Return to the Kitchens Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Posted by judithn (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 23, 07 at 12:20

Hi everyone, It's clear from various postings that any topic is fair game on this board, so I'm putting out for public discussion a problem I'm having. I am 44 and my husband is 48. We met in college and have been together for 22 years -- married for 20. We have two kids, ages 11 and 13. Here's what is frustrating me. During our entire relationship, my husband has pretty much never organized a single event or leisure activity for the two of us. In college we 'hung out' which, since we were broke, involved mostly drinking scotch and watching TV or listening to music. We never went on 'dates' per se. Fast forward a couple decades and it's still that way. Money is not a problem. My husband is a worldly, well-travelled, literate, upper-middle class professional. He has an M.B.A. and works at a well known international newspaper, so obviously planning is within his ability. Early on in our marriage, he insisted I was being 'romantic' and what I was asking for was baloney and 'Hollywood nonsense.' I now regret very strongly how I deferred to him on this. I know better now.

I decided it was time for a fresh start. I was very unhappy, and had seen a therapist who told me it was very important for the health of our marriage to do things together. Um, besides work and clean the house and rake the lawn and attend our children's parent teacher meetings. Over a year ago, we sat down and I made my wants perfectly clear. In very simple terms, I suggested we sit down with the calendar, and each pick one date each month to go out and do something fun together. I suggested we alternate. He would take on 6 of the dates and ditto for me. This is basically what the therapist suggested for us. I even suggested some places to look for ideas, like our local tourism office which sends out weekly updates or the weekend section of the newspaper. I really really did everything short of DOING IT MYSELF, AGAIN.

He agreed to everything, said 'you're right' and then, during the entire past year, didn't do a thing. I don't think he really gave it a second thought. Also, He said he'd plan our 20th wedding anniversary weekend, but I ended up doing that too. By the way, since we've had kids (our eldest is nearly 14) he has NEVER even called a babysitter. I do it all. It's like he thinks the only thing he's supposed to really do (and he does it well) is to make sure there's a roof over our heads and money in the bank. And as long as that's covered, he's done.

Finally this weekend, I realized more than a year had gone by since he'd agreed to arrange his babysitting and dates. 15 months, to be exact. I asked him about it. I don't exactly think waiting over a year for a guy to arrange a date is um, being high maintenance. I haven't nagged, by the way. Well, guess what? My husband, the same guy who says the most important thing in his life is his marriage, has no explanation about what happened. He was however, STUNNED. He said he felt he was looking down the barrel of a gun. Like my asking him left him on the ground bleeding. He said he'd obviously failed me and he was sorry. He's done THIS before too, and it hasn't changed a thing.

So, what am I supposed to do now? I'm willing to accept my role in this, which is to make excuses for his shortcomings in the area of showing some interest in the emotional side of our marriage, and how we spend leisure time or even renew our bonds. And Believe me, I'm not asking for champagne and caviar, lingerie and moonbeams. I just refuse to be the custodian and curator of EVERYTHING.

What do you guys think? Is there any hope?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Some guys are just like that! He probably just has these ideas about 'his role' as husband and father, and being romantic isn't part of his 'job description.' But if he's otherwise a great husband, I'd try not to let this become too big of an issue.

Are your kids mature enough to stay home alone for the length of time it takes the two of you to have a nice dinner out? If so, I'd just tell him that this coming Saturday night is 'date night' and it's his turn to plan -- flowers, dinner and a movie would be perfect. Make it easy for him to succeed, hard to fail. If needed, do some behind the scenes planning to smooth the way -- maybe find a movie you'd like to see or a restaurant you'd like to try and mention it to him. I'm thinking he doesn't have a clue and is turning this into a bigger 'chore' than it really is and is scared of letting you down.

And if you can't sneak out, date night at home is what we do regularly. Put the kids to bed early, or set them up with pizza and a DVD in another room, and you two have a romantic candlelight dinner somewhere else in the house. Steamed lobster and a bottle of wine is so easy... (Plus, I actually think it's great for the kids to see their parents treating each other in that special way also.)


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Oh boy - I gotta' think about this one. That subject certainly caught my attention though since I have some of these issues too. I think I'm more accepting of them than you seem to be - not at all saying you should be accepting of this though. Hmmmm........


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

If your husband is faithful, loving, and a good provider, then thank God that you found a solid man to marry. Is he a good father? A kind husband? You are a very fortunate woman if the answer is "yes."

Arrange every date if this is important to you, and if he goes with you and has a great time, then that is enough and consider it your job to maintain this aspect of your life. Be satisfied and make a decision to be happy about it. I believe that marriages are under a lot of pressure to be high maintenance, but that isn't everyone's cup of tea, a stressful job like your husband's might make him desire a very unstructured life outside of work.

The important thing is that you feel confident in your husband's love for you, it seems like this is the essence of your problem. Only by talking with him frequently and intimately about this can you move the relationship forward in a way that is good for both of you. Pressuring your husband to be someone he is not will drive a wedge between you. Don't look for everything to be 50-50. You don't know what the future holds. Change your expectations and you will be happier. And by the way, don't let a year pass before you are willing to address issues that are important to you. That's not good for anyone.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Well, I'm glad I waited to think about this because Sweeby and Cup articulated my thoughts very well. My DH is not into romantic events and in fact is quite "unemotional" on a day to day basis. I've been married 29 years and he's always been like this even when we were dating. Sometimes I'd like a little more of that sort of attention but I'm really pretty much over "wishing" for that kind of thing.

I've had talks with myself as Cup describes - where I've given alot of thought to what kind of person he is and what his strengths are. No one is perfect - seeking perfection in a spouse is a recipe for disaster. So I know I have to compromise on some things - that he isn't going to be exactly the way I want him to be. He has good values - is a caring, compassionate person - loves me alot - has stood by me in very difficult times - and I know he will do so until the end. He's just a really good person, we share alot of the same values, and we have a great life and a lot of fun. For all that I'm willing to forego the more romantic side of things.

I can empathize with what you're saying though as there have been times when I've wished for something different. I've come to accept things the way they are though and I'm very happy. I hope you can work through this and find the happiness you're looking for.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Gibby, Cup and Sweeby, Thanks for sharing your thoughts! At various times I have said to myself exactly the things you are writing here. Like you Sweeby, I've wished things were different, but have gone on going on.

I think one reason my discontent has re-emerged has to do with some of his actions over the past few years. Maybe it's getting harder to see those good qualities?

My husband has never really pursued a big time career. He was the guy in college who said 'why struggle for an 'A', a B is okay too." We both went to prestigious private colleges but neither of us were interested in the rat race. I would say our interests were always more intellectual (books, travel, cultural things) than material. For example, our main TV is the one my father gave to us 20 years ago! It's about a 17" screen and as clunky as can be. Not that I'm complaining. I don't care about those kinds of things.

Three years ago, my husband decided to do his M.B.A. part-time. He was not happy in his job and was looking for a way out, plus he'd always wanted an MBA. I understood this was a dream of his and since his company was offering to pay for 75% of the program, there wasn't so huge a financial blow. Knowing he wanted it really badly, I did everything I could humanly do to make his dream a reality. I removed every possible obstacle in his path, and handled every domestic issue big and small so he could go to classes and do school work all the time. I tried not to bother him with anything trivial about the children or the house. When he came home at 11 pm, he almost always came home to a bowl of fresh cut fruit or a sandwich, and a very sympathetic and supportive me! I would entertain him with stories about the children who, fact is, he hardly saw. I wanted him to have a connection with what was going on in their lives.

Then, this past January, the same week he finished his MBA (I am NOT kidding, literally the same WEEK!) he was offered a new job with a consulting company. The newspaper project is with this consultancy. I was not keen on the job as it was described to me. I was burnt out on this sorta kinda single Mom-hood stuff. I knew the job meant he would be away from home Monday through Thursday night every week, and sometimes longer. But again, he wanted it badly and I wouldn't stand in the way of his happiness.

Now, here we are. He travels between Boston and New York. He loves the work. He also loves the lifestyle. We have friends in both cities and while I believe he's working hard, he's also enjoy a much more active social life than he'd have had at home. You can do anything you want on his expense account, and live rather comfortably in posh hotels.

Meanwhile, I'm at home running the household, taking care of the children, and managing a pretty major renovation that includes but is not limited to the kitchen. We're going on four months without a working kitchen. I have tried to work. I'm a writer, my work has appeared in regional and national magazines, but that's dribbled away in the face of competing demands.

