Marriage Is Falling Apart with Self Absorbed Husband

Updated on March 15, 2008
L.C. asks from Altadena, CA
7 answers

I have a very self absorbed husband whom I don't respect anymore. We've been married for almost 7 years and last year had a baby daughter who is now 14 months. Our marriage has always been very rocky because pre-baby, he is always concentrated either on his need to join groups/associations (he likes to feel like he 'belongs') or his need to please his parents (by constantly going there). My complaint is the fact that he wants a 'happy marriage' but does not want to spend the effort in building a future with me. I always want to talk and plan about our future (baby , work, where we live, etc), but any such pressure freaks him out. So a couple of years ago, we separated for a month. I didn't want to give up on us, but he wanted a divorce. Then he decided to giver our relationship another try after a month. That was 3 years ago. Then, last year, my daughter was born. Since my daughter's birth (since day 3), he is always worried about his daughter not bonding with his parents. I made an effort to go there every week during my maternity leave even though I was going through lack of sleep (my daughter woke every 3 hours until 6 1/2 months) and feeling that she wasn't bonding with me for the longest time. Then after I went back to work reduced time (6 instead of 8 hours), his mom got cancer so now he is even more freaked out about time spent with them. He uses that as a reason, but quite frankly, even before his mom had cancer he needed to go there at least once a week anyway (they live 15 minutes away). I tell him that i understand cause my mom had cancer too (stage 4 and luckily is in remission), but that we as children do the best we can, but we also still need to lead our current lives cause we still have responsibilities too. I think he uses his mom's illness as a way to not face our lives....FYI: He is an attorney working in the public sector. I am working as an accountant with reduced hour. Since my daughter is a bad sleeper (and she also has lots of allergy problems from 4 months), she wakes at 5 am and I take care of her until i leave for work at 7 am. Then I try to be as efficient as i can at work and even skip lunch so that i can go pick her up at 2pm to breastfeed her (since she had lots of allergies (dairy, egg, fish, nuts, corn...etc), I try to be careful of what i eat and breastfeed her to build her immune system up). I then spend the afternoon with her (doing errands on days), prepare her food for daycare (now that she is on solids) until my husband comes home at 6:30. His only duty is to give her a bath at 6:30 which he sometimes can't even get home on time for. He says it's too hard to get back, but then he says he likes public sector so he can work less. But if he can work less, then why can't he be home earlier to help out? Worse yet, why does he force me to work? (FYI: if i don't work, we will be in a very tight situation and knowing how he feels about me not working, it's hard for me to quit my job). I am angry cause if only he would work a little harder, he can make up what I make just through bonus alone (ie if he goes to a private company). He says it's not so easy to find a job and that he doesn't want to work harder. Then, why is he putting that pressure on me? Especially when what I make really takes a lot of time and effort on me and then he doesn't even help out at home. Yesterday, he admitted he is self absorbed and that he has issues. He says we both have issues (i admit i do too) and that he just can't seem to get out of his own mind to think about me. Overall, he is a good father and plays and takes care of our daughter when he needs to. I am very fed up with our relationship and feel very hopeless about it. I don't know if we really should separate or if i should quit my job or what. In a way, i feel stuck cause i feel like if i quit my job, then he would want me to take my daughter to my in laws all the time. It's as if I need to pick between work (since he won't work harder) vs going to my in laws (in the case where if I don't work, that's what he would need me to do). Currently, he is going to his parent's place twice a week after work to have dinner with them at night. In his mind, it's cause his mom is sick (by the way, her cancer is gone, but she has a more aggresive kind and so is going through chemo to make sure it goes away). My daughter and I don't go cause my daughter sleeps at 7 pm (i try to have her sleep earlier since she hives up more at night and with less sleep she gets agitated and itchy). I was hoping that he would be happier if he can see his parents more and thus more focused on his own family (me) after. But instead, he just is more absorbed with his parent's life and we are more on separate pages. He admits too that the more I give him the more he needs, but then he also tell me he can't become less self absorbed even though he tries (he's been in personal counseling for many years now). So I am very confused. I feel tired, upset, overextended, angry.....Any advice or any one with similar experiences?

