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Is This Anger?

by Phil
(Geneva, Ohio)

My wife is nearly always upset with me. I often do not know why. She will get upset when I speak to her and not say anything to me for a week or more. She seems to need to have a wrong against her.

Our sex life is almost nonexistent. She will behave much more normal if we travel away from home to a bed and breakfast for a romantic getaway, but as soon as we get home she becomes cold and distant again. She has always had a weight problem. That does not bother me, but it seems to bother her a lot.

In all other ways she is a good mother, of high moral standards, good worker, etc. She has always had trouble showing or expressing affection. We have been married for 24 years, and this behavior is stressing our marriage to the breaking point.

I suggested she get psychological counseling, but this only made things worse. She is unwilling to even explore the possibility of there being a problem with her. What drives this type of behavior and is there any hope of things getting better?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Phil. Thanks for asking your question on this site, so that others may benefit. Many couples face the kind of challenges that you and your wife are facing. I cannot make any kind of assessment or diagnosis of your wife in the context of this forum, as it would be unprofessional. So, my comments will be for you, suggesting ways in which you might improve your part of the situation. While I don't have any miracle cures or quick fixes for you, I will suggest some things that will very likely help:

1) Consider that your wife has very good reasons for everything she is feeling and doing. Try to assume only the best of her, particularly in those areas where you really don't understand. This will help you stay out of the trap of thinking the worst of her and her intentions.

2) Every time you think of her and your marriage, focus on the loving, affectionate, intimate relationship you want. Keep your focus on what you want, and do not allow your thoughts to go to the frustration of not having it yet. Like the mountain climber headed for the peak, rest assured in your heart and mind that you will get there--to the kind of close loving relationship you want. Believe in yourself, your wife, and
your marriage.

3) She will only change if she decides to. No one can change another person, which you probably already know. People are most likely to improve their attitude and behavior in an atmosphere of love and acceptance, which you can provide. You are already doing a great job, in your accepting attitude towards her weight issues. That is excellent.

4) Look for, focus on pay attention to her positive aspects. This will feel good to you and to her, and it will foster an atmosphere of comfort which facilitates growth and improvement.

5) Offer her nonsexual massage, as a gesture of love and affection. Do this without an agenda, only for the purpose of showing her your love.

6) Take really good care of yourself, so that you are bringing her a healthy, happy husband who loves and appreciates her as she is. You both win in this action!

These are just a few suggestions, but if you follow them you might be surprised at how much they help.

There is a lot of good information out there about how to improve your marriage. If you're interested, you might check out these CD programs (maybe your wife would like to listen to them with you):

Expectations In Marriage
Sacred Roles In Marriage

I wish you all the best in your journey to the kind of marriage you choose.

Dr. DeFoore

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May 06, 2009
From Dr. DeFoore
by: Anonymous

Hi Phil

The only and best thing you can do at this point is focus on yourself, and your realm of freedom and responsibility. Do everything in your power to be a happy, balanced person. Appreciate all of your wife's good qualities, and keep your focus there. She is not responsible for your happiness, you are.

Also, counseling--if it's good--will help her to take responsibility. If it increases your burden, you can just stop going--and look for a better counselor.

By the way, I offer telephone counseling for couples, and with Skype, the long distance service is free. Let me know if you want more information. Contact me with the "Contact Us" button on the left of this page.

My best to you, Phil.

Dr. DeFoore

May 06, 2009
by: Phil

I have tried to do nice things for my wife. I used to give her pedicures. She enjoyed those for quite a while, but now gets it done professionally. I find it hard to pay much attention to her at all. I am just so totally frustrated at failing to please her for so long. I have become too apathetic. She wants us to go to counseling, but if she remains unwilling to admit any wrongs on her part or to change any of her behaviors I feel it will only place more burdens on me with no rewards. In other words a dead end. I can't change my wife, she is unwilling to change, my prayers have been unanswered. Is there something I have overlooked?

May 05, 2009
by: Anonymous

Yes, it's great that you are accepting of your wife's weight issues. Your wife sounds like she's burdoned and angry by her responsibilities at home. Just guessing of course. If she is different when you go away and she feels like she is on a little holiday/has escaped/can rest or something, that has to be a big clue.

Having a weight issue is depressing and if there is no other outlet, you eat more because you're depressed. However I've also seen people, older people, do remarkable things with weight loss/self esteem and so on when they receive the right support. It's always seems to be outside support but then the opportunity has to arise for her to decide to take it as well and that's up to her.

Like most women I suppose she just sees sex as another duty, if it isn't accompanied by lots of love and attention at other times.

Also she probably knows she needs help but in suggesting she seek psychological help she would have felt as if you now think she's lacking. You sound like a pretty loving person and men often get left alone without any help at all - just working out their problems on their own. I really hope your love and support is returned soon.

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