When you’re unhappy, it hurts even more to realize your husband does not notice. Eventually, you may begin withdrawing from the relationship, hoping for a response or perhaps just some time to think. Eventually, you might start thinking about separation or divorce.
You may think you’re headed for an amicable divorce. By the time you tell him you’re ready for one, he’s likely to surprise you by crying that he’s loves you more than anything, can’t believe you’re leaving, and does not want you to go.
While this might have been exactly what you wanted at the beginning of this awful downhill slide, it comes as totally unexpected and quite possibly unwelcome once your heart is done mourning the death of your relationship and ready to move on.
If any of this very common story sounds familiar, here are some things you ought to know to handle it a little better.
First, men generally don’t monitor the health of a relationship as often as women do once a woman has said, “I do.” If you don’t mention your unhappiness, it’s likely to go unnoticed.
Second, beyond any leftover childhood attachment issues, your husband has a body in which testosterone pushes and oxytocin pulls. When you cut back on physical contact, he releases less oxytocin, weakening the bond between you, the trust, and the ease of communicating.
Third, you probably measure how much you are loved by how much you get of your particular one of Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages. But there is no guarantee you and your husband share the same Love Language. If you cut back on the things that signal love to you as a way to clue him into your disappointment, he might not notice.
So, speak up about your unhappiness. But before you conclude your unhappiness has anything to do with your husband, try this:
- Ask yourself what it is you want him to do differently.
- Ask yourself why you want this, what do you need or want. Often it’s a neater home, more money, a companion for branching out into a new sport or hobby, or fewer responsibilities.
- Ask yourself how else you might get this if your husband won’t or can’t provide it — or if you were to divorce.
- In a calm moment when you have his attention, tell your husband what you need or want, without accusing him of failing you. Instead, ask his help in thinking of ways to get it or to get around the obstacles to your ideas for getting it without his help.
This way, you sidestep the natural human instinct to defend oneself and tap into the natural human instincts to solve problems and help those you love.