Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Don’t Think He Wants a Relationship Anymore”

Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter is answered by columnist and blogger, Billie Criswell.

I have been with my husband for four years and we got married in August 2011. We have a 2-year-old together. Lately, I’ve been feeling like our relationship isn’t what it used to be. I don’t feel the love I used to feel from him. For example, he’s a very flirtatious person and likes the attention from other women. I don’t think he has cheated on me but I feel like he doesn’t want this relationship anymore. He has told me that he still loves me and that if he wanted to leave he would have but his actions say something different.

On many occasions I have found evidence — texts and emails — of him flirting with other women but he denies everything when I confront him. When I do see these things it makes wonder if maybe one day he will cheat on me which really scares me. He says I’m too jealous but I don’t think so. I only get jealous when I see things like this. He is also very secretive. He hides a lot of things that he thinks I don’t know about. He constantly changes passwords and never leaves his phone, which he has locked with password, lying around.

Am I being too jealous or overreacting? Do I even have reasons to not trust him? I’m just so confused. — Suspicious Mind

Are you overreacting? Maybe. Is he cheating? I don’t know… but what I do know is that his behavior and responsiveness to your attempts at opening the conversational door are less than desirable. Communication is key in any relationship, and you are right to want to discuss it.

This suspicion is a big problem. Whether or not he has cheated is really irrelevant because you are feeling suspicious over his secretive nature, and he is doing nothing to remedy your feelings. Keep in mind, though, that there are two sides to every story.

Some people tend to act strangely after they get married… I know my husband and I were a little daunted after we got married. It felt odd, even after many years together pre-marriage. I went through a stage of post-marriage blues, even thinking I didn’t want children and my husband was left wondering why we even married at all. Maybe the two of you are in a weird post-marriage phase; especially if this behavior is new.

Because there is a child involved, you have a greater obligation to try and get to the bottom of your feelings and his behavior. The first thing you need to do is to set aside some time to talk together alone, without your child present. Ask him to ease your mind… confess that you feel he’s secretive and that your expressions to him are often met with indifference. (In therapy, they call this “stonewalling.”) And your suspicion, in all honesty, SHOULD alarm your husband and his indifference is pretty bothersome.

You need to have a serious talk about the state of your relationship and the trust issues that are now existing between you. I am a huge believer in couples therapy, and you two could really benefit from it. Relationships can be difficult, and to be able to maintain a meaningful, mutual relationship over a long period of time, therapy is a great tool.

If he doesn’t want to go with you, you should strongly consider going on your own. Because whether or not he is cheating, you are suspicious, and without trust in one another, it will be more difficult to model a healthy relationship for your child.

* Billie Criswell is a columnist and blogger from the “Delaware Seashore.” She loves zumba, bloody marys, and cooking. You can follow her shenanigans at Bossyitalianwife.com.

46 comments… add one
  • artsygirl October 24, 2011, 3:11 pm

    LW – while your husband’s secretive behavior is a warning flag, the bigger one is his dismissal of your concerns. It is worrying that he refuses to acknowledge your feelings and instead denies his actions even though you have seen evidence of his flirting. I hate to pull the counselor card, but this is probably a case for getting a professional third party to help you through your problems. You could see if there is a religious figure, a marriage counselor or even a couples communication class which can help you work through your suspicions and his flirting.

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  • Painted_lady October 24, 2011, 3:14 pm

    To paraphrase Dan Savage, if you’re getting mixed messages, I would go with the less desirable option. People rarely pretend to be assholes to save face, but they often feign that they’re nicer than they are.

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    • caitie_didn't October 24, 2011, 4:02 pm

      Occam’s razor, but for dating!

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  • L October 24, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Well written advice! I definitely agree with that therapy would likely help this situation.

    LW, I want to reiterate the importance of maintaining your relationship for your child. Though my parents are still married and have never separated, my boyfriend’s parents divorced and he has told me about what it was like to have aggression issues when he was in elementary school. He blamed himself for their split and became depressed while having some severe anger management issues as an 8-year-old. He still has a short temper sometimes, though it is apparently much more subdued than what it was when he was younger.

    Obviously, if you try therapy and try to have more open conversations and things don’t get better, then separation might be the best option. However, for the benefit of your child, please do everything you can to try to maintain your relationship with your husband. Good luck!

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    • caitie_didn't October 24, 2011, 4:04 pm

      I would completely disagree! I think it’s better for a kid to grow up in a happy, functional, single-parent household than in a two-parent household with suspicion and anger brewing everywhere. Maybe your boyfriend’s experience was due to how his parents communicated with him about their divorce.

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      • honeybeenicki October 24, 2011, 4:25 pm

        I agree with you. I think it is important to try to work it out, but living in a bitter, hostile environment is not healthy for anyone involved. I am very happy that my parents got divorced because I know the toll their fighting would have taken on me and would have probably negatively impacted the way I grew up. Often when there are major issues like that (anger in the children, etc), it is more a problem of how it is handled than the divorce itself. When my husband and his ex-wife split up they made sure they sat down with the kids and explained it in age-appropriate ways. There were some slight issues at first with anger, aggression and grades slipping but it was very quickly dealt with and only lasted for about a month or two during the adjustment period.