So, I'm thinking it would be a nice thing if my husband did something thoughtful during the small amount of time available on weekends. The two of us sometimes sneak out to the local coffee shop while our children are in religious school, but that's all. He is annoyed with me by the way, he says I'm being needy and that our marriage is a 'non-career-enhancing-situation' for him.

This is awfully long, but as I write this things do become clearer. I guess I'm tired from having rearranged our family life to suit his recently discovered ambitions and carrying the load at home alone. He has always been verbally appreciative, complimenting my cooking or saying he loves me but at the moment what I'd like is an actual demonstration of some appreciation. By the way, I'm not looking for 50-50. But it would be nice if once in a while, every other month, he could rise to the challenge I've posed for him, just as I've risen to the challenges he's made for me.

Does that change your assessments of the situation?


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

judithn,

wait a minute..."he said our marriage is a 'non-career-enhancing situation' for him" -- am I misreading this? Does he really mean that since it won't advance his career, that he thinks it is not worth his attention?

Just want to make sure.

I broke off a long-term relationship (10 years, high school through my first graduate degree) because my S.O. at the time didn't think that you needed to feed or care for a relationship while in grad school. He thought he could basically put it on ice and I'd just "be there" whenever he had the time. My graduate career was also completely at the beck and call of his, as we had one car and I had to drive him to the train station (he commuted into NYC, I commuted into New Haven) and pick him up. Never said thank you once for that for three years. Just a small indicator of the degree to which I and my career were being taken for granted/disrespected.

I remembered the Annie Hall analogy: the shark has to keep swimming forever or it dies. What we had on our hands was...

But we didn't have kids...

But before I say anymore, I just want to make sure I understand what he means by "non career enhancing situation"...


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Gosh Flyleft, Now that you ask, I'm not sure what he did mean! In that moment, it seemed to be an untrue and belittling description of what I have done to help him succeed. I never thought his disinterest in contributing to the emotional health of our marriage might relate to the fact that if it doesn't advance his career, why bother? Mine was a more innocent interpretation: male insensitivity. And the belief consciously or not, that it's the wife's job to handle the emotional content of the marriage. I must say, your interpretation puts a creepy but very interesting new spin on things!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I was brought up short at exactly the same point that flyleft was. It would be good to ask him just what a career-advancing marriage is, then? Marrying Rupert Murdoch's or Joe Klein's daughters perhaps ;-) (latter would be tougher, I'll grant)

Up until then, while I do sympathize with your need for a change from single-parent-dom & for supporting him and enabling *his* "career-advancing" venture, I did rather have some sympathy for him too. I know that at the end of grad school *I* was exhausted and really completely totally inside-out tired. (Admittedly, I harvested a few long degrees in grad school and it went on for a good 6.5 years, but still ...) Energized in some ways too, but quite thoroughly tired. & I wasn't working and didn't have a wife (or husband) & kids to deal with either. My first reading was that he must be mentally tired too from going to school while working and with a family to boot.

I *would* get to the bottom of his "non-career advancing proposition", before doing much else. You have children. In my opinion, it is not setting a particularly good model for children to have them see one person/parent sacrificed for another. Sacrifice is very much something that lies in the eye of the beholder I suppose, but either way, the take away message can be quite unfortunate.

Lastly, non-career advancing marriages aside (I truly know of only one career-advancing marriage and who knows, maybe I'm being uncharitable and the couple in question really do love each other ;-) ) this could be about you too. You've said that your writings have all but ceased. If you do/did have a vocation, romantic overtures or not, it has got to be quite dispiriting to see your life outside the home dwindle. Your husband grabbed life by the reins when he signed up for his MBA. It was obviously not a cushy process for him going through it. I'd strongly encourage you to reconnect with and build your writing mojo back up. There is definitely a sense of identify and strength that comes with having your own sphere of which you have control or getting your work published ... .


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith - your situation sounds like many negatives and few positives - I think you do need to objectively ask yourself what his redeeming qualities are along with all the negatives you point out. If there truly are few/none and he is unwilling to do anything to change that, then maybe there is real trouble here.

I will add though that both DH and I have spent many years doing the Mon-Thu travel gig. It's not all it's cracked up to be. The novelty of that may wear off soon.

I will also add that we do not have kids. So while DH may pursue his interests to some exclusion of my romantic needs, I may be able to "take care" of myself more easily than you can since you are also caring for your children. I feel like I have a "thankless" job sometimes - working at a demanding job and doing pretty much everything to take care of two homes. However that doesn't seem like much to me compared to raising children. I have an idea though what you're saying about being taken for granted with no sign of appreciation. Do you think your frustration is more about that rather than the lack of romantic outings?


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I'm really shocked by all of your responses. What's the point of being married if there is no romantic gestures from your husband. Most women can support themselves financially. The whole point of being married is to have a partner who is your best friend.
"You teach people how to treat you", and you have taught your husband that he can take you for granted. You have set the bar too low for him, you need to raise the bar. When men are too comfortable with you and they know you won't go anywhere they don't put forth much effort.
You should re-read your last post. What you describe is a woman that has bended for this man over and over again. You supported him emotionally time and time again. What has he done for you?
He sounds like he has a active social life Mon-Thurs while you take care of everything at home.
I don't know how you can fix this problem. It sounds like it has been going on for a long time. You may not be able to change him but you can change yourself. Stop being his housekeeper. Start doing things for yourself. Join a gym, go to a play with friends, take a class. Enjoy your life. Hopefully when he sees a more confident woman he will find he has to romance her to keep her happy.
Good luck,
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith, I'm sorry you're going through this. It sounds really hard, and I'm sad that you've been going through so many years of hurt and longing. If you don't mind my offering a couple of thoughts as I read your words...

There are a couple of principles that are true for nearly every kind of conflict or disagreement between people:

1) As my husband likes to say, "The 'issue' is rarely the issue." In other words, the surface issue may be one thing, such as not planning alone/romantic time together. But beneath that is almost always a deeper issue. Perhaps you've begun to tap into that by hearing his comment about marriage being a non-career-enhancing situation or by recognizing that there's an ongoing pattern of how you interact together around this issue? Regardless, though, there seems to be more in your relationship that this cycle of you asking/him promising/him not delivering/you feeling hurt/him saying the words but not changing the behaviors, etc. is pointing to than simply date nights. The only way to get this stuff to change will be to work at finding the issues that are underlying.

2) When disagreement occurs it's never 100% the fault of one person. Although it may not seem apparent at first, when you begin to dissect the processes two people are going through, you'll find that both people play into the conflict in some way. It may not be 50-50, but there's always at least some small percentage that one person is contributing. Often being able to discover the part that I'm playing and working to change that first (instead of focusing my energies on how I'd like the other person to be different) will cause the other to come around and do things differently on their end.

Again, Judith, I'm really sorry you're having to deal with this. A good therapist will be able to help you both get to the deeper stuff between you and your husband in ways that go beyond simply making lists of what you need from each other (although that can be a good place to start for some).

It just so happens that your kind of question deals with some things that I have a bit of professional experience with. If you're a book reader, a couple of marriage resources that I really like are the books, "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail," by John Gottman, and "Getting the Love You Want," by Harville Hendrix.

I hope that you both will be able to get to the core of what's going on...sometimes, although it can be a painful process, walking this road together can be the best thing for renewing a marriage.

Halfdecaf


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

halfdecalf,
You always have such wonderful insights. I saw a Oprah show with Harville Hendrix. He has marriage workshops that have a great success rate. That would be worth looking into.
Judith, we are all in your corner.
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Thank you for all your responses. I am glad for every single one. Reading them is giving me a lot to think about. You know, for someone whose been married a long time and thinks they're pretty smart about things I'm feeling like an big idiot!

Thank you organic donna for supporting that a romantic component is a vital part of marriage for some. Everyone has the right to decide for themselves what they need to be happy. I can't share my life with someone who does not value my companionship enough to, on occasion, arrange activities that demonstrate an actual commitment to keeping an emotional connection with his wife, alive.

Thank you mindstorm for your suggestion that I revive my writing. Actually, I'd already begun that process. Even after the 'gap' in my resume, a nationally known researcher in Boston has invited me to develop a new book with her about her research on women's sexuality. I was also just recently asked to write an essay for a magazine produced by an urban planning and development think tank. Thinking about these two opportunities lifts my mood a little.

gibby -- I don't know if the novelty of the Monday-Thursday thing will wear off. Right now, he's having a ball enjoying the freedoms of bachelorhood with the advantages of marriage.

