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Depressed - feeling like an unappreciated husband
I have been happily married for about 19 years, and have 3 wonderful children (11, 10 & 4 yrs). We are financially stable, I have a good job and I am a good, thoughtful and involved husband who actively cooks, cleans, irons, gardens, looks after the kids, helps with school, the taxi driver, IT consultant at home, and organises a lot of the family life. I do this because I love the family, and they do say thank you.
I do a lot of things for my wife...often it is the small thoughtful things that matter. The problem is that although my wife does say thank you, that is where it stops. I know she loves me, but I do not feel loved, for example:
- I buy my own birthday presents for everyone to give back to me. The one thing I wished and asked for (a family event such as an adventure course, ropes course etc - so we can have an experience all together, has never been followed through)
- I ensure that much of the house work is done so that my wife is not burdened with this
- I adapt and flex to her needs, but there seems little in return
- I initiate physical contact (hugs etc), but it is rarely initiated back
- I always initiate sex, but it is rarely initiated back
- Her phone calls, texts and messages seems to take priority over me
- I was desperately tired and stressed due to work and asked for a holiday as I was exhausted, but I ended up organising everything
- She never seems to be happy - or I don't appear to be able to make her happy anymore
The things that I do for her are not reciprocated. I always try to be a better husband, but I am frustrated, am starting to feel hopeless and depressed. We have had conversations about my needs in the past, things get better for a couple of weeks, then it reverts back to the old ways. I am an intelligent and loving husband and father who can normally figure things out for myself...but this one has me absolutely stumped.
Depression will stop anyone from being able to appreciate what has been done or how much someone has been working so hard to try and please them, it's mentally not possible.
Have you thought that she
Hope to hear back from you, I'm about to log off as I start very early in the morning but your comment caught my eye, never the less, reply and someone else will continue on from me, but will get back to you in the morning.
I too am most impressed with the amount you contribute to your family - no wonder you are tired and stressed. On top of work this sounds a superhuman effort.
It may be that superhuman effort is in some way a problem. I find when I do something for someone I have expectations. Obviously the first is they say 'Thanks', but it goes deeper than that. I expect some form of reciprocation. After all, my time and effort costs me - it should be valued. If it appears it is not then the obvious conclusion is my time and effort has no worth - at least in their eyes.
To put it bluntly, in many cases if you act like a servant you may end up being regarded as one.
The other thing about superhuman efforts is they can make those less able or energetic feel highly inadiquate. If dad does it perfectly my efforts will look pretty ordinary, so I don't really feel like trying.
How you find if these two ideas apply, and how to combat such problems is not that easy as you have established a very long term routine and talks in the past have not been that fruitful. However it is food for thought.
Geoff has a valid point, you wife may indeed be suffering a mental ailment, for her to have a checkup sounds like a pretty good idea.
Do you think there may be some truth in any of this?
Thank you for your comments Geoff and Croix. You both raise points that I have previously considered, but not really followed through on because of the difficulties at validating your own thoughts independently.
I have often wondered if depression had come into it because of the lack of response, i.e., being constantly stuck in a rut. I've also considered the 'act like a servant - end up being regarded as one' perspective. It is often difficult balancing the need to get things done (because you've got a family with 3 kids) compared to letting her struggle in order to let her appreciate the work that I do.
I'm still unsure where to go to from here, and your thoughts offer some insights.
Yes, it is a situation without a clear remedy -particularly has you have talked things over before.
I do have a couple of thoughts. Firstly you said you were starting to feel hopeless and depressed. In that event I'd suggest seeing your GP with a view to being assessed for depression. If you have the starlings of this then early intervention would seem a good move.
Secondly is it possible to throw your family more on their own resources without making it into an obvious ploy. Perhaps something on the lines of a hobby or outside interest that consumes more of your time. It would mean being somewhat tough-minded when things don't get done, at least initially.
Of course there is counseling for the pair of you together as another option
Just an alternate opinion, but maybe your wife thinks you do those things just because you like them? Maybe she didn't realize you were doing them in the hopes for them to be done back to you. Has this been a longstanding issue with your wife, or something more recent? I would say that my ex partner also did more for me than I did for him, but I actually didn't want him doing things for me, because it didn't feel like he was doing them out of the goodness of his own heart. It always came with conditions and so I was left wishing that he just wouldn't do those things for me, as he would only end up getting angry in the long-run and I could do those things for myself. Conversely, I was quite happy to do things for him but he never wanted me to or I never did it right, so in the end I didn't bother, and then he would get annoyed. Perhaps you should just come out and ask your wife straight why she doesn't, there may be a reason?
I can see a lot of my situation in yours. I am a bit further down the road with 4 kids in their late teens. You have both been working really hard to raise your kids. We get in habits and patterns of behaviour. You and your wife are most likely in your 40's. A difficult life stage. Beware midlife dissatisfaction and midlife crisis.
My suggestion is for you to make little consistent changes. Make a regular time to do something with your wife outside the house eg movie, walk, gym etc. Go away together for the weekend. Also make sure you both spend time with your own friends. These things often take a back seat when raising kids. Book the family adventure course yourself at a time that suits your family. Also, try and get the kids in the habits of helping with chores. Even if it is one each. Start small.
Read these books 'The Mans Guide to Women' by John Gottman and 'The Five Love Languages' by Gary Chapman. When you know her love language do these things for your wife.
Make time for yourself eg exercise, guy friends otherwise you risk becoming a taken for granted doormat (sorry to be blunt but this happened to me and my husband slid easily into a self centred midlife crisis where everything was about him).
Regarding sex, back off a little from initiating it (but don't drop it completely). Build emotional intimacy with your wife. Google this and the John Gottman book is good.
Listen to your wife and how she is feeling.
I know all of this takes time and money but your relationship is worth it and ending up dealing with a full blown midlife crisis is very expensive and emotionally heartbreaking.
Start small and build some new fun habits. I hope this helps. You sound like a genuinely kind, caring and loving person.