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Marriage issues

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  • Marriage issues

    Hi there, I'm looking for some thoughts and advice on my recent marriage. Oh boy, where to start?

    We got engaged after 3 months of dating (we knew each other for years before that). The dating stage was really fun, stress-free and drama-free. We have a lot in common, and thought that we could see a bright future ahead. Planned a wedding, and have been married for just over 5 months now. Here are our issues:

    Sex. While dating, we were very active in this regard, and both of us enjoyed it very much. Then the engagement happened, and we were thrown into a stressful situation. Our sex life dwindled as a result. I thought it would pick up once we were living together, but it didn't. I'm not overly attracted to him, physically. He's an alright-looking guy who takes care of himself well, but I just don't find him attractive. I'm one of those people who doesn't judge books by their cover, and I can look past appearance to get to know a person. These days, we do it once a week, if that. Sometimes it's once every 2 or 3 weeks. My drive is super-high, just not with him anymore. Before me, he only had sex once (he was 43 when we started dating). For some reason, I thought that I could teach him a few things about what I like, but those things never seem to stick; he doesn't remember. So, I've gotten my nipples pinched or bitten many times, and now make sure they're covered up. He doesn't like to try anything new in bed either, and it just ends up being the same old thing. Combine that with epic amounts of stress, and no attraction, and I have no interest at all.

    Children. On date #1, I made it very clear to him that I wasn't interested at all in giving birth, but would be OK with adopting a child or 2 down the road. He said that was fine, and he would be OK with that. Now, he wants to try have one of our own. (I should say here that I'm 35; he's 44). With all of his issues, and the mental health issues that seem to run in his family, I'm scared to make a baby that might not have the best running chance in this world. Not to mention, I'm scared out of my wits to actually give birth.

    Work. We both work full time. I hate my job; he's very passionate about his. I've been in my career for 16 years; this is his 5th year teaching as a uni prof. In November, we got up one leisurely Sunday morning, and he freaked out, saying that he didn't know if he could continue teaching because between teaching, marking, prepping, and home life, he was super-stressed. He said that he was going to ask for a leave the next day (unpaid because he isn't a full-time prof), and that he would just take on a menial job somewhere. This threw me for a loop, as prior to this, we had been doing really well getting used to living with one another. It also threw our lives and finances into a tailspin, as while I have a decent career, and can support myself and the 2 dogs I had long before hubs came into my life. Bills have skyrocketed, I have a mortgage (built a small home in 2010), and he has a new car with payments. I can support him emotionally, and encourage him to a point, but I cannot support him financially. The reason for his freakout: he was scared of losing me.

    Loss. When he was a pre-teen, his Dad left with another woman. Two years later, he came back asking to be part of the family again, and then took his own life. About 10 years after that, hubs fell in love with the girl his best friend was dating. They had a threesome for awhile, but she ended up choosing his best friend in the end. I just found out that hubs had hoped for an equal, polygamist-style relationship with the 2 of them. This disturbed me a little bit, not that I'm closed-minded, but I guess I just couldn't put myself into that situation to picture it clearly. Between both situations though, he's scared of now losing me, which adds to stress levels.

    Career change for me. Prior to dating him, I had been making plans to go back to school and start a home-based business. I had looked into everything, and had even obtained my major home-based business license. All that was left was registering for school and developing the basement into a dog grooming studio. When we got engaged, I made the conscious decision to put the wedding first, buying a house together was second, and my career change was third. I regret this decision, as I wanted to do that career change more than anything! And now, I'm biding my time.

    Things seemed to get worked out, and were going really well for us all throughout Christmas, then last weekend, this all came up again. He is still very stressed. More things that came up that are adding to it: his longer commute, the fact that when he was living with his Mom, everything was done for him (all meals were made for him), and he didn't have to help with housework/yardwork, etc. All told, I just don't know what to do. Had I known that marriage was going to be this hard, I'd have never walked down that aisle. I care about him a great deal, and do love him, although I don't feel the love that I felt while dating. Now, it's more of a good friend love. I have a lot of regrets, and am exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally. I have a sleep tracker, and it shows that on average, I get about 3.5 hours of sleep a night. Another thing: I haven't changed my surname everywhere, and am now thinking twice about doing this at all. I would kind of just like to keep my maiden name.

    Any thoughts/advice? I'm really sorry that this is so long; I wanted to make sure I covered everything.

  • On the sex question, I understand that our drives can be affected by stress and other stuff, but did you find him hotter before you were married? I guess I'm a little puzzled on how it was so good in the early days without you having a strong attraction to him.