Anyway, I have to take the kids out to dinner now (no kitchen, remember) but I will get to the bottom of that 'non-career-enhancing-marriage' comment before going any further with this. I have too keep on reminding myself my husband might be thoughtless and insensitive, but I have not known him to be deliberately mean.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Thanks for your encouraging words, Donna. Your check's in the mail! ;)


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

judith, I didn't want to imply that your DH was being "deliberately mean" by making that comment--it may really reflect what he's thinking, just pure and simple..that his job is to work on his career and yours is to do everything else in the marriage? or something like that and so you should just buck up and do "your part" like he's doing his?

I had mentioned my former relationship as an example of someone who honestly thought that you could ignore someone for years on end if you were working on your profession. That it was right to do so. (should I mention that he was in a clinical psych doctoral program? No, that would be snarky ;))

I will say that the label "needy" is not exactly a remark designed to be encouraging of further sharing...it pretty much boxes you in, strategically, iykwim, makes it so that he can dismiss anything you say as "oh, that's just Judith being needy"...again, not from a deliberately mean standpoint, but from a "need", as it were, to categorize and distance.

HANG IN THERE! Have a great dinner and give yourself at least some kind of indulgence tonight, because if we were there we'd be getting you some jasmine tea and scones or whatever you like best :)


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Halfdecaf - I concur with Donna - you make some excellent points. Judith - the way you describe it, it does sound as though everything is being sucked right out of you and you're receiving nothing in return. Romance aside, the way you describe it things like mutual compassion, love and support are missing too?? I'd think he was having some kind of mid-life crisis but the way you depict it, he's always been this way. Do keep us posted - I'll be wondering how you're doing now....


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Flyleft, I was very glad you shared the story about your former relationship! It was very generous of you to relay it here for me. I understand what you mean, that the phrase could be what he's really thinking. I am sure it is what he was really thinking or he wouldn't have said it. What it means exactly, I'm not sure. That's what I have to find out. By the by, I can't believe your ex was in a clinical psych program! Wow! That defies reason.

Halfdecaf, Yes, he has always been this way, at least where showing interest in the care and feeding of a marriage has been. The focus on career is entirely wierdly sudden. The entire time I've known him, he's totally rejected 'big' careers. He's wanted to keep things small, controllable, and balance his work and family. Maybe the MBA put a fire under him, maybe he is having some mid-life rejiggering of the mental apparatus. Being high achieving, being partner in his firm for example, not something he's ever said he wanted, until now. I'm totally caught off-guard and frankly, angry by this sudden about face. I'm being held now to a performance standard I knew nothing about? This is what I think he meant by the phrase non-career-enhancing-marriage: You're either with me or against me. And being 'with' me means you just keep doing everything at home with a smile on your face. Gosh. Can you say Stepford Wife?

Why has this come to a head now? Perhaps I was more willing to cover for him when he wasn't simultaneously demanding so many other things from me. I see now I was operating out of the stupid assumption that eventually he'd do the same for me as I'd done for him. I mean, for his 40th I threw him a huge party with friends flying in from literally around the world. For my 40th, I got nada. Not a card, not a cake, nothing. I wept for three days. Hey, it worked! I've gotten a card and a cake for every birthday since. Yippee!

So yes, I'm an idiot. It's taken a mere 20 years to finally realize my genius plan isn't working! Maybe I haven't valued myself enough. Maybe I was too quick to believe him when dismissed my needs as juvenile Hollywood fantasy. Or, maybe I'm just at an age where I realize I haven't all the time in the world anymore and don't want to wait another 20 years hoping for more and probably not getting it.

Ugh. This is all too horrible really. I'm going to go look at my children and then hit the sack.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

((((Judith))))


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith, a bit dizzying to see the range of responses from the early 'be thankful he is a good husband', to, well, let's just say if he were to wander into our little party here he'd be having some fingers poked into his chest and have some 'splainin' to do. Clearly he has not been making much effort to meet your needs or to make you happy. That hurts.

I feel for you having this awakening and now having to figure out what it means. And what to do.

Don't dwell too much on feeling you are "an idiot". All you did was give your all. That's what you are supposed to do in a marraige. You didn't do anything wrong or stupid. He just hasn't done his part.

Tough question: Any concern he may be having an affair?


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Wow, what a discussion. Not an easy one and I can empathize with your feelings judith, I have a very career oriented dh and unromantic also . One short term solution I can see for you, would be on your concentrating on pampering yourself, finding a way to make yourself feel special, not counting on your DH to play this role.

It seems pretty clear that your DH is not going to plan those date nights and organize them; are you going to be resentful forever until he does ?

Maintaining house and kids is hard work and crucial to the advancement of the breadwinner's career, you do need recognition for that ! waiting and expecting for someone to give you that recognition can be futile and build resentment,
you are the best person suited for the job of rewarding yourself.

Your focus seems to be on him and what he's NOT doing for you; turn your focus on yourself, go overboard on yourself, get babysitting during the week so you can have half days at the spa, whatever could give you free time to indulge and reflect.

Be persistent and plan those date nights, who cares who does the planning and reservations, as long as they happen. I don't really know what's going on inside your head and my advice might seem ridiculous to you but for me, I stopped having expectations and worked out what made me feel good.

Accepting what you can't change is so hard; I do hope you find a way to make yourself feel better and happier, I don't believe waiting for someone else to do it for you is the solution, even if it's your life companion.
My mom is 78 and still waiting for my dad to change; I guess I had a good example of what not to do and what not to expect.
Evaluating what you love about your partner and focusing on that could help, if you can get past what he doesn't do for you, that's the hard part, lol....

I remember when my kids were young teens, not an easy time as far as everyone being selfish and into their own needs, it's easy to lose yourself in that role of keeping everyone together.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Sigh. I called my husband last night to ask him to explain that 'non-career'enhancing-marriage' comment. Basically, he said that every time he's worked hard at a job, I put the brakes on by asking him to be home. That every time he's working hard I get 'needy.' That everytime he's been in a position to achieve something professionally, he has to scale down because 'my family can't handle it.' He says if I were 'better' at controlling the 'spin' on his work schedule by telling the kids they are silly for wishing their Dad were home, they'd be fine. He also believes I am emotionally unstable and apparently he's given up all his potential career accomplishments by taking jobs that are beneath him in order to be home and make sure I don't just entirely erupt.

I cannot even begin to comment. Yes I'm furious at what I feel is a total mischaracterization of my goals and motives. I also feel I'm obviously missing something. I feel I need to keep asking: can you explain that just oh, like ten more times? Because I'm not getting it. He's got some powerful story going on about this situation that I'm not buying. I'm also extraordinarily annoyed by how easily he overlooks that he might be the main earner, but that most everything else: his family life, social life, nice vacations, a lovely home, great gardens, healthy and (mostly) happy kids, special meals, holidays, parties, etc., is because of me.

This is turning into Lifetime for Women movie, isn't it.

But really, I get it. This is serious. My husband is coming home tomorrow. Yes, on Wednesday! He asked "what are you doing tomorrow?" So ironically, he has made some sort of plan for us to do something together. OMG. I have no idea what he expects. Gratitude? Fortunately, I have an appointment with a therapist tomorrow afternoon, right after that.

celticmoon, I asked if he's having a 'bit on the side,' and he denied it. No, he didn't swear on a stack of bibles, but an affair doesn't seem like him. Well, at least not like any former version of him!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I think the communication is open and that's excellent; even after this conversation, he'll reflect on what he said and you said. I think that if he only acknowledged and validated the great job you do, that would be a giant step in your well being. It's too easy to blame another person for our shortcomings, which I think is what he's doing unintentionally.

good luck in all this, keep up the hope.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

judith,
Whatever you do remember this, YOU ARE NOT AN IDIOT. I have been in your shoes, not with my ex husband, but with many men that I dated. My ex husband and I remained very close friends after our divorce. He lives in my building! Anyway, I felt guilty for many years after our divorce because I was the one who wanted the divorce. So one day I'm going on and on to him about how guilty I feel and how I ruined his life. So He tells to me, I wasn't perfect either. "I was having an affair for the first two years of our marriage with my first wife! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had no clue at all. I still feel stupid. I've known this man for 22yrs. I trusted him totally.
I'm not implying that your DH is having an affair. Just trying to point out that we have all been duped at some time, whether a husband or boyfriend.
You have a lot to figure out. The most important thing is to start putting yourself first. You have made your husband number one. He has to now be number two.
We are all here for you,
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Sounds like he is absolutely seething with resentment toward you. If he really views you (and your marraige together) as an impediment, no wonder he is so withholding. I'm thinking it will be difficult to elicit any genuine affection and validation until he addresses that core (toxic) attitude.

Can your therapist arm you with a list of marital counselors? Just in case the talking between you goes poorly.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

He asked "what are you doing tomorrow?" So ironically, he has made some sort of plan for us to do something together."

