Question to the expert:
I have been married for 20 years, basically all this time we lived in silence. When I got married, I encountered this attitude for the first time: my husband kept silent and completely ignored me. The first time it happened, I was pregnant and couldn’t leave. And so it went on: one day everything is wonderful, and the next day there is complete silence. Work, kids, school, the household ate up all the time. Now I understand that this was the life that suited my husband: I wanted to change everything, but he had a breakdown, as if he had lost something important. And what should I do? I still can’t do it anymore, and I’m afraid to change something – I’m worried about my husband. I am waiting for him to make at least some kind of step….Nataly, 40 years old
Nataly, I’m not sure I understood your point correctly. What do you mean “lived in silence”? Husband does not talk to you at all, except for the domestic “pass the salt, please”? Or does he make his own decisions without consulting you? In what ways does he ignore you? Why haven’t you talked to him about this before? How have you been communicating all this time?
The fact that the issue has become relevant to you now is pretty typical. Many people break up with their partners just as they are turning 45 or more. When children grow up and leave home, it turns out that the couple have nothing in common, and that all these years they were not spouses, and parents. And often – great parents: those who understand the needs of children, supporting them in conflicts with peers, carries them to clubs and activities, supports them at competitions, sews dresses for the Christmas lights …
Only as a married couple this couple does not exist. They know about each other only that she goes on Thursdays with her friends to a museum or theater, and he on Fridays – with friends at soccer. They have nothing to talk about, they have no common interests, the only thing they had in common were their children, who have now grown up and gone on to independent adulthood.
Why didn’t the man and woman realize this sooner? It was because they were good parents: they were attentive and focused on reading their children’s needs, trying not to think about their own worries, unfulfilled desires and dreams. Deep down they could realize that there was something wrong with the marriage, but, on the other hand, they live well, without scandals, tantrums and cheating, all the money goes into the house, all the vacations are together, it is a sin to complain.
Why do not men like to talk about their feelings?
Yes, something underneath is eating, but right now my daughter needs help with a complicated biology project, and my son needs to be taken to hockey practice on the other side of town, so there is no time to figure it out.
I don’t know if the kids live with you or separately, but they probably need you less now than before. You have time for yourself, and you willy-nilly began to think about what you like to communicate with her husband, and what not. You may have come to the fact that his style of communication brings you constant discomfort.
But it may well be that he, unlike you, is quite comfortable, he has no incentive to change anything. Imagine you’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years, and everyone (and most importantly you) is fine with your behavior.
What should motivate you to change?
Talk to your husband about what you are not satisfied with in your communication, but do it without accusations, without claims, with a “I” position: only about yourself, about how you feel in those moments when he is silent. If he wants, he will change his style of communication, if he does not want to – but it will be his decision.
Your task is to tell him what you do not like. And then you will act according to the circumstances, listening to your needs and desires.