Here’s a letter from Rebecca, who’s in an extreme situation we can all identify with – and even here, there’s a LOT of room to work with and see what happens:
“Rori, I have been in a relationship for a year and a half…married to him for just over a year. Before we married he treated me great and bent over backwards to do things for me.
He always spoke politely to me and with an overall sense of respect. In the last 6 months he has started to be very short with me. For example I asked him the reason he doesn’t like cherries today and he answered very curtly saying; “just because I don’t.”
I merely wanted to learn something new about him but I was left feeling like it was a chore for him to talk to me. He also huff’s and puffs when I ask him to do something for me…like I am inconveniencing him or something. One other thing that bothers me is that he finds negative things about my mom to comment about.
She helps around the house because I am disabled and he never speaks to her. He stays in our bedroom while she is here and doesn’t come out until after she leaves. Not sure what to make of that.
He doesn’t have a job and he hasn’t had one for the past year and a half except for a few weeks working a temp job. He’s going to school online and gets $300 a month for housing allowance and he makes $100 a month from national guard service for 1 weekend a month. We are financially strapped and I find I am the one supporting us…which is very stressful.
Should I expect more from him? Sometimes I wonder if he is using me just for financial support. How can I know for sure. I stay because I love him and because of my disability I fear being alone and living alone. I hope you can offer some insight.
Rebecca – Everything in life is a tradeoff.
If you want total freedom, you trade-off total security.
We’re all looking to find some balance between all the values and needs in our lives and hearts, and to follow our dreams and expand our comfort zones without scaring ourselves into panic.
Your husband has limited abilities in both taking care of himself and communicating, and this does not mean all is lost. You also have some difficulties in communicating…and everything you read here, and any help this great community gives you will be extremely helpful for you.
Of course you need to get clarity on whether to stay with him or ask him to leave, whether you want to continue to support the two of you, or if he’s a burden you want to cut loose.
Whether you really love him, or just don’t want to be alone.
**My immediate tip for you is to see what can happen if you change everything – the way you’re acting, looking, speaking…the whole “vibe” you’re putting out.
Sometimes, just shifting the dynamic of your own energy changes the dynamic of the whole relationship.
One little movement of the tugboat shifts the whole ocean liner. One wave in the ocean rocks the boat…
And when that happens, often a man suddenly feels safe enough and curious enough to step out of himself and the pit he’s in to begin to engage with you more.
And then you get to see and feel and experience enough to help you get some clarity about what you really want to do here.
Try this first: STOP asking him questions.
Stop asking him for ANYTHING!!!!
He is retreating more and more (and my guess is your mother’s energy and way of being and speaking makes him retreat even more – not because you or your mother are doing anything wrong, but because of how his emotions and psychology and background are and what triggers HIM).
Most men would leave the house, or go into their “man cave” with the TV, or hang out with their friends when a woman’s mother is in the house.
Yours retreats to the bedroom and locks himself away.
This says more about his coping skills and limited options as a man than it does about anything else. He may be clinically depressed, and your asking him anything or for anything will just make him retreat more.
Often, this kind of withdrawal has to do with anger, and many, many men simply cannot deal with – or even get in touch with – their anger; and so it backfires on them into depression and withdrawal.
You cannot draw him out by trying to draw him out – he’ll dig in further, just like a snail.
Your job (for now, while you’re getting clarity and experimenting) is to LET him lock himself away.
Not only to let him do whatever he does – but to honor him and love him FOR who he is, even for all his coping skills, no matter how much you don’t LIKE them.
“Like” has nothing to do with accepting and loving.
Love and acceptance are unconditional – what our minds tell us, what we prefer are all conditional and only useful as information and data to you right now.
You need to simply smile more and appreciate him more verbally, and acknowledge him, and try to have as much fun in your life as possible, and STOP trying to get anything “out of him.”
After a while, you might see a change – and if not, if you’re getting as much help as you can afford from me and everything you can read online, and yet your needs are still not getting met (and it would be great for you to do some work around what your needs actually ARE, and how you prioritize them…), if the best he can do is what he’s doing , and it’s not working for you – then you have to decide what your options are and which road you need to head toward.