Have you asked him if he has planned something for the two of you? Maybe it would be a good idea to ask him. You mention "ironically" he has made some sort of plan and sound surprised that he's coming home on a Wednesday. From the sounds of it this is not something he would normally do. I wouldn't assume that he's coming home to make "nice-nice". Just a word of caution. Don't let yourself be taken by surprise or blindsided if he comes home to discuss the situation and the content is less than favorable. I get the sense that this might not be a good thing. My thoughts are with you. Stay the strong and level-headed woman you are.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I'm sorry that you are going through this challenge in your marriage. Please be prepared for Wed. He's not coming home to suprise you with some sort of romantic gesture, like you've asked from him. He's coming home to have "a talk". How this talk progresses is only partly up to you and mostly up to him. Ask yourself - what is it you want from life? Not that I think your requests are unreasonable, they are not - but there is way more going on here than "I want you to arrange for a dinner date 6 times a year".

Please think about what you have, what he has, what you both want and possible compromises that will meet both your needs. Be prepared to go to marriage counceling.

Good luck and best wishes.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith,

Seriously, I would focus on the career again instead of worrying about romance.

Basically, it sounds from your last post that your DH has left the building. He not only wants out from feeding the marriage, he wants out from being a Dad, too. Your last discussion seems to point to that.

Tactically I'm going to offer a suggesion, and you may not like the suggestion so consider yourself warned. Your DH quite selfishly had you attend to all aspects of his care and feeding outside of his own career development and he'd like you to continue to do so. Well, I'd suggest that you selfishly use this time - and the financial resources that he is furnishing you with so that you don't have to worry about food, clothing, shelter - to re-establish your own footprint in your area of expertise. Make the contacts, get some projects out (recent - it counts for a lot), build your rolodex back up so that you are very much a known entity in whichever sphere of publishing you would interface with. And then, if your DH still thinks that you need to be 'managing spin' for him with his children, you can oblige him by taking what to me would be the next logical step.

I can't get over the language he's used ... It is worse IMO than all the F-words put together. And for what it's worth, you are very patient and very forgiving - I would not want this man romancing me. I felt the same way celticmoon had, btw, & I'll go further than that to say that this is a way of him pushing you away so that you *want* to leave rather than him being the bad guy when he says he's movin' on.

I agree with the others - brace yourself with seatbelts on for this meeting. I hope that it will be good and tender and conciliatory but ... then again, it may not. Not after the list of your transgressions that he read out to you yesterday.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Hi Judith...I do hope you had something special for you last night. It sounds completely silly, I know, but sometimes something to remind you that you have the right to do things just for you, because you like them, can be *so* reality-grounding. *Not* a silly thing at all.

Wow, I agree with you completely that he's written some story in his head that is driving all this now. All this sudden, seductive career advancement is going to his head, IMO. It's like an affair with his work, iykwim, making him forget his family and kids and everything else that surrounds him when he's not in that hotel room. (e.g. why is it up to *you* to explain *his* work schedule? Can't he talk to his kids too? Does he talk to them often between Monday and Thursday?)

Those stories/affairs can be powerful delusions until sometimes people have lost what they took for granted and they wake up and want to kick themselves with regret for being so blinded. The stories are especially easy to write when one is on one's own, away from the rest of one's life, as your DH is now.

I hope he can wake up from that delusion, maybe with the help of a good marital counselor, if he'll go. I second what geogirl says about maybe using today to think out ahead of time what you want and what possible compromises could work to meet both your needs, whether or not he ends up agreeing to go. And I don't just mean romantic needs; I mean individual-identity needs and financial ones as well.

For instance, If you want to stay married and hope he comes to his senses, you definitely need to make time to exist as your own being somehow within it and not be constantly administering life support to the marriage all by yourself. It wouldn't be the dream of the mutually-romantic marriage you had before, but some people actually design marriages like this--it gives them room to live individual lives and maybe intersect at mutually convenient points. I'm not kidding; I've seen it. There are all kinds of relationships in the world.

Also, sometimes people can work themselves out of a delusion if it's pointed out to them and they're given enough room. Sometimes not. You could choose to give him whatever amount of time *you* want for him to work it out, while you're redeveloping your ability to earn income and support yourself in case he doesn't make progress. Why not let his vaunted breadwinner status work for *you*, too? Letting your kids see you begin to work again (while explaining that it's not about avoiding *them*) is a great model. Plenty of married women always keep a hand in the workplace so that *if* something happens, they won't be caught short. You could get your connections going again and get some money coming in (you're so lucky to have folks asking you to write!) so as to get a running start on a successful strong life with your kids if he can't work himself out of that story to a realistic appreciation and balance of effort.

...Isn't it amazing how these online communities end up being sometimes a source of support and perspective for issues that you *can't* bring up with RL friends yet or don't want to have the history of addressing within your circle of RL acquaintance? And I don't just mean letting your friends know that you are the kind of person who could actually obsess over a Tapmaster :) but the bigger things too...

Sending you whatever your version is of jasmine tea and scones :)


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

mindstorm, either great minds think alike or fools never differ ;)


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I re-read your post and I just wanted to add something. You said, "I'm also extraordinarily annoyed by how easily he overlooks that he might be the main earner, but that most everything else: his family life, social life, nice vacations, a lovely home, great gardens, healthy and (mostly) happy kids, special meals, holidays, parties, etc., is because of me." It seems to me that these are things you value, but he does not. He doesn't really care about the lovely home or the great gardens (he's rarely there to enjoy them), or the friends or dinner parties (are they his friends or are they your friends that he socializes with occasionally). He might have thought he valued these things at some point. Or he might have thought that these things were suppose to be important to him, but he finds that they aren't.

I know my husband doesn't value 100 % the same things as I do. We are on the same page about kids, family and travel. We are definelty not on the same page with home, gardens, friends, clothes, cars - the more material things. We could live in a run down apartment with holes in our clothes for all he cares. As long as he has his family and "adult fun - wink, wink" on a regular basis, he's pretty darn happy! Me, not so much! The difference though, is that we know this about each other and act accordingly (well, most of the time!).

Be prepared. Listen to what he values now. It might not be what you thought he did. It sounds like he removed himself emotionally from your home, from you, from his kids, a long time ago.

Best of luck.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Oh Judith, I'm so sorry you are going through all this. It does seem as though the situation has kind of "cracked open" and perhaps you will now start to get to the bottom of what the real problem is. There is obviously a major disconnect between the two of you, what is important to each of you and whether those needs and desires are at all in sync or ever can be. It sounds as though you have spent a lot of time looking after and taking care of everything and everyone but you. As others have said, it is really important that you do look out for yourself and make you a higher priority as you deal with this. My heart goes out to you - sounds like a very difficult situation - far more complex than being romantic/not.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Oh dear... After reading your more recent posts, the term that comes to mind is 'narcissist'. It sounds like your DH is off on some glamorous 'jet set' ego trip, and his hurtful, self-serving words make it sound like it's all your fault that he didn't experience 'brilliant success' before, and he'd be even more 'brilliant successful' if he weren't strapped with all these burdens. Sorry, but I've also got to wonder if some admiring young thing isn't feeding that ego. The man you married sounded like he had better balance than that.

Geogirl picked up on the exact same phrase I did - "I'm also extraordinarily annoyed by how easily he overlooks that he might be the main earner, but that most everything else: his family life, social life, nice vacations, a lovely home, great gardens, healthy and (mostly) happy kids, special meals, holidays, parties, etc., is because of me." This is so true! His career may be floating his boat right now, but what he's forgetting is that he's leaving his real life behind. I hope he does value it enough to change his ways, but sometimes, men who have been shielded from too much responsibility at home don't realize quite how much work is involved in running a pleasant, well-functioning household, and not appreciate it in time.

I'm crossing my fingers for you --


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Hi everyone,
Let's not jump to too many conclusions. We are going to upset Judith. We are drawing our conclusions based on what Judith has told us about her DH. I agree he sounds very self centered at the moment. He asked her if she would be available on Wednesday. We took that statement and ran with it. We are projecting all kinds of bad news. Let's not get Judith so upset that she draws conclusions that might not be true.
Judith, I think you have an idea that you have a serious problem. Don't over think this just yet. You will have your answers soon enough. In the meantime try and stay calm and centered.
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Ditto on Donna's words. I don't think any of us is in a position to know what's really going on in this situation. But, Judith, I can tell that a lot of folks are pulling for you. Me too.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I agree with Donna; we don't really know what's going on and we should not jump to conclusions. Judith needs our support, not speculation. Good luck with everything, Judith.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Donna ~ thank you for your voice of reason. You're right. None of us should assume anything at this point. I think what has happened is that, based on Judith's posts, we're all concerned about her situation and this is how we're projecting it.