    On the loss thing, I guess I don't like the sound of you basing your marriage at least in part on the fact that he needs you and is scared of losing you. I think you have to want to be with someone, first and foremost.
    [FONT=Trebuchet MS][COLOR="#800080"][B][SIZE=4]Woman trapped inside a woman's body![/SIZE][/COLOR][/B][/FONT]


    • Hey Jen1447, thanks for the reply. Yes, drives can definitely be affected by stress. That's the thing—I can go home and use the vibrator every second day; I just have no interest in sex with my partner. As for sex being so good in the beginning, I'm not sure. I was never truly physically attracted to him, but was attracted to things like: how he treated me and my dogs, we shared a lot of the same life passions/goals, he has a great job. Those are the things that tend to attract me.

      As for the loss thing, it actually freaks me out that he's so scared of losing me. I'm sorry, I didn't realize that it sounded like I was basing our marriage on this; that wasn't intended. I've always been a big believer in being able to support oneself and love oneself and one's life, and if you find a great relationship, that should only enhance life, not be the person's entire life.

      As for wanting to be with him—a part of me does, a part of me doesn't, a part of me is so stressed and tired that I can't see through the cloud to think clearly.


      • Lots of things here, I only have time to comment on one or two now - having children: You discussed it and agreed. No one should EVER feel pressured to have children in that situation. He is free to change his mind, but he has to understand that you have a right to keep the decision you made when you got married. This is REALLY important - while children can be wonderful, they can be a completely disaster if one person doesn't want them.

        Would you be sexually attracted to him if he did things you liked in bed? Do you think he really doesn't remember and / or get caught up in the act, or do you think he doesn't care. The first is probably fixable, the second is a much bigger problem. Does he enjoy sex with you?


        • Sorry Cheeky I wasn't clear - I meant that I didn't like the sound of staying with him so as not to disappoint him and make his fear a reality, basically.

          I know this is premature but so far I don't see anything in what you've written to suggest that this is something to stay with, honestly. (Part of you doesn't want to be with him, little sexual attraction, his clingyness freaks you out, etc.) Do you think you maybe already know the answer? Before you take that too seriously tho, bear in mind that there are a lot of people here who are married and have experience with marriage who will likely weigh in with better info. I suspect they'll say stuff like it's a long hard job and there are no instant happy marriages. It's just those warning signs sound a little scary to me. (You're not just saying it ****es you off when he leaves the seat up after all. )
          [FONT=Trebuchet MS][COLOR="#800080"][B][SIZE=4]Woman trapped inside a woman's body![/SIZE][/COLOR][/B][/FONT]


          • I have some original advice: it's a long hard job and there are no instant happy marriages.

            No, seriously, I imagine that there are marriages that fare better early. I've just noticed that with a lot of the people I've spoken to that are in longer successful marriages, we seem to agree that the first year is the hardest, if not one of the hardest. I think it was for us. We've been married 13 years, were together for years before, and i've had other long term relationships. The only single argument I've ever had with a women was with my wife in our first year. Our expectations of what marriage to each other would be was so different than the reality.

            There's just so much adjusting needed. You simply do not know what you're getting into. My experience is that if you know in advance of any worthwhile endeavor what you'll have to do you might not do it - marriage, kids, starting a business. That doesn't mean that you can't grow into those things and have them enrich your life.

            We agreed on no children too. Like with you all, it's mostly my wife's wish because she's afraid of childbirth and raising a bad seed. It does afford us a lot of freedom that I enjoy a great deal. We travel all over and are really active with our congregation in ways we could not be otherwise. We have a good life.

            I don't know if I have much in the way of advice besides telling you that a lot of what you're experiencing is what every married couple experiences to some extent. The difference in those who succeed and those that don't has to do with the value of marriage and how much you're willing to mature and adjust. If two people are willing to work together you can keep the honeymoon going. It sounds like your man loves you and is attached to you. That's cool. That's a great start.
            "Those sowing seed with tears
            Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126


            • A few other thoughts: (I've been married >25 years)
              Marriage isn't extra work - in fact having 2 people makes things easier. Cooking, cleaning, other chores are shared. In that sense its less work than living by yourself. If as you suggest though, someone (his mom) was doing all this for him, then of course its more work now, he no longer has slave-labor.

              Jobs - you need to be careful about priorities (I work a high stress job with unpredictable time demands). Neither work or home is "more important", but they have different demands. In academia he will often have to work long hours, and sometimes that will take priority over his time with you ****AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME****. That doesn't mean that the job is more important than you. When the job doesn't have high time demands he should have time with you. The same is true for your job and him. There may be stretches of time when you don't get a lot of time together - just enjoy what time you do get. (I have periods of 80 hour weeks, or long distance travel - but when I still spend a lot of time with my wife).

              Did he quite his job, or just talk about it? (it wasn't clear from the email)? It also wasn't clear to me why he wanted to quit his job.

              Why did bills skyrocket? You are both mature adults, weren't you each supporting yourselves? Getting married, sharing a place should have reduced the bills (unless he quite his job of course...)