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answers from San Francisco on

It is not easy. Marriage is alot of push and pull. My dad came from a broken home and always has said (as a child especially), the consequences of divorce never, never, end. However, I recognize there is a place for that too. I believe that you are in a position to have this relationship turn around. The best thing you can do is look inward first. There are alot of books that can start you on the right path. I personally love The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. Have you seen the Secret? Similar thinking. Start by focusing on the good in your relationship and start by feeling those things, then express what you are grateful for in your marriage to your husband. Find ways to deepen your relationship. It may sound cheesy, but plan romantic dinners for 2 at home, leave little notes for him where he will find them throughout the day. Do something meaningful for him and expect nothing in return. You do this over time and it will become very fulfilling and rewarding to you. My husband sometimes becomes over focused on his life and often I find it is when I am complaining the most. Your husbands need to belong is probably more of a need of needing to feel valued. Find ways to show him how much you appreciate and benefit from the sacrifices he does make (even if they are few). Recognize the stress he has on his plate and ask what you can do to support.
As for his parents...any chance of inviting them over instead of you both going over there all the time. Invite them into your schedule so it isn't taking away from your life. Invite them for dinner or a Sunday afternoon when you take your baby to the park. If they are at your place, maybe they would understand if you slipped in for a nap while they played with baby or visited with hubby. You probably would have alot to gain if you developed a relationship with them. Ask them for advice. How you could better understand or help your husband. When you come from this perspective they will probably go out of their way to support your marriage in ways you may not recognize.
I am in no way trying to belittle your situation. I understand how challenging this can be. I also can see the greatness of it because you are on the verge of great growth and progression. Your soul can only stretch when you are pushing through hard times.
Lift up your chin and find gratitude that your husbands selfishness isn't taking him to worse situations. You have much to celebrate. Let go of your anger. Find compassion. Find love. Once you learn how to give it, you will see you will recieve more than enough in return.
I wish you much joy and peace in your life.
I hope this helps.



answers from Los Angeles on

Marriage is challenging and rewarding. It requires much work. I have a blended family, and the first couple of years were very difficult. My husband and I argued constantly over the kids, family, and a variety of other issues. He would go play ping-pong after work (he starts at 6am), or go run errands, or do something that required he not come home to deal with the kids or me. This happened for the first 2 to 3 years. I felt tired, upset, overextended, angry, and depressed. I wanted out! I was a single mom w/2 kids (boy 8 & girl 10) and he was a single-dad (girl 8)prior to marriage. We had a baby boy 1 1/2 years after our wedding. It was so chaotic. We did this for a few years.

In short, we knew we had to do something. So, we took a class called Dynamic Marriage. It teaches us how we need to understand and meet each other's needs. When it comes down to it, this is it. Here's the link: There's also a more intense class/seminar given for those that are desperate to save their marriage. The class helped us to open up in a very safe environment, be non-judgmental about our needs, and to open up lines of communication. Homework each week gave us a common task, and helped us to get going and work on our marriage. This was a great start. The creator, Joe Beam, of this program has helped save hundreds of marriages. My husband and I went to a marriage retreat, and he was the guest speaker. I really recommend this because it's practical, extremely helpful, and effective. It worked for us.

This is just the start. But, I am hoping that healing will start soon for all of you. Our marriage affects our children more than we can ever know. Perseverance and patience are needed, and I'm sure, as it seems, you've given as much as you physically can. Don't give up!




answers from Los Angeles on

Let me start by saying....the grass is not greener on the other side!! I hear everything youre saying...and Im sitting here thinking...those are not problems!! I have a drug and alcohol abuser for a husband who is currently working very hard to try to get his life and act straight. I have a 3yr. old son and besides us three....his dad (my father in law) was evicted last year..and guess who took over my sons room? Yup!! you guessed it. I have lost my privacy, I now cook and clean for another really sucks. so honey, youre not that bad off.
Its normal to feel overwhelmed with a 14month old. And the fact that you have this husband that doesnt seem to want to spend much time on you is worse.
why dont you try different solutions? I know youre probably saying to yourself I have tried it all...but hear me out.
Why dont you go straight to the source of the problem? Take your mother in law out to eat and talk to her about it. Tell her that you feel abandoned when he is over there all the time, and maybe you two can come up with a better solution. Like, maybe she can come over once a week and cook dinner at your place...that way you guys can all be together, your husband feels like he's got his mamma there, you dont feel left out...and personally....I think you would feel somewhat pampered to have someone cook dinner for your once in a while.
You have to keep your friends close and your enemies closer..right now the enemy is your mother in law because she is taking away "family" time from you guys. So maybe that can be a solution?
Im just trying to help. Hope it works.