Judith ~ I want to apologize for making any assumptions or comments that may have added to your already upset state. I wish you the best, and pelase know that I'm thinking about you and hope that everything goes well.

Nora


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I'm coming in late to this thread but after reading it through, the phrase that I could most identify with was:

he's having a ball enjoying the freedoms of bachelorhood with the advantages of marriage.

This was the exact problem I had with my husband shortly after we got married, and it was the thing that broke up his first marriage. He wanted to have a wife, home cooked meals, family life, etc, when he wanted to and then go out and do whatever he wanted to (on his own) whenever he wanted to, night after night.

My response was, if you wanted to live the single life, why get married? This all began happening about a year after we got married and that's about the time I realized he'd done the same thing in the first marriage. His first wife put up with it for a while, then when she'd had enough, she moved on. His attitude was sort of, take me as I am, this is how it is. I don't think he actually realized there was a possibility she wouldn't.

I, however, was not at all prepared to put up with that. It took a lot of work and he really wanted our marriage to work so we were able to come to an understanding about what it meant to be a husband and step father. I told him that I would never force him to be at home, or to participate as a member of the family, but that if he chose the single lifestyle then he might as well be single and that would be HIS choice.

Here's what I'm wondering -- all the things you do and have done, are they things you did because you wanted to? Because you felt they were your duty? Because you felt they were expected? Has he ever asked you to do any of these things -- especially the extra support and effort you put forth when he was getting his MBA? Has he ever said he appreciates the things you do? Has he ever thanked you for your efforts?

Part of the reason I didn't read this thread before was that I figured it was about whether husbands bring flowers, compliment their wives, etc. And my husband (mostly) doesn't do that kind of stuff. HOWEVER, he does treat me with respect, he does appreciate what I do, and he does try to undertand my point of view. And vice versa.

I will say that I definitely agree with the advice above to get your own life and career in order, and at the same time, try to work things out with him. See a marriage counselor if he will go with you, get a dialog going to find out what he expects, values, appreciates in your relationship because it sounds to me like you and he are not on the same page on these basic issues. I hope things can and do work out between the two of you. But if they don't, do what you have to do to be happy and make your life better. It's worth it.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Hi all, Thanks for all your suggestions and advice, I am overwhelmed and grateful for your support, wisdom, insight, and life experience. Today, instead of working, I had a lovely walk, a sandwich at a local coffee shop, and stopped to smell the many proverbial roses. I've just been really sad today, basically realizing that I've been having this marriage all by myself, doing the job of a husband and a wife. I've made some very poor choices,

Thanks Mindstorm for bringing up the matter of a job. My husband also said "get a job," though I think he thinks if I had less time, he'd be less scrutinized. You know, keep the wife too insanely busy to think. When he said it I was like "why? So I can have the burden of taking care of everything at home and have office pressures to also contend with?" But yes, it's looking like a necessary step.

I really don't know how to do it since summer is coming and the kids are out of school. I have signed them up for some little day camp things, but not enough hours for a working mother. And obviously, I don't have any back up from my husband as he's far away most of the time. So sick kids, medical emergencies, having to figure out how to get coverage with child care if I have to work -- these are all the problems I never expected. I don't have any nearby family either.

And I love writing, but it's a poverty level job. I know no one's really using the big 'D' word, but if that happens, I'll need to get a real job which means back to writing ad copy or working in corporate communications, my previous careers.

Geogirl, I hear what you're saying that he might not expect good meals, a clean house, a well-set dinner table, fresh flowers here and there, clean and nicely dressed kids, etc., but I think one of my attractions for him were probably those things. He always craved that kind of family life, his own homelife growing up was fairly chaotic and unloving. It was important to him to have it in his marriage and for his children. No, squalor is not his style at all. Oh, and the people we have over are never just my friends. It's always people we both know and like.

But GG you got me thinking the value we might no longer share is what we want in a marriage and what we are willing to give to the marriage. Everyone who says there's more going on here than the need for a 'date' is right.

No matter what happens, whether he appreciates all the supportive and loving things I've done or not, I will always be very proud of the work I've done raising my kids. The fact that they have had me anchoring them and a warm and secure home is one of the reasons they're so totally sane. I will also always be proud of the work I've done in my community, which has helped the library, stopped development, and mediated homeowner disputes. And I will always know in my heart that what happens at home is, for me, always going to be more important then what happens at work, no matter how big the paycheck or the office.

I think that whole life is over for me. Sorry if that sounds fatalistic, but that's how it feels.

I called to ask what tomorrow's plan is and he said it's lunch and it's at 11:30. After that, what happens is anyone's guess. It might not make sense but I'm so mad at him that it's making me scared.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I think that everyone's comments and advice have been helpful to Judith. We are a group of women with a lot of personal knowledge and experience. We may only be cyber friends but we care about each other and always try and help. Let's hope that this can be worked out between Judith and DH. The most important thing is that Judith can come to us and we won't ever judge her actions. We are 100% on her side.
We have strength as a group of mature woman and will give that strength to Judith if the time comes.
Donna


 o
RE:judith

Judith,
Your message posted while I was writing mine. I didn't mean to be talking about you when you are right here.
Judith, We have all made some poor choices in our lives. I am constantly regretting my decision not to have children. I regret sometimes getting divorced. I always regret the career that I chose.
You have a lot to be proud of in your life. If all you ever did in your life was to be a good mom, then you had a successful life.
Good Luck on Wednesday, we'll be pulling for you.
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith,

I just read through all of the and all I can say is my heart goes out to you. So many of us have been in your situation and boy it's not easy. Whatever happens remember you will make it through and go on to be happy again. It sounds like you have done everything that a wife and mother could possibly do to have a good marriage and a happy home but that said people change and grow and sometimes not in the same direction.

It sounds like you have thought of the worst outcome. Nobody likes to think of the "D" word but there really is a light at the end of that tunnel. Not an easy road but so many have traveled it and I don't know anyone who hasn't come through and not made a happier life for themselves.

Someone said you have to ask yourself if your life is better with him or better without him, Ann Landers I think?, All any of us can do is out best. So first make yourself happy and your children will be happy if you are.

Take care of yourself and come here for support or just to vent. So much wisdom here it always amazes me. You will be in my thought tomorrow.

(((Hugs)))

Claudia


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith, I really do feel for you and I *do* hope it goes well for you tomorrow.

Also, my suggestion is to restart your career, not "get a job". Your career should be something that you are excited about doing - it doesn't matter if it is a "poverty level job". You want to do what you are skilled at, what you are good at, what you think will impact and contribute to society, and in a way that will get you recognition for that contribution. Don't let financial flow-down drive you just now.

In your second or third posts you alluded to some writing opportunities that you are excited about. IMO, you should jump in with both feet - both sound like amazing "career-building" opportunities if you (a) enjoy the work and (b) are willing to work hard to realize the opportunities that are being handed to you. It shouldn't (generally) feel like a chore and you shouldn't view it as "a job" but rather as exactly how you described it to us, up above - something that you are genuinely excited about without regard to that invitation's pecuniary ramifications.

In addition to your writing contributions, it sounds like you have the drive and the gumption to be a substantial problem-solver for your community. That alone is quite an asset that you can tap into. Is there some policy or process that you have instituted in your community that can be useful to other communities? some new facility you've enabled that it would behoove others to know about or basically some lesson learned that should be documented for posterity? If so, why not publicize it - either in a community newsletter or submit it to a larger publication for wider circulation? In the course of working with the local community, you may have made contact with some people of influence. Get advocacy from them - tell them that this XYZ community project that they helped you with etc. is something that should be publicized and it would be good to be pro-active about circulating information on how you guys made it happen for other communities? That it would great visibility for the town etc and would they collaborate with you in publicizing this ...? Bottom line, capitalize on what you've done to make contacts and circulate your name as a do-er. The circulation isn't the end goal - talking to people will let you tell them what you are good at and what you want to do and it can help open doors for you to do the sort of writing you want. Hopefully.

In the meantime, you've already got two projects. Yay!

Basically, I'm saying - build your career with something that you are excited about, don't just "get a job".

