The BeautifullyHappy blog has been on hiatus for a bit, but I’m ramping it back up with a fun, interactive endeavor… the BeautifullyHappy Advice Column. A few of the emails I’ve received, and the responses I’ve made, feel like they might be too universal not to share.
Email your questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can ask about beauty tips, household hints or relationship concerns – whether it’s your boss, your sister, your child or your significant other. I’ll do our best to research your concerns and provide the best advice possible. Readers, you’ll be able to chime in, too, in the comments section.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Submit a question here.
Our first question comes from Joanne in Memphis. Joanne writes:
Hi Kat. I love your blog and miss seeing your thoughtful posts and ideas. You usually hit the nail right on the head!
I read your post about depression with great interest and recognized the “anger turned inward” in myself. For years, I have been struggling with increasing frustration with my husband. He is spending less and less time at home, is working more and when he is at home he doesn’t seem to be emotionally available. Sometimes, it feels like the only time he’s interested in me is when he’s interested in sex, and even that doesn’t happen much anymore.
I’m unsure what to do. I’ve tried to talk to him about it, but we end up in an argument each time.
I’d be grateful for any ideas you have. Thank you for your time.
Communication breakdowns in relationships are difficult. They usually happen slowly, over time. Needs go unmet, resentments build… and then they manifest in our behaviors towards one another.
Disconnect on one side usually happens for one of two reasons… either the individual (in this case, your husband) has a personal issues causing him not to be able to connect in the first place, or he’s feeling his needs aren’t being met… and this can cause him to make less of an effort to engage.
Now, if it’s the latter, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your fault. Just because someone feels their needs aren’t being met, it doesn’t mean their needs are REASONABLE. (Some men operate from a misogynistic starting point, in which they have firm expectations that “their” woman pleasure them in all things… a lady in the street and a freak in the bed, etc.) But figuring out what those needs are, whether or not they are reasonable, and whether or not you can comfortably expect yourself to meet them, requires communication.
When we address one another, we often try to talk about the symptoms, rather than what we suspect might be the disease. For example: “John, you seem really distant lately…” (That’s not even a question… it’s a statement, and one about the symptom, rather than the disease.)
Instead, what if we attempted to communicate by saying, “Are you getting what you need out of our relationship?”
There’s a zinger. Depending upon your husband, you might actually bring him up short. You might see a look of surprise on his face.
Now, he may answer you honestly, or he may be so surprised by the question (and have been avoiding it for so long in himself) that he can’t answer it right away. So, depending upon your guy (you know him better than I do), you might offer this, instead, as a direct question: “I’m interested in what you need from our relationship. Will you think about it and get back to me?”
He may be so relieved to have a chance to speak that he’ll start spewing stuff out right away… but don’t be surprised if some of it sounds critical. If he’s been holding it inside for too long, there might be a lot of fear surrounding that. Try not to get defensive. Just listen. REALLY listen. Eventually, you’ll want (and ultimately require) to have your turn to do the same. If he’s not a control-freak who needs to be right all the time, he’ll allow you that. (If he is… you’ve got bigger problems…)
The bottom line is this: We are in relationships to get our needs met. When they’re not being met, we feel cranky. YOUR job is to attempt to listen… to allow him space to communicate what needs of his aren’t being met, to communicate which needs of YOURS aren’t being met, and to attempt to find a reasonable compromise or solution. HIS job is to communicate, and then to listen as well. Assuming you’re both adults, this communication should do you both some good. However, if either of you is coming from a place of fear and/or a need to control the other, it ain’t lookin’ too good.
(That’s a whole other ball of worms. Passive-aggressiveness, lack of communication, flat-out anger in response to fear… it doesn’t bode well for healthy communicate or a healthy relationship.)
Finally, it is up to YOU to decide two things: A) If his “needs” are reasonable in your mind and you’re willing to accommodate them without crossing your own boundaries and B) if your own “needs” are reasonable, and they don’t require him crossing HIS boundaries.
I hope this helps.
If you have a question and would like some input, submit it here.
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