three letter word after everything I say.

By trying to help him, sylvia, I meant by getting him to therapy, which he did not attend.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 7:35AM
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Delegating means that you have the power to delegate.
If you've been delegated any task, you have *less* power.

"Women believe words, men believe actions."

Scarlett gave a good example;
she hands hubs the toilet brush.

She could talk to him every day for a year, & he would agree, & nothing would happen.

If she were at the home of, say, an adult daughter, & she mentioned that the potty was not as sparkling as it could be, the daughter would likely run scrub it right then!

I've listened to so many of my friends who were at the ends of their ropes with boyfriends & husbands, & it's pretty much the same story...& my story was the same, too.

I once had this husband who was starving me emotionally;
he was detached, remote, aloof, etc, & he was an introvert who insisted, paradoxically, that I be with him every moment he was at home:

Even if he was in the study, door closed, working on his hobbies, I wasn't to go out with friends or go to a movie.

After literally years of begging, I finally told him that if we didn't start doing something together at home & doing things outside the home, I had to leave, that I just couldn't live in an isolation chamber any longer.

& he agreed, & said sure, we'll do something.

& nothing happened.

Whatever plans I came up with were not exactly rejected, they just weren't acted on.

so I reminded him, several more times, of what I had said, that I was at the end of my rope, etc.

& he agreed.

every time, he agreed.

& nothing happened.

Finally, I left.

& he was stunned!


never saw it coming!

had no idea!

& I've heard the same story again & again-

"I told him & told him & told him.
I begged & pleaded.
I cried.
I threatened.
Finally, I walked out, & he was dumbfounded, told his mother he didn't know what had gotten into me..."

Had I met him at the door with keys in hand & said, "C'mon, we're going to wherever", maybe that would have worked.

or had I taken the study door off the hinges....

I think male brains evolved to respond to strong stimulus & direct threats, while female brains evolved to respond to nuances within the family & social group.

Had a husband said to his wife, "I can't stand this, I'm starving for company, & if we don't change the way we live, I'll have to leave to keep myself alive", his wife would have taken it very seriously & done something about it...
after she talked about it with all her sisters, her mother, her church group, & her internet forum friends!

A correllary (sp?) is that you gotta get their attention:
While women respond to whispered suggestions & murmured requests, men just don't hear that stuff.

they don't feel threatened by women, so they have the habit of ignoring us, keeping their energy available, as it were, to battle the bear that may burst through the door at any moment while all the women are whispering & murmuring.

If you really want a man to hear what you say, you have to say it in a way that gets his attention.
lots of noise, lots of physical motion, waving arms (is that why they like the flags at races & ball games?...)

One thing that works well is breaking plates-

if he doesn't give you a reasonable response the first time, yell, "Dam it!" & throw a plate against the wall.

That seems, to the male brain, like a crazy aggressive person...
just the kind of thing that males are programmed to notice!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 9:54AM
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The converse goes on in my house Sylvia. He threatens me and I say, just ask nicely! ;D

ifiknewthen, it's beginning to sound to like you feel as though you're the only one being responsible, and he fully expects it. That I get. If you ever figure out how to make them (men that is, except of course for asolo) grow up, let me know. In the meantime, you're not alone. It that helps any?..........

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 10:32AM
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He uses the communication that seems sensible to him, that would get through to his male brain-
direct, loud, & demanding-
& you respond with a request that he speak to you like you're a...female!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 3:05PM
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I think there's a lot of over generalization and gender stereo-typing going on here. I find usually both sexes are at least partially at fault when their relationship isn't great. Women can and are often just as harsh as men, can scream just as loud, throw just as many plates (or punches) and be just as controlling. This labeling is hogwash IMHO. My husband has asked me to ask him stuff nicely too? What does that mean? Last time I checked, he was still male.

And, I'm confused...if you're male and you yell, it's because that's how guys are are, but if you're female and you yell, it's because that's the only way men will listen to you. So, men get the blame for both men and woman yelling or acting aggressive? That just doesn't seem fair.

