Monday, May 10, 2010

Best Friends Without Benefits

Posted by Anonymous.

In July, I will be married to my husband for ten years. My husband is a stay-at-home dad while I work full time as a teacher. I used to work 7 days a week because I would wait tables on the weekends as well. We have two children, a 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. The girl stays home with her dad all day.

We have a tiring life--doesn't everyone who has two little kids? Teaching takes a lot out of me. I love it, but it does drain me. My husband is dabbling in the movie making business (hopefully moving into that full force once Keira goes to school next year).

About a month ago, my husband told me that he felt like I had emotionally pulled away from him. He felt like I didn't try to connect with him anymore, and that I spent most of my time just trying to sleep. The fact that I would never initiate sex with him made him feel like I didn't want him. (In reality, I was just tired! The kids stayed up later than me most nights, so the sex we did have was at 3:00 in the morning when my husband would wake me up.) He said that he has been depressed, and that he was just realizing the extent of it. He felt like my caretaker rather than my husband.

Sounds like my husband has a case of the housewife blues. I get it. I didn't want to stay home with the kids full time. In a way, I think it would've been better if I would have--I would have gone to play dates and activities and LEFT THE HOUSE during the day. It seems like my husband has lost his sense of self.

Horrible. The next week, I quit my weekend job so that I wouldn't be so exhausted. I started trying to show him that I really do love him and that he is more than just a maid, nanny, and cook (terrible maid, by the way). I tried being more affectionate and emotionally available. (We've always talked all the time, so it wasn't that)

I think I missed my window, though. My husband has lost his attraction for me. He loves me. He is my best friend and I am his. He wants to cuddle and hold hands, but he doesn't feel the warm fuzzies or tingly feelings for me when he sees me. We took a long hard route in finding out this information. He didn't want to admit it to himself or me. It is a horrible feeling.

It feels better than what I had THOUGHT he felt. When he described it to me, I thought he didn't really like me or want to be around me. I thought he had completely fallen out of love with me. I thought he hated me, even though he told me that there was nothing about me that he didn't like. I thought we were through, even though I didn't really do anything bad--the feeling of rejection were mostly in his head. BUT, they were real FEELINGS, so he feels numb toward me.

How are we going to work through this? We are going to continue to be best friends. We can hold each other and cuddle. We won't be having sex, though. We haven't really been having much of that anyway, so in reality nothing much has changed. Is this forever? No way. We are going to do this until he either realizes that I am the hottest woman (for him) around or he realizes that I'm definitely not and we will drift apart. I'm fairly certain it'll be the first one. I'm fairly certain it'll be soon.

It is a weird arrangement, but it'll work. Here's the problem. How do I handle MY self-esteem? How do I handle that my husband has admitted that he thinks I am beautiful and a wonderful person, but he doesn't want to have sex with me? (He is kind of girly in his view of sex--there is no such thing as casual sex. He can't get turned on unless the FEELINGS are there.) How do I not act weird around him? How do I not focus on how the ACTUAL rejection is making me feel?

It is all a mind game. We were only doing it once every month or so anyway. Nothing has changed other than his recognizing his feelings and telling me what they are.

I kind of wonder if everyone goes through this--they don't have the warm fuzzies all the time. It is just really painful for me because my girly husband talks about his feelings and TELLS me about them!

I guess we will both be separately spending some time making ourselves physically feel better for awhile, and then (hopefully) sometime soon we can do it together.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

That would really hurt me too.

As a start, why not start becoming aware of the really negative and hurtful ways you view your husband. For example, in this post you criticize the way he says home, the way he keeps house and the way he view sex and feelings. I sense a lot of bad stuff on your end and I think your intimacy problem has to do with both of you. I certainly wouldn't want to have sex with someone I saw as lazy/girlie/whatever. And as a spouse I bet he feels your negative vibe and internalizes it regardless of what you voice out loud. I couldn't have sex with someone who secretly hated me or thought ill of me either.

Do my advice to get through it is to stop thinking of yourself and find a way to truly fall back in love with your husband. This is not about you being hot or not, this is about you thinking poorly of him. I bet if you can find a away to see him as the hero you need he'll become that hero for you.

Anonymous said...