              My wife never changed her last name - no reason to.

              My next comment will get a number of objections but: You don't need to stay married. If things really are not working out the way you wanted, you can end it. No blame, or recriminations, just this isn't the life you want. You are not doing EITHER of you a favor by staying together if you aren't happy.

              His history seems strange: 43, living with his mom, only had sex once, part-time university prof. I know nothing about him or his life, but these together (maybe completely incorrectly) paint a somewhat worrisome picture. What about him made you love him and want to spend your life with him?

              Finally - you should not stay in a situation where you are unhappy. Change it, leave it, but don't just decide to let things go.


              • rcoreyus, was your first year a difficult one, with getting adjusted to marriage? I'm curious.

                I love what you bring up about two people sharing responsibilities making life easier. It's very true. In general, I feel like two is better than one. It's not just big things like living expense. It's little things like my wife being stuck in the snow the other day. Yeah she could try to find a neighbor at 7:00 in the morning or call AAA, but I'm the one person in the world that benefits from her succeeding. So it's not just no problem for me to help her get going, but it's in my interest. That stuff is why married people are wealthier.

                That's why, as much as I agree with that comment, I disagree with you saying to leave when the going gets tough. I understand if someone is violating the marriage or beating the mess out of you. But just 5 months in having some difficulties? No offense, but if you can't hack that then you aren't suitable for marriage, in my opinion. And I'm not minimizing anyone's difficulties. I know first hand how frustrating it can be. But every single marriage in history has been problematic at some point. That's why the classic vows include "for worse." If you can stick through in the bad times then you need to stay single, because handing challenges together is exactly what marriage is for.
                "Those sowing seed with tears
                Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126


                • No, our first year of marriage was great. Then there was a slow decline over many years as our sex life vanished - now recovered. Very happy now.

                  I think all couples have some issues at some time - but usually those develop later mostly as people change as they age. Early in a marriage things should be very good. There may be some adjustments to life, but the good things should completely overwhelm the bad. Early in a marriage the huge advantages of having two people should make everything easier. Chores and work are divided. There is the invaluable feeling that someone has you back if things go badly.

                  I know all marriages are not like that - but I think the ones that are, are the only ones worth keeping.

                  Example: Imagine that while driving home from work you get distracted, run a red light and hit another car, trashing your car. You call your spouse:
                  Bad marriage: "you idiot, what were you thinking, how are we ever going to pay to fix the car".
                  Good marriage: "I'm glad you're OK, I'll be by in a few minutes to pick you up. Do you think the car is salvageable?"

                  In my world view though, marriage itself isn't very important - it is a public declaration of a long term commitment, but is not itself a thing of value.


                  • I have a lot to say, but I don't want to derail. Maybe I'll make a new thread in the next few days...
                    "Those sowing seed with tears
                    Will reap with a joyful shout." - Psalm 126


                    • Hey Rcoreyus,

                      Thanks for the reply. Now, let me answer your queries and reply to comment...

                      I agree with you in that having 2 people makes things easier, or at least, it should make things easier. However, I'm finding that while he does make meals once in awhile, I'm the one doing 95% of the cooking, and the cleanup as well, much of the time. He knew before marrying me, that I'm a clean, tidy person. I like things organized and uncluttered, and he had said the same thing prior to marriage, but now wants things to be messier. He said that he can't be himself in such a clean house. Do I lower my standards? We had gotten on a Sunday cleaning schedule, where we would divide up and conquer the chores, which worked great because instead of me spending the afternoon doing all the chores, we'd be done in 2 hours! He hasn't helped with this though in a few weeks, even during his 3- week Christmas break.

                      As for work, honestly, I love time spent alone, and don't get nearly enough of it these days. So, in no way do I expect him to rush through his class preparations to spend time with me. Unfortunately, as a prof, his day isn't done when he leaves the classroom, whereas mine is done at 5pm. I don't have to take the work home with me, which is pretty lucky. This is part of his stress: when he spends so much time prepping and marking only to find that (some) students don't do well, and he feels that he's failed as a teacher. I've told him that he's a great teacher, but that he can only teach to the best of his abilities; it's up to the students to take the materials home and study them further. Some students are there only to fill a void in their schedules (option classes), and while he gets that, he doesn't truly understand that, and takes it personally when they do poorly.

                      He has not quit his job, and apparently, has decided not to do that anymore. His recent epiphany is that he knows he's a great teacher, and is above average (his words; not mine), and that he will be sticking to the teaching. Initially, he wanted to quit his job for a few reasons: the catalyst was that he was afraid of losing me. But also: the stress of home life versus stress of teaching, the longer commute, his routine was completely different.

