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new here -- hubby gives cold shoulder

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Hi. I really, desperately need some kind of advice. Anything at all. I am so miserable and I have absolutely nobody to turn to. My second husband (of 5 years) doesn't talk to me, and it is getting worse. He is generally fairly sociable, although private. But he has very moody periods where he is suddenly "not okay" and he clams up. He can't or won't talk to me about it or anything else and probably wouldn't say a word if I didn't ask him stuff or speak first. I spend a lot of time trying to guess ( to myself) what is wrong, get nervous and try to apease him and I feel alone and frustrated. He takes medication for mild depression but refuses to go to a doctor apart from Rx refills and then he is all smiles and everything seems fine.

What can I do? My kids and I often feel like we are walking on eggshells and never sure when he will shut down like this or what might trigger it. I have tried to talk to him about it but it is literally like talking to a wall. The pauses I leave for him to respond last an eternity and the silence is awful. I don't know what to do. Please help!!

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obviously something is bugging him as to what there is not enough info to figure that out. so Ill start by asking the basics. does he shut down doring certain topics or doring specific events. Then there is the ever popular how was his child hood and such. without a little help I can offer no direct answer.

please fill in some of the blanks.........

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The best treatment for depression has found to be a combination of meds and therapy. I think you should tell him that, for the sake of his marriage, he needs to seek therapy so that he can be properly treated.


You should not have to put up with this behaviour, especially when it is treatable. Have a serious talk with him and tell him that unless he sees a doctor for a referral you will have to 'consider your options'.

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Thanks for the replies. Some extra info for those interested (sorry that this is kinda long ---- thanks for reading): hubby has said he has always had problems expressing strong emotions, and I can understand/accept that. What bugs me is how he can't EVER talk about his issues. The most recent "episode" - he was doing some yard work and all seemed well. We chatted about landscaping and stuff. It was nearing dinnertime. He likes to cook so he was okay about going in and starting dinner (just a fry up of meat and quickie frozen veg). I had to go out and get some milk and he seemed okay with that. I asked if he wanted anything else from the store etc etc. All was well. I come back about 15 minutes later and as I put the milk away I ask "Everything okay?" (ie - meaning --- food coming along? you're okay? anything you need me to do for you at the moment..........just a typical "I'm back how's it goin?" kinda question. He is tight lipped and says in his quiet, passive/aggressive way: "No. It's not okay."

My blood goes cold and I ask him what's up? What's the problem? No reply. He just keeps cooking. The silences are awful. He gets industrious like he's too busy to reply and if I press it, well, I'm interrupting him doing this task for me now aren't I?.


I am pissed off, where as usually I am upset and try to work out what's bugging him and see how I can help---- give him a hug or pour him a cold drink etc. But I just start doing dishes (had been left from the morning cos it was a weekend day). We eat in basic silence after I get the kids to turn the TV off. After dinner I do a ton of ironing that was needing attention even though it is stinking hot (about 100 degrees) and nothing is said. By bedtime it is that cold "Hope you sleep well. See you in the morning" thing and that's about it. I wonder why I automatically start doing chores when he is in a mood and I figure it is cos it is protection for me......I am doing something constructive so if he wants to crab at me I am not loafing or doing some self-indulgent thing. All the while I am in the total dark about what is his problem.


A few nights later when he seems more "normal" I brave it to ask what was bugging him that night. He says he doesn't know. I explain it makes me nervous and I am left guessing and worrying. he says he can't really help me with it, he doesn't really know. I push and ask again and he says he got kinda edgey. I ask about what. He doesn't know. He says a lot of things bother him and sometimes something will just be a trigger for him. I ask what sort of things bother him that much that he gets that upset and tensed up. Again.....he can't really answer. All this takes forever to unfold as there are the enormous gaps between my questions and his responses. I am calm, quiet and just asking in non-threatening or upset tones. Inside I am screaming and want to say he is a manipulating pig who is really really hurting me with his silence and his rapid mood shifts and it is not fair to keep me in this dark void and it is suffocating the soul out of me and I am sad and hurting and doesn't he give a * * * * about how I feel????? But I sat calm and steady and pleasant. I cry myself to sleep. I am not really sleeping anyway. I am awake til 3am most nights tossing and turning while he snores softly. But the whole no-speak moodiness is so draining.


I know this is long. I appreciate the feedback. I miss my husband. We used to chat. Never torents of conversation, but normal chat. Now, if I don't speak or ask him a question, he would hardly utter a word to me. It is so lonely.

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Your husband sounds exactly like my father! And later on I was exactly the same. This horrible crushing anxiety/fear/guilty crush thing would come all over me and I would be so angry about something so small but I couldn't express it in any way. I would just retreat because I didn't have the skills to do anything about. My girlfriend at the time would drive us both nuts trying to get me to talk about it- she would get so upset because I wouldn't, just didn't know how to explain how I felt and one time she even threw herself down the stairs just to get a reaction out of me. The rest of the time she (just as me and my mother had done to my father) was desperately trying to stop me "turning off" and closing up. But it inevitably happened.


Why did my Dad do it? Why did I do it? I guess my father did it and I grew up where the male rolemodel was childish and selfish and I thought it was ok. But that's not to say that every time I started sulking it didn't eat away at my self-esteem- but when I was growing up if I was in a mood the communication wasn't there- my parents generally just got irritated and waited for me to feel better because they didn't know how to help me deal with whatever was bothering me.


