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Marriage more than 20 years and now so much hurt

Community Member

Hi everyone,

This is my first post. I have been reading and watching for a while and can appreciate everyone's support on here, it is truly a great place to seek some guidance.

As my title says, my husband and I have been together for 22 years, 17 years of those married. There is an age gap of approx 10 years between us and we met when I was in my mid 20s and him mid 30s. When we met I had left a previous relationship and had a 14 month old son, I left the previous relationship of approx 5 years because I was unhappy, did not feel valued and he was a heavy drinker and seemed to have more fun with the mates than focus on us as a family unit. I felt I was there to serve, keep house and not much more.

When I met my husband, he was a nice guys, very different to what I was use to, quiet, intelligent, reserved and full of manners. All attractive qualities in a partner, just not your outgoing, social type of guy, but I thought well that is not a big thing, he had friends, long term ones and was a nice guy, opened doors for me the whole bit! I did not want to get involved straight away, as I had just come out of a relationship and had a young son and wanted to get myself settled, so we were friends, went on dates, met his friends but nothing romantic for approx 9 months as I wanted him to be sure he knew what he was getting into (with a son) and if I really wanted to get involved with someone again.

Fast forward a few years and we have had out ups and downs, lots has been accomplished together, goals achieved, he is a hard worker but very critical of how I do things, a perfectionist and very slow at getting things done because in his eyes they have to be "perfect". He is frugal with money (which has got us where we are) but the downside of this is money is not spent on making our lives easier. The old saying "you do not pay someone to do something, you can do yourself".

My relationship with my son (fast forward 20 or so years) has broken down and a couple of years ago he moved out of the house (at my request) and consequently I have not had any communication with him, which hurts. Parting ways comments like "i hate him" really sting. I feel I have let myself down for not stepping in earlier to correct the damaging behaviour of my husband.

We now have 2 boys of our own (10 & 12) they are now starting to push back on my husband and I can see the whole repeat happening.

5 Replies 5

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi ilovesweets,

Thanks for sharing your story with us. From reading this, I understand you have had some hardships and difficulties over the years, especially those related to male dominant figures. I'm sorry to hear about your current situation as I cannot imagine how difficult and helpless you may feel in a situation where you feel as though you are the only one who is trying to piece the family and your relationship together. This must have placed a lot of emotional burdens, responsibilities and hardships on you.

We will discuss about your family matters soon, however what concerns me is through reading this I do not hear much about how you are feeling, what your needs are and what needs have been or have not being met. You are a very selfless mother and wife, and I hope you give yourself more credit for what an incredible mother and strong woman you are. Although your father may not be able to see that, I hope that you at the least bit do. In saying that, I also hope you reflect on what you currently need and want, as those are prerequisites to guiding your future actions and solutions to your current problems.

In the case you still love your husband and wish to continue a future with him, I hope you discuss to him openly about how you feel. You have taken the correct steps and methods to mending the relationship, you have being understanding and have taken initiative in seeking help from a counsellor. From the sessions it seems as though he is in denial or refuses to perceive himself as other than he deems himself to be. This can be problematic as it suggests he is not willing to accept his flaws or faults and therefore will not be able to recognise and change them. Furthermore, if he has traits of OCPD, he is less likely to change due to rigid thinking styles.

Now, you have tried to seek help and he does not seem receptive to it. What do we do now? You have to decide if you can tolerate his behaviours for the rest of your life, or you wish him to change. The methods of instilling change you have taken is correct, however I hope you also voice to him how important it is to YOU for him to TRY. It is important he recognises your needs of security and stability within the family home and that he respects your needs enough to be willing to make such changes.

Community Member

Hi M99,

Firstly thank you for your very thoughtful message.

Yes you are correct in noticing that I have not really said how I feel.

I feel hurt from the years on criticism that really now I understand is more about his want to control how things are done in the house and these are not in a mean way it is more about control of doing things in a better more efficient and cost effective way.

The problem we face is he does not see this as a problem. Why not do it this way because .....

I could go on with lots of examples but ultimately it has caused years of being controlled and feeling that I am not valued, my opinion doesn’t matter.

Now I am no wallflower and this is a trait from my Dad, I can be stubborn which is probably serving me well all these years but now I am feeling a lack of desire for this man because of reaching this pinnacle of make or break.

We have not been intimate for almost a year and it’s not that he has not tried, more so I think I am protecting myself and my guard is up.

I am confused, do I still love him? Not sure, we have not said those words for years to each other, he is not big in that department of communication of feelings.

He does not praise me, tell me he is proud of me, celebrate me. They say foreplay starts well before the bedroom. He hasn’t understood that, out day to day life is boring. Not uncommon for him to fall asleep on the lounge watching the 6pm news.

He is a good man, provides, means well. He considers providing for the family is everything he does as most important, and it is however during this period of providing for us he has ultimately forgotten to have fun along the way.