Also, I just wanted to say to some of the other very sensible posters - I also firmly believe that you can't take sides based on one person's narrative of events. However, words like "non-career enhancing marriage" and "manage the spin with the kids" are simply not words that - 9 times out of 10 - require another perspective. There certainly are cases where such a choice of words are sympathetic but most reasonable disagreements don't rise to that level. I mean to say, I don't imagine Judith is having a very public extra-marital lesbian affair (a la a certain NE guv'nor), nor is she flouncing around country clubs in catwoman outfits or something like it - although she could be, I suppose. Both would, I'll concede, genuinely embarrass spousal career ambitions and prudence would certainly have been justified on my part and those of us going "whoa!". As it stands however, I'll reiterate my position that ... something's rotten in the state of Denmark.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Good luck today, may it be a positive spin on things.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Good morning, Judith. Know there are a lot of folks thinking about you this morning and beaming you support.

You have had me thinking a lot about marraige. Bottom line perhaps isn't the romantic gestures or dates, but the knowing, the absolutely sure *knowing*, that you are in it together. On the same side. Maybe why some posters have said here that they've accommodated to their partners doing this or not doing that. People aren't perfect and marraiges sure aren't either. As long as there is a core of mutual respect and commitment and caring, there's room for lots of warts.

I'll tell you a story. Once DH called stranded on a fishing trip when his brother acccidentally left with his car keys. I rescued him. Later he said, "You know, you didn't even hesitate a split second on the phone, and said you'd come. That felt really good. To know you'd help me without question." (No need to explore what horrid routine behaviors I exhibit to have him think I would leave him in the woods. Hopefully he expected just a bit o complaining or blame, not actual outright abandonment.) Anyway, it was one of those moments that made clear how important it is to *know* that when the chips are down, your partner will be there for you. Do what you need them to do. Be on your side. No questions.

Both of us since have made it a point to be more overt about that bottom line with each other.

Regardless of your talk today, your marraige is at a crisis point. The experts say the thing about a crisis is that it cannot continue and must evolve into something else. That makes it an opportunity for growth and change, and even outcomes that were unfathomable before the crisis.

You will get through this. People can change and grow. And forgive. And start over. Do hold your ground that needing to feel like a valued partner, rather than an impediment, is essential. And healthy and sane.

I do hope your talking today goes well.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Thinking about you - good luck today - hope it is a positive turning point for you!!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I'm thinking about you and sending positive thoughts your way. Best of luck today. I hope all goes as you have hoped it would.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

It's amazing...we wouldn't recognize each other in the street but here are at least probably a dozen women across the country whose thoughts will be with you today, judith. I'm sending energies for strength and optimism.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I'm figuring that Judithn is enjoying a wonderful desert right now. I'm hoping at least! Just wanted to say I've been sending good thughts your way this morning. Wishing you the best!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I woke up thinking about you Judith. Wishing you the best.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith,
I am sending my positive thoughts. Whatever happens, we are here for you.
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

More positive thoughts from me too.
May


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I can't stand waiting....what happened Judith? ....what did DH say?
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith - just count me as one more person who has been thinking of you and hoping that things go well with your husband today.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Just checking in to see how everything went today. I keep hoping it was a pleasant surprise.....


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

...and one more who has been thinking about you today and hoping for the best.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

And yet another...

...wishing you the best.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

judith...

we're here, whatever it is...


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Jeez, Judith, are you OK?


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

It's been a strange day and though I have not nearly begun to digest what occurred with my husband, I felt it was important to write something to update you all. Many thanks for your kind thoughts and good wishes, I was psychically bolstered!

I think the purpose of our lunch was in his mind, to prove he actually could arrange something for the two of us. He also arranged an outing for our entire family this upcoming Sunday afternoon for a local cultural event. He did accept that he had messed up by not doing anything along these lines previously. His actual words were 'That was my mistake. I was stupid." It's not an actual apology, but it's progress, right? I'm holding the applause until I know it's a recurring performance or just a one time role.

I made it crystal clear that as far as I'm concerned, our marriage, in its current form, is over. I suggested he do some thinking and figure out what he wants in his life at this point, what he's willing to give to a relationship and a family, and what he's not willing to give. He said he would have to get back to me on that because he didn't know the answers. That's not so good, right?

At moments I was hopping mad and couldn't bear to look him in the eye. We have very different interpretations of certain events and I'm not sure either of us is at a point to really hear what the other is saying. Of course, understanding another person's point of view doesn't always guarantee agreement, does it. Still, it was quite civilized. One of the advantages of being in a fancy restaurant.

After lunch, I went to see the therapist. My take-home message was that we have a lot of work to do. I felt calmer after that, but when I got home my kids were back from school. My husband had taken the day off from work to be here and I thought he'd interact with the kids. Instead, he spent the entire time he was home (with one brief dinner break) in front of the computer, taking calls from the office.

I pointed out that a day off to spend time with his family did not mean isolating himself in front of the computer for the entire evening, he said he couldn't help it, that it wasn't his fault the computers at work malfunctioned when they did. No part of what I wanted to say in response to that was G-rated.

Mindstorm, Your post about work really got me thinking. I was feeling down about having to go back to my former career(s). I now realize I may be overlooking some of my resources, skills and opportunities. I don't know how to start reframing the situation yet, but I intend to think about it.

Thanks everyone again, keep sending that white light my way! I need it!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Good to hear that you are holding it together.
You have had a emotionally draining few days. Try and get some sleep and take care of yourself.

Claudia


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith ~ I agree about getting some rest ;o) It sounds like you've been through the proverbial wringer. I am astounded that he could even think he's making any sense when he's giving you very different messages. Talk about passive-aggressive bs.

"I think the purpose of our lunch was in his mind, to prove he actually could arrange something for the two of us. He also arranged an outing for our entire family this upcoming Sunday afternoon for a local cultural event."

And then this...

"I suggested he do some thinking and figure out what he wants in his life at this point, what he's willing to give to a relationship and a family, and what he's not willing to give. He said he would have to get back to me on that because he didn't know the answers."

What?? At this point my gloves would be off. You're a better woman than I, Gunga Din.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith,
Like I said before, I learned in my marriage that you can't try and change another person but you can change yourself. It's time for you to start being number one. I think you know that already. Instead of waiting for his reply about what kind of relationship he wants, you need to decide what you need and want from him and can he be that person. Start doing things for yourself. Go back to your writing. Get physically active.
I read a great book years ago called "Why Men Love B*tches" author, Sherry Argov. The title is very deceiving. It doesn't tell you to be a "b*tch" but how to hold your own in a relationship. It really is worth reading.
Judith, It's time for you to grow. Change is scary but also exhilerating!
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Men and women are wired so differently when it comes to emotions and expectations in a marriage.

DS and his new wife broke up after 2 years of marriage; she was trying to change him and had firm expectations of what roles he should have. She was constantly disappointed in him and that wore him down since he could never please her. They are rekindling now; my son hasn't changed but she has realized she can accept how he is now instead of fighting it all the time.
My son always met with disapproval from her , no matter how hard he tried;
that kills love .

My husband always placed his job first, unless there was illness or emergencies; it was unavoidable due to the demands of the career.

If you are boiling inside and resent him constantly, (which you imply) something definitely is amiss and you have to look inside you to figure out if you still have love for him so you can accept certain sides of him that you won't be able to change ever or if it's too unbearable overall, all hope is lost.

One thing I might suggest as a temporary solution, is to NOT deal with all this for a few weeks; let dust settle and examine yourself during that time.
I've taken breaks of this kind when I was at a standstill in my thinking and couldn't advance further; it's non productive as far as shelving the issue for a predetermined lenght of time, such as 7 days for example, but it was very productive as far as finding some kind of resolution within myself because I wasn't obsessing with my problem 24 hours a day.
I kept myself distracted with other activities I'd throw myself in, and would push away all negative thoughts, surprisingly good solutions would come to me when I least expected them.
After my "break" , I was better equipped to find resolution and make decisions, clarity comes when you give it some time.

I do wish you all the best in your situation.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I suggested he do some thinking and figure out what he wants in his life at this point, what he's willing to give to a relationship and a family, and what he's not willing to give. He said he would have to get back to me on that because he didn't know the answers. That's not so good, right?

Trying to stay objective and give him the benefit of the doubt, this might be interepreted in a somewhat positive way. It might just mean he hasn't given it much thought. He's been ok with the status quo (that seems to be obvious since it's all in his advantage) so on his end there was no need to think through what he expected or what you might be expecting from him (aside from the date planning aspect).

Now, I realize that in itself is not positive from your point of view, but it is positive in that he probably hasn't been in the frame of mind of ending things.

Especially after you made it crystal clear that as far as I'm concerned, our marriage, in its current form, is over it's probably a wise thing for him to at least think through his response rather than jump in -- especially if he wasn't expecting it.

