Greetings Dr. Buckingham,
I just read a post of yours and had to send you an email about my concerns. I am a married late 30 year old with two kids by my wife and have an older son from a previous relationship. My concern is similar to the post “my-ex does not know we are married“.
I want to thank you for sharing advice to our community. My concern is that–in my opinion- my wife is very insecure because of my outgoing personality and her weight. As a result we do not have sex on a regular basis. I feel she is jealous of me and my first child’s mother.
I do not know how to deal with her because she does not communicate and internalizes all of her feelings and emotions. I feel that I am only staying in this relationship because of our kids and she knows it.
I am not perfect and I know she has issues with me that I need to work on myself. Our problem is I own my issues and she does not. I have tried upgrading her to hip new things and fashions and she rejects them. She always says that I am looking at other women and I do in her presence.
I know that is wrong and I not making excuses, but I am not pleased with her personal hygiene and housekeeping at all. She knows it because I complain all the time about it. How can I make this situation better or what can I do to make her see and understand my concerns to make our marriage work?
Help me and Kind regards, Not Pleased
Dear Not Pleased,
I believe that you are on the right path in regards to owning up to your character flaws. Self-awareness and self-accountability are important steps toward resolving marital challenges. However, verbally acknowledging your wrong-doing does not make it right. If you want to truly make a difference in your marriage you should make sure that your actions speak louder than your words. Bottom line: Stop looking at other women. If your wife is not pleasing to your eyes, maybe you need to pay more attention to her heart. Physical intimacy is important, but marriage is about being connected emotionally and spiritually.
In regards to your wife’s insecurity, you cannot make her understand your concerns. However, you can strive to love her unconditionally. If she is not sure of herself or confident, I recommend that you try practicing positive regard. Positive regard is the ability to love and treat someone in a nonjudgmental manner with the hope that they will change internally, not because of you. Complaining and telling someone what you want is not the same as loving them as is and showing them what you want. You mentioned that you tried upgrading her to hip new things and fashions and she rejects them. Have you tried asking her what makes her happy and comfortable?
You can make your situation better and your marriage work by seeking counseling. Poor communication is not something that you can ignore and expect things to change or improve. Your wife’s inability or difficulty with expressing her emotions will continue to cause problems. Also, your frustration and disappointment in your wife will continue to cause problems because your behavior will not improve until you improve your thinking. Learning how to communicate and cope more effectively is the key to sustaining a healthy relationship.
You cannot open someone’s eyes if they are ok with having them closed. Change is a personal phenomenon. Each individual has to be willing to sacrifice and compromise in order to make the marriage work.
Love for your children is not a good reason to stay in an unhealthy relationship. Remaining married because of guilt or fear is not the same as remaining married because of innocence and confidence. Have confidence in your marriage and extend that confidence to your wife. Try listening to her concerns and do not rebut. Her perception is her reality. However, this does not mean that it is correct. It does mean that you will have more success if you listen and allow her to feel however she likes. Your responsibility is to hear her out and to let her know that she is entitled to feel how she likes. Also, let her know that you will only address emotions that are going to propel your marriage to the next level. Remember: you cannot open someone’s eyes if they are ok with having them closed. Change is a personal phenomenon. Each individual has to be willing to sacrifice and compromise in order to make the marriage work. Establish a contract with your wife that focuses on generating positive energy, respect and positive regard. You should feel free in your marriage, not imprisoned.
Best regards, Dr. Buckingham
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.