I don't agree with the stereo-typical "He's a guy", "He must...", "Guys think", "Guys do...", ... comments. It's not that gender info can never be useful, but it seems like it's often just getting to the point of negative stereo-typing and male bashing. I understand that some people have had very bad experiences with their male relationships, but that doesn't make all men dogs.

I have a feeing there's a lot more going on with this poster and her relationship(s?) than she has admitted. There's always two sides, and the one thing I've really noticed learning and have found very important about relationships is that there's "always more", a lot more, to the story.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 4:47PM
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I can relate to what Sylvia says about "women believe words, men actions". I think this is going on in my situation. Lots of action from my DH and me wanting words. This is a generalisation, as Carla says, and I am sure there are exceptions to the rule. Can men and women ever really get on, I wonder.

I think accepting, and recognizing what is going on, in your situation, is one step closer to solving the problems.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 6:14PM
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Thank you everyone very much for your input as it truly is appreciated.

As for there being any more to the story, I don't have too much more to offer other than what I already have so if there is something specific that you are wondering about that you feel would be helpful to this situation, then please just be blunt and ask. Otherwise, I'm not certain what else I'm not admitting to other than my husband drives me insane with his clingy, neediness. I do everything because that's the way he wanted it to be. I want balance in my life and have asked for advice on how to get it. I asked if it was a man thing. That's it. No more, no less.

So as popi said, if I accept and recognize that he is clingy and needy, I'll change my approach to the way things are done around here and delegate back to him the things that I don't have the time to do, and carve out some time for husband training and let the chips fall where they may.

Again, thank you everyone for all of your valuable comments!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 8:17PM
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If you & your spouse are in harmony & nobody feels frustrated or trivialized or marginalized, if nobody finds him/herself feeling rebuffed & angry, then...
you don't have the problem that I was talking about.

but if you do have a problem, hand him the toilet brush, take action, do whatever it takes to get his attention.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 8:57PM
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I think your words, Sylvia, have made me see my DH in different light, and understand myself a bit more. I thank you for your insight.

I know I need to hear "the words" but I think I need to speak up more, as well. I am going to look for the toilet brush, now !

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 9:14PM
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Can you get him to play golf? I know a lot of men who are just obsessed with the game. I LOVE Tuesday and Friday mornings. I'm getting him a membership for Christmas so he can play more.

How did his parents act toward each other? Was his dad clinging to his mom? I know my dad has to have my mom tell him what pants to put on today. Maybe he is unconsciously re-enacting the patterns he saw while growing up.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 2:22AM
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"Women believe words, men believe actions."

There is a lot of truth to this. Of course, both words and actions can be deceptive.

Women "of a certain age" tend to watch for actions to back up words.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 1:05AM
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Interesting thread.I kinda agree with Carla...I feel sorta bad for op's husband.Is he just lonely? Does he have any friends? What I'm asking is,is he up your butt because he just wants YOU,or does he just need interaction with SOMEONE?
Annoying,yes.But if that's your only least he isn't looking elsewhere for attention if you know what I mean?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 6:09AM
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Wow. I did a search for the subject matter and found this. I didn't know GW had a marriage forum.
I'm having the same problem and I'm wondering how "If" solved hers. I'm also in graduate school-- and it happens to have been extended an extra year because of my husband's neediness. I'm getting older and its getting harder. We've been together for seven years, married for about four.
I'm a very giving person and I was doing all the work outside and inside except for mowing the lawn. I even had to be the one to fix a leak and waterproof the cabinet under the sink because he didn't /wouldn't.
We had a crisis last summer, and I went into counseling. He went with me a couple times and things got a little better. But his neediness...ibecause it is rooted in something I know not what, it is always there and sometimes (like now) it comes back with a vengeance.
I'm all out of giving. I have nothing left...unless someone wants to visit me in the psych ward.

So hopefully "If" will chime in again or someone else maybe? I guess I just want another woman to talk to whose been there.

I married late in life and I thought I was very careful in a positive way about the man I finally said "yes" to. Some days (or a lot of days) I really wonder.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:22PM
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