IF he really wants to understand your point of view, IF he really wants to keep the marriage together, IF he is willing to change, it's still going to be a long slow process, things aren't going to change overnight. And remember that you'll both have to work hard to repair the damage and move forward.

I still stand by my advice that you both should see a marriage counselor. It shouldn't take more than maybe a half a dozen sessions at most to determine if both you and he really want the marriage to continue and are willing to work to fix things, or if it really is over and it's time to move on. And the foremost thing for the forseeable future is to make that determination and then go from there.

Please keep a positive outlook. No matter which way things go, your goal is to make yourself feel better and happier, and that WILL happen. It won't be easy either way but when you look back it will be worth it.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I agree with lowspark that his "I'll get back to you on that" response isn't necessarily all bad. A nodding "Of course that's what I want, I'll change, I'll plan dates, I promise I will" would've been the same old same old rote response and wouldn't indicate any desire to give some thought about the situation at all.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I had a friend in a very similar situation. I thought for sure they were going to get a divorce. The romance had been gone for so long from their marriage.
When I saw her several months later I asked her how it was going. She said that her husband had changed 100%. He was romantic and attentive. I asked, "how did you change him". She told me that she went to an attorney. She had been married 20yrs and the attorney told her that she was entitled to half of all their assets. She went home and showed her husband the paperwork. When he realised what he was losing both personally and financially he changed fast. Now they have a great relationship. She scared him silly.
I'm not suggesting you try this, but it worked for my friend.
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I am glad to hear that his intentions were to give you some of the things that you want, rather than to walk away. Good. I also think it's great that you have both started thinking about nuturing your marriage rather than taking it for granted. Having said that, I think he deserves some positive feed back for the steps he did take. He DID arrange a lunch date. During the date, instead of being fawned over for what a good job he did, you both "discussed" interpretations of past events in your marriage. Others may disagree, but some men are very stratight forward. If an action leads to a positive experience, they repeat the action. If it leads to a negative expereince, they will never go that road again. My point is that he did something nice for you, and he got NO positive feed back. If you want him to do this again and not associate your "dates" with "talks about our relationship", you really should let him know that you appreciate his gesture. That the gesture IS what you are looking for, although, at some point in the future you want to actually both ENJOY the dates. Relationship talks are just about the same as physical torture to many men.

Also, I think he does get points for TRYING to take the day off. It is not his fault that the computer crashed at work. That is his job, to take care of that. Again, he needs some positive feed back. Like, "I appreciate that you tried to take the day off. I understand that an emergency occured that you were required to handle. I look forward to another time soon when you will be able to take the day off and spend it with us. Your gensture, although not the implementation, is appreciated."

Again, he did try. I do understand your frustration. I'm also not trying to say that you shouldn't discuss all the things you really do need to discuss to get your marriage back to where you both want it to be. However, I do think if you don't at least acknowledge his attempts, you won't see them again. I, too, feel ridiculous when I jump up and down and squeel with delight like I would for a three year old, when my husband finally attends to whatever is broken in the house. "Oh THANK YOU, honey for fixing that broken pipe. I REALLY appreciate it." When, what I'm actually thinking is "Well, it only took you 3 months to finally get around to fixing this. And why am I the one that has to mention it to you. Why the heck aren't YOU noticing that the pipe is leaking and just take care of it for goodness sakes!" But, I have found more stuff gets done when I gush with enthusiasum. My husband is a good guy, really. Some things aren't as important to him as they are to me. And visa-versa.

I'm glad that you both have begun the journey to a better marriage. Good luck!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith - I REALLY encourage you both to see a good counsellor together. I'm feeling that where you and your husband are going right now is well beyond online advice and speculation. This could be the beginning of some new insights and honesty that you haven't shared for awhile (maybe ever?), but only the two of you will be able to discover those things.

I know a couple (grown children, late 50's) who like to say they've been married 5 times...to the same person. Meaning, of course, that different phases of life bring different dynamics of marriage as two people grow. I hope that this season - hard as it is - will open the door for a "new marriage" between the two of you.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I highly recommend a book called "Passionate Marriage" by Dr. David Schnarch. I am NOT a fan of most so-called self-help touchy-feely books, but this one is excellent.
Kristi.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

geogirl1
I have to respectfully disagree with your advice. I think you are asking Judith to do what most women have done for decades and that is making excuses for their man. Go back and re read Judiths original post. This behavior has been going on for a long time. Why does Judith have to think about how to not upset him? He needs to be the one to step up to the plate this time. I don't think Judith needs to put forth the effort, he does. She has catered to him for too long.
I think Judith should do things for herself that make her happy. She told him what she wants from the marriage and now it's up to him to provide it. Why are the women always the ones that are made to feel responsible for the relationship? He should be worried about Judith walking away and not the other way around. He needs to know that his marriage is in trouble and HE has to do something not Judith!
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Such good insights by all!! I too think it's positive that he said he had to think about it - that's good. There just seems to be a whole lot of buried baggage here and it sounds as if you two do not understand each others needs and wants very well. In my opinion the door has opened and you might now really dig into that. I do think it would be helpful to get some professional assistance with that as others have mentioned.

DH and I have gone through quite a few times like you describe where we are like two "ships passing in the night" as they say. Each too much living in our own little world way too oblivious to the other's feelings. Fortunately for us we are both able to recognize this and we're able to have heart to heart talks and truly listen to each other's views. That's not easy to do if you have built up hurt and resentment - it's too hard to be objective. That's where I think a professional can help.

The ideas mentioned above that DH's might respond favorably to positive feedback (doesn't everyone?) resonate with me - that's certainly what I see with mine. And I also recognized that I am way more free with my demands and complaints than I am with my appreciation and praise - and I've improved in that respect. However if you've been feeling hurt for a long time it's pretty hard to think positive.

I really think there is a lot of hope that you will work things out. I hope you can get him to go with you to see a counselor.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Organic Donna -

I think we have to agree to disagree (ugh, I really dislike that saying!) I never said that Judith needs to worry about upsetting him, or make excuses for his behavior. In fact, I said THEY need to work this out; both of them need to nurture the relationship. This means that she needs to acknowledge that he did what she asked. He did EXACTLY what she requested. She wanted a date. He gave her a date. A little late? Yes. Ok, she can acknowledge that too. Under no circumstances do I think Judith should back down from her needs. Under no circumstances should she request less of him. However, she needs to acknowledge his efforts to do what she asked. Positive reinforcement is a good thing. It validates her requests, and it validates his actions.

Under your plan, she has laid down the gauntlet and now she should stand there and wait for him to step up and dance. Life never works that way, nor should it. Working with him, is not the same thing as giving him all the power. Validating a positive action on his part does not weaken her position. They are two equals in this marriage.

I do agree with you that Judith needs to make herself happy. She needs to do whatever it is that meets her needs. She needs to do that for herself.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith, you have drawn a line in the sand, which is a good thing to do and it certainly got your husband's attention. A very good thing. And as other posters have already said, I hope you can see an established marital couselor with your husband. We on-line friends can't begin to guess at what your husband might be thinking or what his world view is, capacity for change, etc. Before I had my family, I was a counselor and I firmly believe that individual therapy in the face of marital issues must be augmented with couples counseling in order to come up with solutions that resolve problems rather than intensify them or serve the needs of one rather than both spouses. In fact, I would drop individual to do couples counseling if this was the only way to pay for marital counseling. This would be the change in the marriage that I would demand first: that together you both will work for improving the marriage by going to counseling weekly. You seem to be on the right path. Stay flexible and forgiving. I hope you and your husband can define your "new marriage" that affirms all of the good things that brought you two together. God love you.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Donna, I must respond to your post about your friend whose husband, when faced with potential personal and financial loss in the form of an asset and property division estimate, responded quickly, and 'changed fast'.

The man is not being 'romantic', he is shrewdly protecting his interests. He is minimizing his potential for loss. He is investing time and attention on his wife and the resulting payout will be that he gets to keep his assets, and I'm talking financial assets and not the priceless assets of a happy home, spouse and children.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

What a mind expanding discussion, you all make very good points. So many good points! It reinforces for me that women are wonderful and makes me wonder what the country would be like if it was run by Forum members. Seriously, there is so much of substance in all your postings that I know I have to print out this whole discussion and re-read (with a big neon highlighter!) this weekend to let things sink in.

Partly because of what's been said, I will seek someone to help us through this crisis. I will ask the therapist if she can recommend someone. My husband is fine with this. I knew there was a reason I picked the more expensive health insurance at enrollment time!