I have a similar issue with my husband who is also a SAHD. I feel like he hates me. He said he doesn't but when we argue he has all this anger for me just under the surface. He says he feels like he let our family down. I really don't understand that. This was something we agreed to do when he got laid off. I would work full time and he would stay home for a few years. I don't feel let down. I told him that. The worst is that our sex life is officially gone. I have no idea what to do about the situation and it is just awful. Talking about it seems to make it worse. I have told him to go back to work if he is unhappy. We can make other arrangements for our daughter. He is not receptive to that. I feel pretty badly about the entire situation and have no idea how to make things better.

Anonymous said...

What has worked for me in the past: talk to him and decide together that you absolute will not have sex for x amount of time. Make sure you both understand: no sex. THEN, without telling him, try to get him to have sex with you. Wear sexy clothes. Be provocative. Give him THAT LOOK. THere's nothing like knowing you can't have it that makes you really, really want it. ;)

Anonymous said...

To me it sounds like his lack of desire for sex is definitely related to his being depressed. When he gets some effective treatment for the depression, the sex drive will likely return, if he does in fact love you like he claims he does.

Hope you find an answer...

Anonymous said...

Oh wow....I'm now wondering if this is something that just happenes. A natural progression of sorts for some marriages? Including mine.

I'm holding on for dear life and just hoping it's a phase.

Hang in there....you are not alone...because now I know I'm not either!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 5:26. The key here is the treatment of his depression and perhaps some couples counseling. With a counselor it might be possible for you to feel like you can also express the rejection you feel.

My husband deals with depression and really I know how he's doing by how much he wants to have sex. He needs that emotional connection too. He can't find the emotional connection when he's depressed, regardless if it is there or not.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that he may feel emasculated to some degree, with you as the breadwinner, and him as the main nurturer and you referring to him as your "girly husband" when he discusses his feelings, perhaps both of you have started to see him less manly? It does sound like you both love and respect one another but maybe you need to give him a chance to prove what a real man he can be. I may be projecting cause my husband and i have had some similar issues, but I followed some old fashioned advice and let my hubbie make some decisions that I normally would have made and it seemed to make a difference in his self confidence and no big difference in our lives. (Sounds dumb, but I let him choose what driving route to take when going somewhere, even it I think I know a better way, I just bite my tongue and figure that we will get there eventually.) I've found that when something doesn't isn't a big a deal to me, if I just tell him "I trust your judgement honey. You decide." it seems to help and he actually does know what he is doing most of the time. good luck.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that he may feel emasculated to some degree, with you as the breadwinner, and him as the main nurturer and you referring to him as your "girly husband" when he discusses his feelings, perhaps both of you have started to see him less manly? It does sound like you both love and respect one another but maybe you need to give him a chance to prove what a real man he can be. I may be projecting cause my husband and i have had some similar issues, but I followed some old fashioned advice and let my hubbie make some decisions that I normally would have made and it seemed to make a difference in his self confidence and no big difference in our lives. (Sounds dumb, but I let him choose what driving route to take when going somewhere, even if I think I know a better way, I just bite my tongue and figure that we will get there eventually.) I've found that when something isn't a big a deal to me, if I just tell him "I trust your judgement honey. You decide." it seems to help and he actually does know what he is doing most of the time. i know it sounds patronizing but honestly it benefits both of us to see that my husband is a smart man and that i dont actually have to micromanage every area of our lives. good luck.

Yvette said...

Maybe you need to try and spark some romance back into your marriage. If you are best friends, you have emotional intimacy. You're communicating and that's great. Why not try and get back some of the magic of your early dating days? Get a babysitter and go on a date... not with the idea of having sex, but just to try to reconnect. And then try to focus on one another. Really listen and support one another. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

** UPDATE from original author **

Wow. The first comment makes me wonder. I don't THINK that I think poorly of my husband. (besides maybe the housekeeping, but I'm not that great at housekeeping either) I THINK my descriptions were in order for the reader to understand how my husband thinks and feels. As far as the way he stays home: I think he would be less depressed if he got out of the house; As far as the way he views sex: that was just a description. I like that he views sex as more than just physical pleasure.
So, I wonder if I am just not aware of my negative feelings or if they just don't exist.

I wrote the original post about a month ago. We've had our ups and downs. I love my husband so much. It turns out that I can't be his friend without benefits. I need more of him.

We've talked. He feels like for so long he unconsciously put my needs and desires above his own (which led to him losing his identity) , and now he just needs to be able to recognize what makes him happy and put himself first. I never asked or expected him to put my desires above his own, and it was certainly never my desire for him to do so and lose himself.