I am not sure where we can go from here to get back to a time when we didn’t micro manage our life and let things be, they don’t have to be done perfectly or done his way.

I feel lost, lonely and confused , our counsellor said that for us to move forward we need to remove this boulder which is resentment and regret. Very true but he also said my husband has to learn not to try and control me, I am an individual and I may do things in a different way to him and relationships require compromise, cooperation and collaboration to succeed.

The compromising part is what I think my husband is struggling with.

What do you think?

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Glad to hear back from you ilovesweets,

I think you're absolutely right in the sense relationships require a give and take from both parties in compromise, cooperation and collaboration. From your message I am seeing that your husband is a good father in the sense he has upheld all his duties of being a provider, however amidst all his duties has forgotten the value and importance of being present emotionally and mentally. Is he aware of how overtime he has forgotten to be a present/attentive husband who attends to your emotional and mental needs?

Yes, I believe so too that foreplay begins before bed and begins with the initial gestures and acts of love, affection and care. I can understand how you would be confused how you feel, it is as though there is no longer a romantic passion within the relationship to flourish the longevity. However, over the 22 years of being together you have developed a familiarity and relationship that has undeniable impact.

I think taking into account the interest of your kids will play a pivotal role in your decision of what you'd like to do moving forward. However, I believe that happy parents are important in facilitating a home environment where the children feel safe, secure and happy. Therefore, I think it is equally important that you and your husband are happy within your marriage.

3key steps of what to do next:
1. Consider your emotions, needs and wants as this will formulate your solutions and actions moving forward.
e.g. if you would like to continue the relationship this will lead to actions where you seek help to mend your differences
2. Take into account the best interest of your children and what will facilitate a stable environment for them
3. Have a genuine discussion with your husband about your needs and wants for this relationship to work, and if he cannot respect these, this will be informative to your future decisions.)

I think that in a relationship it is very important to celebrate one another, after all validation and support is pivotal for all relationships to flourish and be maintained, it is the underlying purpose of relationships accompanied by growth.

I see, so his controlling attributes make you feel powerless at times where your opinions aren't valued enough. What are other aspects of the relationship do you think is detrimental?

Community Member

Hi M99,

Thanks for your insight.

At the moment other aspects I find are damaging to me and the family is he seems to be unaware of what is going on around him. He is focused on a task and then almost has blinkers on and is not present in the moment.

He spends alot of time "researching" on the internet to the point it can be hours and during this time he is not available or connected to the family.

He will spend alot of time "in the shed" pottering and again working on little tasks that can take hours.

We do not have a social life, this has been a huge issue for me. I like to gather and have people around but I can honestly say that over the last 6 years we have had people over less than you can count on one hand! There is always jobs to do and we have spoke about this and he says "well if you plan it with me I will make the time"

The issue is, he does not make the effort or time a priority. When the weekend comes it feel like an inconvenience to even raise the idea of having people over, because he has a list as long as his arm that he has "jobs" to do and these jobs are always outside jobs.

Inside jobs that I want and have wanted to get done since we built the house about 7 years ago are still outstanding and I guess this is also an issue as I feel what I want to achieve to make a house a home is not important.

I am sorry if it feels like I am rambling but with 20 + years of a relationship there is alot of hurt and as usual it has been the "little" issues that have hung around and not been dealt with properly that are I think our "boulder" to move forward.

Thank you for listening, I hope I am not making you feel that you are the only one to respond and take on my thoughts.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi ilovesweets,

No not at all! Do not apologise it is my pleasure to hear your story and give you some support where I can. I understand over the 20+ years of marriage there are a lot of incidences and issues that must have accumulated, so much that you may not even remember them in detail but it has formed a collective notion of feeling unappreciated and not being attended to.

I think in discussing these accumulated issues that have not being dealt with is important in addressing your emotions and seeing what is in the best interest of yourself and your family. What options are you currently thinking of doing to resolve your marital issues?

So far I am picking up that control and communication are one of the primary issues in your relationship. It seems as though he does not only possess controlling attitudes in the relationship, but also it is his nature to maintain control throughout other aspects of his life. Perhaps that is why having a set plan, schedule, process and order to doing things is so essential to him because it perhaps provides him with some sense of control and certainty over his environment. I see how this can be problematic to you, as sometimes life does not only require a degree of control but also a degree of adaptability. It seems as though he is very preoccupied with his projects and schedule that he is unable to adapt to unforeseen endeavours such as friends coming over or going out spontaneously.

I am sure your husband is a good man with well intentions as I believe you are a great wife and mother with good intentions. However, overtime peoples intentions and values can differ and that is okay. What defines those differences is how we are willing to compromise and adhere to each others changing values. It feels as though in this relationship there is a lack of appreciation, acknowledgement and compromise.

It seems as though your husband does not understand your values and needs properly. Such as the value of being present, the value of social communication, compromise and appreciation. Is he aware of this? Through your behaviours and reactions I am sure it shows, however sometimes partners can remain unaware unless told so in a conversation.