                      As for bills, they skyrocketed because there are now 2 people using power, water, etc. (groceries included), instead of just 1. My grocery bill while living alone was about $250, tops, per month. Now, it's closer to $600 because we're buying a lot more of everything, meat included, which isn't cheap. When I lived alone, my meat of choice was fish or shrimp (he's allergic to both), and I ate A LOT of veggies/fruits. There are 2 people showering, the dishwasher gets run 2x a week instead of once, and laundry, oh boy! When I lived alone, there would be 2 loads per week, sometimes 3, if I did bedding. He likes the bedding done every week, and now there are my 2 loads, plus his 3, plus bedding, every week = 6 loads. So yeah, bills have increased a lot.

                      Yes, his history is different, as not many 40-somethings still live with their parents. As for sex on his part, during his 15-year post secondary stint, he concentrated on schooling instead of dating. When he did get into a relationship, it was with a gal with whom sex was painful, so that happened only once with them. I don't think actual intercourse happened during the threesome; it was more touching, oral sex from my understanding. And, in case you're wondering, his best friend from that is still his best friend, and was best man at our wedding. Part-time prof... someone will have to retire for him to get tenure, as the university can't take on another full-time prof in his department.

                      As for what caused me to fall for the guy in the first place: Prior to him, I had dated a string of guys who really weren't very nice or good for me. He treated me well, he treated my dogs well, and the male dog was smitten with him almost immediately. He (the dog) is really tough to win over! We both had much in common (hiking, travelling, photography, being outdoors, didn't want children, loved dogs, common values/life goals). And, I was also attracted to the fact that he has a really great job. My parents really liked him, which is also a hard-sell.


                      • I have to agree, money savings by living together often doesn't work out. It works out if before there was a lot of eating at restaurants and now eating at home with the same quality of food is taking place and also,there is compatibility of palates. It works out if both were living on their own in a place that a couple could live and now one of the rents is no longer being paid.

                        It looks like a lot of your complaints are about things he doesn't do, the things his mother did for him while he lived at home. It seems like she has been the big winner in your marriage.
                        I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
                        Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

                        From a speech by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 at St. John's Church, Richmond, Virginia


                        • Marriage isn't easy. It's about compromise. It must be difficult for you this early on in your marriage, You are over all the excitement and stress of the actual wedding so it's down to the humdrum. I don't think you should settle for this if you aren't happy. What would make you, just you, not hubs, happy? Think about that and see what your answer is! No one can make the decision for you, only offer advice. Have you spoken to him about it?


                          • I think a big part of the problem is that it sounds like (maybe I'm wrong) he was living at home and someone else was doing a lot of the work, and paying a lot of the bills (even if he contributed), so he has an unrealistic idea of the work and financial issues of life. Has he lived by himself for any extended period of time?

                            There are a lot of chores in life, and having someone to share the with is great -but someone who has never had to do them may not realize how much work they are. I think its vital in a marriage to share chores - its OK if they are different chores: My wife cooks, I clean. I do the bills, she does the taxes every year. We do our own laundry, I make the beds, clean the cat room, maintain the computers. On trips, I drive, she navigates. It all seems to work out reasonably well.

                            Not all couples manage this. We know a married couple where over time she has wound up doing almost all the chores. At first he was working long hours, but eventually he had enough money to retire - and now does very little to help around the house. She resents it, but its become such a pattern that she feels there is nothing she can do about it now. Don't let this happen to you.

                            Money is an issue for everyone. It sounds like you are living above your collective means, so you need to cut back. Maybe less meat? Spicy Asian stir-fry can be really good and a little bit of meat with a lot of veggies and rice is good and also pretty healthy. Probably there are other places you can cut back as well - try to do it before money problems become a crisis. Is his income similar to yours?

                            Having a lot of things you like doing together is a huge help.

                            Overall what I think I'm seeing (and I may be WAY off base) is that he is someone who hasn't had to spend much time living like an adult, he has always had family to help out. He needs to recognize just how difficult, annoying, time consuming and expensive the real world can be - and then appreciate how much of a help it is to share that work with you.

                            Its never a good idea to stay with someone because other people you dated were not good to you. This guy being nice to you is certainly necessary, but by itself it isn't enough. You need someone who is nice to you AND who can hold up their end of all the work that living entails.


                            • Now the other topic - Sex.
                              Sex needs to be good in a marriage or things simply won't work - you will end up missing good sex and either feeling resentful for what you can't have, or cheating. I may have lost track in the discussion - is he trying to do what you want in bed, but just isn't very good at it yet, or does he not care? I think this is a very important question. I'm also a bit concerned his last girlfriend found sex "painful" - was it her, or is he just clumsy, or rough - this sounds too much like what you are describing? Couldn't they have found other intimate things to do?

                              I expect that he will seem sexier if he starts to take more of the load at home. I'm not one of those people that men are sexy when they do the laundry, but I do believe that in order to be sexy ,men need to well, act like men - they need to be responsible for taking care of themselves and other people.



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