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Thread: Sadness over my husband and my family

  1. #1

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    Sadness over my husband and my family

    Looking for some advice. I am all out of ideas.
    My husband suffers from anxiety. This condition is fueled around my family side of the family and their get-togethers and holidays. This has not always been the case (early in dating and marriage things were ok). Now (about 7 years in) he refuses to attend most things. Iíve tried to be understanding but we have children and showing up alone so much is becoming pretty saddening to me and Iím struggling explaining how well-meaning people are causing him stress and anxiety. I usually try and make up an excuse to diffuse the questions. My husband and I have gotten in countless fights about this topic. At this point, I feel sad and defeated. I have always been really close to my family. Iím not sure if I should confide in someone, leave things be, or what?

  2. #2
    Platinum Member LaHermes's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about this situation OP.

    Look, I'll try to make this as simple as possible for you.

    Don't explain or make excuses. Above all do not have "countless fights" with your husband on the matter. He is your husband and your family (stating the obvious here) is not your husband.

    Just a question: how, in your opinion, are these well-meaning people (perceivedly well-meaning) causing him stress and anxiety?

  3. #3

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    Thank you for the response. He has told me that he doesnít think certain family members like him and compare him to my sisters husband. I definitely agree they have quirks but I truly do not think they dislike or try to exclude him and often want him to be there. Iíve come to a place of asking him to only attend some things but even that is a battle.

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    Platinum Member LaHermes's Avatar
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    Well, LR, I feel it would be best to cease any battles. Never conducive to reaching any good understanding.

    If he doesn't want to go, then so be it. Go alone or with your children as and when required. Maybe you might negotiate with him to go with you just once a year to one of these gatherings.

    So, what about HIS side of the family? Do you see them, often or sometimes, and does he go to their gatherings, if any?

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  6. #5

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    Ya that seems most logical. With no explanation to my family about why he isnít there? It feels so uncomfortable most times.

    His side has less get togethers but those give him anxiety too. I maintain many of the relationships on his side but he at least shows up to their holidays etc.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member LaHermes's Avatar
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    Well, LR. I fear that uncomfortable is often part and parcel of life. L.

    That said, you don't need to explain that your husband suffers from anxiety. Is his anxiety generalised? About other matters aside from family gatherings?

    Your family should not press you for explanations. Keep it brief, along the lines of "Well,you know, Jim prefers his quiet time on his own. It's how he is. He sends you all his warmest wishes."

  8. #7

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    True. Thanks for chatting it out. He does suffer general anxiety. I guess now I just have to figure out how to live with a marriage that is extremely different than what I had envisioned for myself and my children.

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    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Are there other issues with his withdrawal? He doesn't have to hang around with your family if he doesn't want to. Perhaps you are close to them but many people simply don't want to be joined at the hip with their in-laws.

    Let it go. No need to "make excuses", that's your family's problem if they keep asking why he "should" be there. Perhaps they get on his nerves, perhaps he's bored, perhaps it's some time he can carve out without the kids around or family time.

    You need to start planning more things with friends, just you two as a couple or just your own family without the extended family. Having the in-laws constantly in tow is simply too much for some people.

    Stop fighting about it. Invitations to your family are not subpoenas, relax, let him use it as 'alone time' while you enjoy your family. Problem solved.
    Originally Posted by LRPNJD
    my family side of the family and their get-togethers and holidays. I usually try and make up an excuse to diffuse the questions. My husband and I have gotten in countless fights about this topic.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Make an appointment for yourself for a therapist to unpack and sort some of this out. Don't try to fix him or his family. Just stop that. Instead figure out what's up with the marriage, because family parties is a symptom, not the root of whatever marital issues are there under the surface.

    Is he withdrawing from you? How is communication or intimacy? Is there someone else? All these things you could privately and confidentially discuss with a therapist. If at some point marriage therapy is suggested, you could ask him to join you.

    But first, start with you. Don't argue or try to guilt trip him into being with your family to keep up appearances.
    Originally Posted by LRPNJD
    I guess now I just have to figure out how to live with a marriage that is extremely different than what I had envisioned for myself and my children.

  11. #10
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    Originally Posted by LRPNJD
    True. Thanks for chatting it out. He does suffer general anxiety. I guess now I just have to figure out how to live with a marriage that is extremely different than what I had envisioned for myself and my children.
    Op, you do NOT have to just " figure out how to live with it" and you shouldn't. You need to try and work this out together. Otherwise if neither of you is really happy, there is going to be resentment for one or both of you or else lead to an inevitable breakup.

    Anyone who has been married long -term will tell you that all marriages go thru highs and lows, no marriage is perfect. The fact is people change and it can sometimes to hard to process how or why your spouse changed. Whether or not you see it- every single marriage has tough times, even the happiest ones. There is no perfect person or perfect relationship, so get any ideas of perfection out of your head- because it doesn't exist. That being said, sometimes we also make mistakes when we get married. Sometimes we do love someone, but as time goes by, we realize that either we aren't compatible anymore or perhaps never really were.
    What to you is so "entirely differrent"? IMHO, you need to ask yourself this question. Then think about if this can be worked thru, or if perhaps if you don't see a long term future. Whatever you do, please do not just stay in this marriage to stay in the marriage. That would not be happy or healthy for any of you.


    If you DO decide you want to try and work things out-
    Maybe talk with your family and mention that YOU don't like them comparing your husband to your brother in law. This is where you have to be supportive and ask your family not to do something that hurts your husband. I'm wondering if perhaps you subconsciously agree with the veiled criticism by comparison and your husband has picked up on this? You need to stand up for him, he's your husband. I'll be honest with you, the first MIL I ever had did NOT like me and made it pretty clear with little comments and jabs and my ex-husband never stood up to her. It certainly didn't make me want to visit her and it made me feel like he didn't love me enough to stand up for me the way I would have, had the roles been reversed. No one likes to feel attacked and making sure our spouses feel accepted and loved no matter the circumstance is incredibly important.
    Make sure that he knows that you love him as he is, not just an image you had of him or a husband in general. Does he have a medical professional to help him with his anxiety? If not, he should seek care.

    How old are your children? Something that isn't discussed a lot (because we often just see childbearing and how having children effects women) but many men have issues after adding children to their family. Whether it be fear of the sense of permanence, Anxiety about growing older, viewing their wife in a different light or plain old jealousy that the kids are getting most of the wife's attention. It could be one, none or all of these.
    If your children are both young, you probably are more focused on them- which ISN'T a bad thing, but you need to try and notice how your husband might be feeling in this dynamic. Observe. I mention this because you say things weren't this way at the start (Ie Before having kids)

    You are going to have to keep talking about this, unpleasant as it may be. Try your best to really hear him and not be judgmental. But please, for both your sakes and especially your children's, don't just "live with it". That is recipe for long term unhappiness, resentment and depression and not healthy for anyone.

    He should be seeing someone for his anxiety alone and you should consider couples counseling. In the meanwhile, you have some hard thinking to do.

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