What is stressing My Man?!?!?!

QUESTION: My husband and I have been together married six years now and it seems as if we are growing apart every day. I have three kids (not biologically his) and my oldest and him have quit talking to each other. Well, he has quit talking to her. He stays angry all the time and takes his anger out on us. Most days, when he gets home he will go to our neighbor’s house and stay there until almost bedtime. We argue over the kids, money, how the house work is done and honestly, I think I have found my breaking point. I know that he has joined a premade family but after so many years, when will he get over that? Everyone says that he done something most men would not do. I get that, I really do but when will that crutch be lifted? I am so sick of the arguing and verbal abuse. Meanwhile, our sex life is not the best in the world. I ask, and he shuts me down. I cannot take much more of it. Just last night he got mad at me. I really don’t know why. I told my youngest to put her empty soda can on the sink and I will wash it out in a few minutes. He came into the kitchen and said you can’t leave those on the sink. I said I’m not and I will put them up in a few minutes. Well, he goes storming out of the kitchen and saying stuff under his breath. He leaves for a while. What was the point of him being upset over the soda cans. Was it because I didn’t move them when he told me to? I am bible bread so divorce is not an option for me (unless he was having an affair or physically abusive). I fight for what I believe in and I believe in marriage but when is enough, enough? I just don’t know what to do? All I really want to know is does he want out? I mean if he does, shouldn’t he just say hey, I’m done?

GARLAND: Thanks for your question and I’m sorry it took so long to answer. Chuck and I have been bouncing around some things aside from this blog and I halfway thought we were going to just let it fade away. I guess we won’t though.

I don’t know if the “Ready Made Family” is the issue here. Assuming he’s a guy with at least an average intelligence, he should have known that he was moving into a serious situation and he was going to have to make some adjustments in his lifestyle, temperament and expectations. He’s not alone – you and your kids had to be prepared for changes as well. You used the term “when will he get over that…” I understand what you are saying, but I don’t want you to think of your newly joined family as something that has to be “gotten over” – I’m sure you and your kids are a blessing to your husband, whether he knows it or not. I encourage you to not think of you and your children as a burden or an obstacle. People have to get over; life changing illness; loss of a loved one; loss of a job; Republicans; but not a new family.

That being said, let me be candid here. I doubt that you and your children are the root issue here. We men are funny, by that I mean fickle – we hold stuff in, especially to our women. Deep deep down we don’t want our women to know that sometimes we are weak, sometimes we get scared, sometimes we are holding on by a thin thread, sometimes we are just plain HUMAN. Many times, we are just too arrogant and too stupid to turn to the ones who love us the most and just say, “Baby, I have a problem…’’ I’m speaking from personal experiences here because I’m a guy, I have my issues and while I’m pretty open with my wife, I don’t always share the things that are bothering me. I have things bothering me right this moment and I bet that if I sat down with my wife and put all my cards on the table, she’d hug me and tell me that – together we can make it all better. And, I know that she’d be right. Am I going to do that – No Way! Because I don’t want to look weak and flawed in front of her. Like I said, We men are funny like that.

It is in these times of not wanting to open up that we men lash out at the stupid little things. The soda can in the sink, the cereal that was left open on the kitchen counter, the light that was left on in the bathroom, the dirty cleats in the corner getting mud on the carpet. These are the things that give us the opportunity to lash out and vent our frustration at ourselves. Sometimes we are like simmering volcanoes, holding in pressure and pressure and more pressure until we erupt and impact everything around us. We don’t mean to do this, and sometimes the pressure of KNOWING we’re doing this adds to even more stress. It is no wonder that so many men suffer from medical issues – we compress so much into ourselves that we give ourselves ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes!

My advice is this. Take your husband away for a day trip or an over-night somewhere, just the two of you. Hold his hand and just talk about light hearted things, no bills, not the kids, not the fools at work (You KNOW you have some fools at work – we ALL do!) and just get close to him. Let him talk, make the time together about the two of you and your happiness together. He probably wants to talk to you about what may be bothering him and maybe you’ll help him to open up. Don’t try hard to force him though – if you do, he may tuck his head in like a turtle and you’ve lost. Just get him to loosen up. If he starts talking candidly, let him go, let him talk, don’t say anything – just nod if you have to. If you interrupt us, we may realize that we’re opening up and we might stop.

If you can’t get away like that, then do this – BE THE WOMAN HE MARRIED. By that I mean, the next time he lashes out at you or the kids for something that is clearly petty, try to step outside of the conflict and BE THAT WOMAN THAT HE LOVES AND TREASURES, and step to him and take his hands or embrace him and say his name and just ask him “What’s wrong Baby?” or “Hey, this isn’t you. Talk to me honey.” It is important that you step outside of the tension and get a neutral mindset and show him that you are an equal partner in his well being and let him know that the soda can in the sink, or whatever caused his current blow up is not the issue. Just give him the window to share what is really bothering his spirit. It might open up some needed windows in your relationship. He is going to have to do some heavy lifting as well, because he is going to have to give something too. He won’t tell all of his secrets, we never will, but he might give you access into part of what is causing his tension, and if that works once… well it might work down the road as well, and before you know it – those flare ups may become more and more rare. Best of luck to you.

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