I am also resolving to follow your excellent example, mitchdesj. I am going to take a chill pill, let things settle, and see what happens in the next couple weeks. I need to pace myself, practice compassion for myself and my kids and my husband. Unfortunately, there's no pill for instant clarity. But, we've taken a while to get this way and it's going to take time to examine and understand how we've gotten into this mess.

And yes, I have to change. In an effort to be kind to myself, I went to the gym, something I usually don't make time for. Then I decided to do something about my hair. While getting stuff put on to make it shiny and fix the color, I ran into a friend having her hair done too. We had a nice conversation and made plans to go out one evening. Another thing I never do, go out socially with other women just because. Clearly I have let my family run my life! Maybe I won't need my husband so much if I have some fun. For a distraction, I do have those writing projects. Do you know I don't actually have a place in my house set up for my work? I've been thinking of doing something about that.

It's Thursday, so my husband does come home from his New York life tonight. He did e-mail with an answer about what his life's goals are, and family and marriage are at the top. He said too that he could see that being away from me and the kids was really kicking things out of balance. We're far from okay, but I do sense a willingness on his part to reassess things and make adjustments to his work life. I think counseling will really help us sort it through.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith:

About compassion, how interesting that you posted that comment. I was thinking on the way home from my high school pick up about starting a thread about compassion.... This is a quality that when practiced often becomes a virtue, that I too am sensing that I need to grow in. My mind is all too quick to make judgements, sometimes unkind, sometimes selfish or limiting to those around me. So I am thinking that I need to become more consistantly compassionate, especially those I live with. Compassion literally means "to suffer with" and I am so focused on myself that I easily dismiss those around me as I try to fulfill my own needs. I am struggling to strike the right balance between endless demands on my time and energy with the simple things I must do for myself (because no one else will!). Some days I don't even brush my teeth! Anyway, I don't want to hijack your thread, thanks for your post. Such a thought provoking discussion. And compassion, can one have too much of that?


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith,
We all keep talking about what we think you should do, it's nice to hear what's actually happening from you.
You sound like you are at a turning point in your marriage. I think it's wonderful that you went to the gym and the hair salon. You are doing things for yourself and that's great. I am so glad that you made plans with a friend to go to dinner. I think you will be much happier once you establish your own interests outside of your family. Your husband and children will learn to see you not just as a wife and mother but as a person too.
To the other posters,
I know sometimes we disagree about what Judith should be doing in her marriage. I just want you to know that I respect all of your opinions and know that it's never personal between any of us. If we agreed on everything then there wouldn't be much to discuss. That's what keeps this forum interesting.
Donna


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

"He did e-mail with an answer about what his life's goals are, and family and marriage are at the top. He said too that he could see that being away from me and the kids was really kicking things out of balance."

Now that's romantic.
Well, OK, perhaps romantic isn't the right word, but that's what you really needed to hear, and it's what he really needed to realize and admit.

When faced with a major "life re-engineering" project, my DH and I would always start from our "perfect world" scenarios and work back toward the possible. Acknowleging the importance of home and family is vital -- and with that in mind, I'm curious how he'd describe his "dream life" with home and family and exciting career in the proper balance. It would be something for him to think about, and something for you both to discuss when you're feeling serene and compassionate (not vulnerable or angry). (By the way, your version of your dream life gets equal weight in the discussion!)


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

YAY!! Judith - your last message sounds very encouraging - good for you!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

I just want to say I wish you both the very best. It sounds like you are on a good road to improve your marriage. You did some self pampering/hair, met with a friend, made plans! Good for you! Your DH did make the lunch date, took a long time but he did do it. He has done some soul searching and he emailed his top priorities, family/marriage. He is fine with both of you seeking help thru this crisis. Good for him. Again, I really do wish you the best.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

It's way cool that you are keeping us informed and are so candid, thanks for that judith. I'm glad things are moving for you in a positive direction.

I think this discussion has helped all of us evaluate and reflect on our relationships, we don't always take time to do it, in these busy times we all live in.
I enjoyed all the sharing above, a real learning experience.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Oh wow! Now that *does* sound like it was a good day! That's fantastic Judith. Now go forth and empower thyself!
But just one thing - if he is enjoying his job, I do hope you can work out a situation that will be mutually satisfying whereby he can *still* enjoy his job. Upon re-reading your other posts, I realized that your DH has a consultant's job or a consultant-like job. I'm so sorry, my dear, but work-fixation, being on-call and frequently being away *is* the life of a consultant. You still do NOT need to be running interference for him with his kids or stalled out/in a holding pattern until "the time is right" (euphemism for: I'll do it later which is a euphemism for: never). You've already articulated well that your personal development needs to factor in as well - obviously since your own personal goals are not being realized and that is making you chafe. But I do so hope you can manage something where he doesn't have to give up what he likes about his new job. Say, a question for you: Does his job lie in New York and does he only return to Boston for the family or does his job extend here too? If it is the former, would you consider moving to New York? It may be easier all told - for both of you. Your children are not so old that it would be difficult to move not to mention, there is something quite culturally and intellectually enriching and exciting to move to a different city, state, country ...

I also liked what geogirl wrote - not just in evaluation of your scenario, Judith, but it was eye-opening for me too. Perhaps it will seem less contentious if one realizes that it is not just good advice for a marriage, but good for any relationship at all. Work relationships, friendships, as well as marriage often respond similarly to the same actuation ... no surprise there since the same people are involved, only the pairings are different.

Matter of fact, geogirl's advice made a few things click for me regarding a great friendship I had once had that soured - and soured spectacularly and rapidly. Interestingly, there are shades of the same issues that Judith summarized about the path of her life with her husband that are common to me with this friend of mine. (Aside: this was a perfectly platonic friendship, no hanky-panky to cloud issues or muddy waters). We were probably both to blame that our friendship became quite cancerous (well, almost certainly, although I like to think that I was a really good friend to him and he - well, not so much) but the bottom line is that it was wrong for me to simply assume that because I'd tolerated my friend's moody, temperamental, cross-patch phase when he was going through a tough time, that at a much later point in time, when he was back on even-keel and when life-things became burdensome for me that it was alright for me not to bother to hold my own temper and irritability in check with him. And I can be quite temperamental and very quick to temper.

So it isn't exactly what geogirl was talking about but metaphorically and euphemistically - I did see a parallel and it was quite clarifying for me.

In the meanwhile, good for you, Judith. Good for you for taking some time for yourself. You need to put some vim and vigor back in your life! Glad you went to the gym. I'm heading out for a run myself. Say, I'm right in the Boston area myself. Maybe I'll be running past your place! :-)


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

"He did e-mail with an answer about what his life's goals are, and family and marriage are at the top. He said too that he could see that being away from me and the kids was really kicking things out of balance."

Thank goodness! I must admit at first I thought he was being a total cad, but that's just my cynical side surfacing. I am so glad to hear that he's seen the light. It sounds as if you are both willing to do whatever it takes to repair and rejuvenate your marriage. Kudos to your DH for admitting that he has contributed to the decline of your relationship, and for being willing to become an active participant, go for counseling, and become a better man, husband, and father. Good for both of you. I'm also glad to hear that you have taken time to focus on *you*, because you need to be happy with yourself before others can be happy with you. Your husband and children will benefit from it, and you will feel so much better about yourself, your marriage, and your family. What wonderful news!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith,
I was so glad to read your post. As I said, it's not going to be easy no matter what, but the fact that he placed family and marriage at the top of his priorities and that he is acknowledging that his job is affecting that is a huge first step on his part.

And you beginning to do things for yourself is also a huge first step. As women, we are (generally) lax about taking care of ourselves because we are so intent on taking care of our families. But to me it's like the airplane oxygen masks. We're instructed to put ours on first, THEN help children or others who need help. The message being: if you don't take care of yourself you'll not be able to take care of others.

Donna said Your husband and children will learn to see you not just as a wife and mother but as a person too.
That is so true. I actually have two different groups of women I get together with once a month each, in addition to the other things I do just for me. My son who was probably around 17 at the time once told me he thought I was one of the coolest moms because I had a life outside of my family & kids, and that so many other moms he'd met were totally about their kids and had nothing outside of that.

I wish you and your husband the best in working things out!


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Judith,

I ran across this post while searching for something else kitchen-related and just finished reading it in its entirety. You may have posted an update on this elsewhere since that time, but I just wanted to ask how you and your family have been doing lately?

It never ceases to amaze me how much caring and support others here have provided to various posters over the years I've been on these forums.


 o
RE: Are Men Naturally Unromantic?!

Hi jbrig - Judith recently posted on a different board. You may want to use the search engine using her name - just to let her know that you activated this thread. I hope she is doing great too!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Kitchens Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here