Remember..."A family that prays together, stays together."



answers from Los Angeles on

Dear L.,
You sound very frustrated. With working and taking care of your daughter you must be worn out. I would recommend doing everything possible to save your marriage. Life is going to get harder if you divorce. Your husband would make decisions for your daughter that you would no longer have an input in. It sounds like you still love your husband, but need a new approach to your current situation.
First, I would try to convince your husband to let you stay at home. Being tight with finances is a whole lot better than losing out on being able to raise your daughter with YOUR values and she will gain from your added time together. Make up your mind that if you stayed home you WOULD visit the in-laws more. Learn to enjoy their company and enjoy watching your daughter bond with them. She needs them too. This might be hard to do but it is worth the effort.
Loving your husband and his family more may be impossible, but with God you could do it. If you have a relationship with God I would encourage you to ask him for the strength to make this relationship work. I have read a great book called "Created to be His Help Meet" by Debi Pearl. She points out some interesting things that help a woman be content even if her husband isn't the greatest. I liked it because there are things that I can think and do in spite of how my husband acts that result in a better marriage.
If you don't have a relationship with God I would strongly suggest you ask Him for one. He has great plans for you, your husband, your daughter, and your marriage. With God in your life peace comes and He is a great Counselor.
Let me know if you want to talk more and I will send you my email address. Best wishes. I will pray for you.
M. T.



answers from Los Angeles on

Dear L. C.,
I know it's difficult! BUT hang in there!!!
I have had similar problems in my almost 20 year marriage. EXCEPT that we actually lived with his divorced Mother for a few years. What a nightmare!
Anyway, The fact that he has actually admitted to some of the "Self-Absorbed" activities, is a very good sign. It means that he is actually seeing some of the things that you see.
I would suggest talking it out with a counselor or a church clergy (If you are an active member), before you actually take the untimate step.
One of the things that you need to remember is how much you loved order to marry him.
It stressful to be in a relationship, then have a child, and then on top of that his Mom gets sick.... SOO many stressors! When do you take any time for yourself??
Is there one activity that you are doing for yourself?
Do you want to keep this marriage going, for yourself?
Marriage is alot of work! Are you committed?
That may be part of why he is distant...You TOOK A BREAK once, are you going to TAKE A PERMANENT BREAK!!
He needs to know are stressed! You need some help! But you want this to work!!!
You need to WRITE IT DOWN for him.
He need to see it in print. See if you can get him to do the same (If he is an attorney he should be good with words.)
Take your time. Make yourself very clear. Think about what you might be giving up!
REMEMBER! You loved him for a you still love him? Why?
Make it clear that what you are looking for is some cooperation.
Its always going to be alot of hard work, but if you are willing...the pay-off will be wonderful!
Good Luck!!!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, L.,

My husband, too, spends a lot of time with his parents, who live 45 miles away. (He spent a lot of time there before we had kids, who are 20 months old and 5 months old.) I like my in-laws, but there have been times I wished that my husband didn't spend so much time there at the expense of other activities, such as working. (He is a self-employed musician.)

The fact that your husband voluntarily participates in counseling is promising. (He may need another approach to counseling, though, if he has done it for years and not much has improved. Is he willing to participate in marriage counseling with you for at least a few sessions? Are you willing to do so?) My husband is definitely not interested in participating in marriage counseling, talking to me about problems, such as rarely wanting to have sex with me, or reading any relationship books. His attitude is, "If you are depressed, fix your self, get counseling, etc., and then come see me."

If you are up to reading a book on relationships, I recommend you read John Gottman's book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, which was recommended to me by my sister, a psychologist.

Be kind to yourself. Try to reserve at least 15 minutes at work to eat lunch. Lighten your domestic workload in little ways. For instance, if you are bathing your baby every evening, switch to bathing every other evening. (Many doctors recommend NOT bathing babies every day as daily bathing is very drying and letting them skip a day, assuming you are changing them regularly, will not make them dirty.) Get acupuncture or massage as often as your income permits, if you are not doing so already.

Good luck,
L. E



answers from Los Angeles on

HI L.,

My husband and I had a lot of problems after our first child was born. Honestly, they sound a lot like your problems. When I became pregnant with our second child I was so frightned. I really didn't want a divorce, but I felt our life was leading in that direction. I too really wanted to stay home with our kids, and one day I announced that that was just what I was going to do and that was that. And you know what, switching from working full time to not working at all and being a full time housewife and mother made a huge difference. I can honestly say that my husband and I are happily married, and all the problems we had a few years ago are gone.

The thing is, if you stop working your husband will be forced to grow up. He'll be forced to work, make money and be a provider for his family. It will be really good for him. Once you're at home full time you will probably like going over to your in-laws frequently just to get out of the house and visit. You'll stop resenting the time spent with them. You'll also stop resenting your husband for not helping out as much as you need him to. As for the money, believe me it's possible to live on one income. Yes, you will need to cut back. No, your husband will not like it. Yes, it is worth it, really really worth it. Not only will your relationship with your husband improve, you will be doing the most important job there is -raising the next generation. So take your little one out of daycare and quit your job!

If you need any more information or advice on transitioning into becoming astay-at-home-mom please send me a message!


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