Anonymous 10:47, my husband has said the same thing. He feels like he has let us down and himself down by "not being successful" at his movie or "just being my husband and a dad." But that IS what we agreed to. He has so many wonderful bonding moments/memories with our children that he wouldn't have if he wouldn't have stayed home. Our children and I am better for his staying home. He just personally feels like a failure because his job title is SAHD or my husband rather than Film Maker. But the thing is--he is just NOW really able to become a film maker because our youngest will be going to school.

We both think it all comes down to his low self-esteem. I'm just struggling with it not bringing down my self-esteem as well. Does anyone really have a healthy self-esteem anyway?

Things between my husband and I are better. Today at least. We've had sex quite a few times since my original post-all very wonderful, bonding moments. I spent a week doing everything in my power to WOO him. It was a fantastic week. But then I got selfish and had a pity party for myself, thinking that he doesn't love me.

The latest update is we stayed up all night-me talking about how insecure I feel about our relationship (being told that he doesn't think he is in love with me anymore seems to scream louder to me than his telling me that he really does love me) and him talking about how he loves me and just needs my patience and support.

Okay. I'll be patient and supportive. I know we'll get through this.

Mrs P said...

This month is my 10 year wedding anniversary, is this a phase every marriage goes through?

We have 2 children and we both work outside the home, but I feel the same disconnect that your husband describes. It's hard when you love someone but the "sparks" and "tingles" are gone. And I feel numb towards him and even sometimes our children too. I don't want to end the marriage, but I don't know how to get it back on track either.

It's hard for me to give you advice, because I seem to relate more to how your husband is feeling. So, if I were in your husband's shoes, here are some things that might work:

*If he has "lost himself" find a way for him to connect again. Give him the opportunity to do something he used to enjoy or has always wanted to do but hasn't done because he's been busy being a SAHD.

*Initiate intimacy. Not necessarily sex. Love notes left on the mirror about how you appreciate something he does on a regular basis and how much he means to you.

*Pick a few nights a week that you are willing to cook, or trade off another chore that he mostly does so that he doesn't feel like a maid as much.

I am so happy that as a couple you are willing to have these tough conversations and work through it as best you can instead of throwing in the towel and going your separate ways. That gives me HOPE.

Anonymous said...

*From original poster*
9:43 am: For weeks, I searched to find someone who felt the same way he did so I could understand him better!

I did leave love notes and do special things for him. He ended up telling me that they made him sad because didn't feel the same way toward me as he once did. He also said that he recognized my effort and appreciated it and just needed to learn how to get over the sadness.

I was very offended that my signs of affection made him sad. (Sometimes I wonder if he is too honest with me--he hurts my feelings) I asked him how I was supposed to act then. He told me to make sure my outward actions reflected my inward thoughts, no matter how they made him feel.

We're working on it. It's not easy. I've been sadder lately than I ever thought possible, but I do see a dim light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll be patient and he'll be patient. I think our open communication is the key.

Anonymous said...

Your husband needs a job! You would not have to work so hard if got off his butt and got to work.

Send the 4 yr old to pre school and get him to work.

He is probably having an affair that is why he is acting all weird.

sorry to say it but sometimes you hove to be objective.

Anonymous said...

Objective or wrong?
I don't want the 4 year old in preschool. I want her at home. He is an amazing father, and I don't want anyone else raising her. I don't work as hard anymore because I quit my weekend job, and there is absolutely no way that he is having an affair. He'd tell me.

Perfect Girl said...

I've been thinking about this post a lot. I hate depression.

School started up for me, again, (yay!) and I am off my husband's back. He has been working more, and he is off my back for my driving: when we are busy and involved in a real life with real interests and really interesting obligations, we come to life, rather than become focused on the Other in ways that are unreasonable.

It's wonderful that you folks have it worked out with the children in the way you both want it: a lot of people don't get the choice, at the same time, there are a lot of free classes or inexpensive ones, maybe, in your area, where your husband won't have to wait any longer to at least get started on something that 'speaks' to him.

I fall apart when I only have the house to tend and the dog: I come to life when I have a life.

I wish this didn't sound so advise-y, but the dog is needing my attention, so I had to write fast.

Thanks for the insightful post: and, I Never thought your husband must be having an affair. That was hilarious! So out of left field. It's when the spouse is Happier and More Alive that they are maybe having the affair.