So when I went out into the world and got a girlfriend who seemed so free and always talking and laughing and I felt so stunted and unable to communicate and inadequate and isolated. I ended up going into these huge moods because I felt so unable to interact with the world properly.


Then it got so bad that ended up in therapy and my life really changed. I learnt to recognise how inadequate I felt, and of course how pointless and selfish I was being. One thing (and I totally understand that you love your husband and want to help him) that I realised my girlfriend at the time could have done was to give me my space. It made it worse to see that I was so easily controlling the people around me. Despite my inadequate feelings it was a little powertrip.


Men are from Mars Women are from Venus. cliche though it is, taught me this piece of amazing advice which changed everything-


Men like to retreat into their caves when they're in a bad mood and if you follow them in they'll strike out at you.


If I had realised that- I would have realised that it was ok for me to be in a funk and want to be alone- instead of feeling constantly guilty/angry towards my girlfriend because I couldn't tell her "what's wrong". I became much better at communicating and also asking for space I clearly needed (since I had a lot of emotional issues I needed to deal with), and if I had that space, once I knew what I had to deal with, I always came back out.


Can anyone get to that stage without therapy? I don't know. My father dragged me into therapy (because he knew he had problems and he was the only person who could see them in me). I may have resisted anyone else trying to get me to go.


My next girlfriend did the most amazing thing and if you can I'd suggest this to you- if I got in a mood she would just smile and say fine, call me when you're ready because I've got better things to do than this. And she went and did whatever. And ..... I always called. And I almost never get like that anymore.


I going on all about myself sorry but I wanted to try to explain it from your husband's perspective (if he's the same as me) - not to excuse him because he has no right to treat you like that, but just to try and show that it comes not from anger and power but from weakness and feelings of inadequacy. And being unable to answer the question "what's wrong?" is deeply deeply humiliating and only makes it worse. If you can try to build a life outside of him. Try to show him that not all eyes are on him because he sounds very sensitive and he's probably aware that you are tiptoeing around him. And again that just makes it worse.


Good luck! You don't have to put up with it and he can change!!! Fighting and pushing isn't the answer - show him he's free to feel like that and its ok. That might mean pulling back, ignoring him, showing him the world doesn't revolve round him!!!


I hope you can relate to this and it isnt just all about me!!! If it's the latter I'm sorry!!!

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Thank you for the insights, happytown. I can see the logic in what you are saying, and about now, it is worth a try. I guess I have always been afraid if I just let him be in his mood and carry on with my stuff, that I would appear uncaring or cold. But I need to try some different approaches, cos not much is working the way things are at the moment! It was kinda nice to hear someone else recognise (even admit to) a similar problem. I thank you very much for sharing that too.

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Thankyou for your kind words too, I was worried it was a thread hijack!!!


I hope you are successful and you get your husband back! I just read back through your posts again and wanted to add something-


Whilst your husband's problems and anxieties and pangs of aggression may involve you, I believe they are not because of you or, in fact, anything to do with you. Its almost impossible to accept that because mental problems are a messy messy business and the people close to you get caught up in the neuroses and get hurt and wounded deeply......but they are just that: mental problems, serious deficiencies in social coping skills which must be treated like the illness that they are. It makes it (obviously I've never had to do this, the people around me have had to, and its difficult) ten times easier if you can accept that, just as you wouldn't expect someone with pneumonia to pop to the shops with you, someone with these problems cannot interact with you. It's not that he won't, or is refusing, he simply doesn't know how to talk to you- and at the moment it sounds like he really doesn't want to either.


If he could talk what he might say might really hurt you- it might be a web of confused ideas which might be "you really annoy me when you do this...I'm sick of this.... I want to ...." and it won't make any sense but it'll sound like its all about you or he's unhappy with his life etc.. and it's not the core issue and it's not something you really need to hear- a therapist can listen to all that without emotion, untangle it, and then wait for the real problems (about himself) to emerge.


Can I ask you- does he occasionally explode and blame everyone and get angry at you for things you've long forgotten? It sounds like he has a lot of resentment- hence the passivity/aggression. He can't get any more angry at himself and it might be spewing over onto you and your family- its much easier to blame something exterior. He might need to learn how to own his feelings and stop projecting.


It's a horrible fine line that people with mental illness have to walk between taking responsibility for their actions and accepting they are slaves to chains of thought and actions which take a long process to change. If I think "this is me ignoring and snapping at my loved one" then I can go two ways- pull myself out of it or go deeper still into self-hatred and blame. On the other hand being a "patient" ("I'm not in control of this beast inside me")is just as isolating. The hardest thing I have to deal with is forgiving myself. But the people who I remain close to, and I have to really thank my brother, because however I behave, though he might get annoyed, he knows I have trouble and he forgives me for it and it helps me to forgive myself.


Does your husband think he's sick? Do you think he's sick? I have people around me who saw it as illness and people who couldn't. If I'm overstating the situation it's because I'm maybe projecting my own situation onto yours. Realising I had a problem rather than a bad personality made me freer to help myself. I hope you can make your husband see that too! I feel so strongly for you in the situation you are in and I just want to reach out accross cyberspace and help if I could- but all I can give is my support. I wish you all the best!! Please message me if I can do anything!

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