Whatev. Take it easy.

Perfect Girl said...

Okay, the dog is fine: I wanted to say, too, that, as fulfilling as raising children is, the creative and thoughtful part of the parent's life needs fulfillment.

I've been wondering if your husband is unfulfilled in his Life, and misinterpreting it as unfulfilled with you?

I always catch myself putting it all on my husband, because 1.) It's fun to do, 2.) it gives me a breather, while I try to figure me out.

A couple years ago, I found that I needed to finish my degree, and I was actually Extremely happy with my husband.

Take care.

Miss Anarchy said...

I stumbled upon your blog from blogroll of another blog I follow. When I read this post, I couldn't believe it. My fiance and I are going through the same thing. We have lived together for 5 years. What your husband says sounds exactly what my fiance says.

We are trying to work through it too. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

My husband was signed off work due to ill health shortly after we had our first child, 2 years later he has now been paid off due to ill health. I had to find a new job which is going really well so basically I'm the bread winner! My husband does a fantastic job of caring for our son & looking after the home including having dinner ready every night! The problem now is he resents me because I still see my friends, his choice was to loose contact with all his friends, we have not had sex for a year & we sleep in seperate bedrooms! Now we are not even talking! I think he is depressed but every time I try to speak to him he blames everything on me & I cant seem to handle it at all! I suffered post natal depression & got help so things are fine there but I feel like I'm loosing an endless battle! Please help!

Customized labels said...

Maybe you need to try and spark some romance back into your marriage. If you are best friends, you have emotional intimacy. You're communicating and that's great. Why not try and get back some of the magic of your early dating days? Get a babysitter and go on a date... not with the idea of having sex, but just to try to reconnect. And then try to focus on one another. Really listen and support one another. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

my husband and I went through the same thing a few years ago, and everything is much better now.

I'll tell you what worked for us: after our daughter started kindergarten he took a long hard look at himself and reflected upon/decided what his dreams/goals were. This is not something that you can do for him, and you need to talk to him about this. This is something that he needs to do for himself. Let him know that you will support him to whatever degree that you are able (my husband decided he wanted to learn a trade, and I paid for his trade school).

My husband is now happy with himself. Once your husband is happy with himself, the rest will follow. The most important thing to remember is that only HE can decide what is important to him and what will make him happy. You can only help him to get there.

Anonymous said...

The best thing you have going is your communication...my husband told me he didn't love me anymore when our daughter was 2 and son was 6. I rationalized that sometimes he didn't LIKE me but I was sure he LOVED me. How wrong I was. For years I wallowed in the misery of a lonely marriage. And then the inevitable happened, he had an affair and I found out. We separated for a while but ended up back together. After almost 20 years I wonder why. My advice is to get yourself into counseling either with him or without him. You cannot do this without therapy, you will just flail around until it all collapses. And, not to scare you too much, I have a feeling that your husband may be "in the closet". Many men who want to be accepted and/or have a "normal" family will try to pass...until it becomes to much and they just quit trying. And then they blow your world apart.

Anonymous said...

Your husband needs to get off the gravy train and go to WORK. Dad needs to get his lazy ass out of the house and find himself a j-o-b. It doesn't need to be full time, but he needs to put on Big Boy Clothes and go to a place outside the home where he makes a paycheck and interacts with other adults, not sit at home with a four year old all day. Let me guess--is he on the COMPUTER a lot? I thoght so.

He can either go to work when you get home, or you can put little Petunia or whatever the four year old's name is in DAY CARE for a half day, and you can pick her up on YOUR way home. It'll be GOOD for the kid--she's not developing many social skills trapped in a house with a whiney househusband all day...

Dabbling in the movie making business? My ass. The guy is a loser and a moocher. He will get himself some "respect" when he gets out of the tee shirt and sweat pants and goes out and brings home some bacon. You should only work one job, not two, and HE SHOULD DO THE SAME. Then, you can share the housework, and maybe go out to eat on the weekend as a family.

Otherwise, tell him to get off his ass, get out ad move on--put the kid in daycare, and tell him to find a JOB and help with child support. Whiney little shit--he's had a decade-long free ride, time for him to grow up and rejoin the real world. Oh....and if he is "depressed" get his ass to the doc for some pills. I wouldn't want to sleep with a whiner like that either--bet he doesn't bathe, am I right?