        Now both kids know that it wasn’t their fault, know that sometimes mommy and daddy just can’t be together anymore and they have not 2, but 4 parents who love them very much. I think we (me and my husband, his ex-wife and her new husband) are showing them what truly loving, happy relationships are instead of letting them be raised in an angry, uncomfortable home that is “intact.”

      • BriarRose October 24, 2011, 4:26 pm

        As a child of still married parents, but the parent to a child of divorce, I will have to respectfully disagree that staying married is always the best course of action for the child. My ex-husband and I stuck it out for a year or two for our daughter’s sake, but really, we are all so much happier now. My parents, while still married, never struck me as particularly happy, all that good at communication, or pleased with their lives. I don’t know if them being married was any big benefit to me as a child. If anything, watching them always sweep their problems under the rug and not communicate with each other taught me some very incorrect things about relationships.

        I’m not going to say that divorce isn’t horrible and hard and sad and devastating for a child. But with a crapload patience from myself and my-exhusband, a lot of positive reinforcement to my daughter that we both loved her, valued her, valued each other as co-parents, etc, and even a few counseling sessions for her when she started to have anger management issues, and she has grown into a happy, well-adjusted little girl. I couldn’t imagine how unpleasant it would have been for her to grow up in a house where her father and I were still married. While there was no abuse or horrible issues, she would have quickly realized that her father did not love her mother, and that her mother was miserably unhappy but not making an effort to regain her happiness, and what lesson would that be for her to learn? I wanted (and got) a better life for my daughter than that.

      • honeybeenicki October 24, 2011, 4:41 pm

        I’m glad you realize that the things you learned about relationships were wrong. That was a big concern for my mom before she got divorced and was also a concern for my husband before his divorce. Yeah, I went through the wanting my mom and dad to be together (got over it quicker than most I think) and even pitting my parents against each other (or trying). For instance, once when I was about 5 or 6, my mom wouldn’t let me do something and I told her that I hated her and I wanted to go live with my dad. She put a suitcase on my bed and told me to go ahead and I never said that again. But overall, I was able to learn that sometimes co-parenting while separate is much better than living in the same house together with someone you hate just to “stay for the kids.” I watched my dad stay with his 2nd wife “for the kids” and it didn’t turn out well and my 3 siblings still have problems dealing with relationships.

      • L October 24, 2011, 6:13 pm

        I’m very glad to hear that both you and your ex husband supported your daughter through your divorce, BriarRose. What I get really frustrated about is when the divorces are messy (like the one my boyfriend’s parents went through) and either one or both parents don’t make an effort to help the child to adjust.

    • Tracey October 24, 2011, 4:21 pm

      If he refuses to go to therapy, or goes once or twice then declares he doesn’t need to go anymore because it won’t help, is not worth it, etc., then you need to get yourself to a good lawyer and prepare an exit strategy. Don’t ignore your gut feeling, LW. If you think something is wrong, it probably is.

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    • Tudor Princess October 24, 2011, 4:27 pm

      I’m with caitie. Staying together is not always the best option. Especially if the parents fight, pit one another against each other, or put the child in the middle. My parents divorced when I was 3 and I am so very happy my mother left my father. My step-father is everything my real father never was.

      I’m actually much more upset at your advice than I am letting on. I think it’s shamefully, and willfully ignorant to suggest that someone stay with a person with whom they no longer love and/or trust. Is that child supposed to grow up thinking that that kind of marriage is normal? So, instead of seeing a happy single mother/father, they should grow up learning resentment, unhappiness, and an unfulfilled marriage? Because I can assure you that that is more likely the case then the situation you’re describing. I also think your boyfriend, and you, are using his parents divorce as an excuse for some of his behavior. You’re applying black and white where it doesn’t belong.

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      • lk October 24, 2011, 4:49 pm

        “I also think your boyfriend, and you, are using his parents divorce as an excuse for some of his behavior.”

        I agree & I just want to mention that the 2 best marriages I know both involve one person whose parents were divorced.

      • L October 24, 2011, 6:06 pm

        Tudor, I’m sorry I struck such a nerve in you; I was simply stating that divorces can severely affect children and the child’s best interests need to be considered as well, whatever that means in this particular situation.

        I can tell I am obviously the minority on here in thinking that it is important to try their best to make things work for their child’s sake. I should clarify something: I understand that there will in fact be cases where separation and/or divorce are the best option. I’m glad in your case, Tudor, that your mother left your father because it sounds like it was the best option for both you and your mom. It resulted in a better life for you, which is awesome. My intention was not for the LW to just hunker down and deal with an unhappy marriage and I definitely didn’t mean to imply that divorce ISN’T an option for the LW. Yet, in this case I don’t think the LW or her husband should throw in the towel just yet — they’ve only been married for two months! Of course, it might be the case where this has been an issue for a long time and it has just gotten worse since they got married. Who knows? I’m suggesting that the LW find some answers, whether through therapy or just talking to her husband or whatever her options are and go from there with hers, her husband’s, and her child’s best interests in mind. I don’t think the LW should give up on this relationship just yet, but if things haven’t gotten better in a few months after trying therapy and other things, then I think she should consider separation and/or divorce.

        On my end I’m really offended that you even suggest that my boyfriend and I use his parents’ divorce as an excuse for his behavior. That is as FAR from the truth as you can get. In our case, the fact that he opened up to me very early in our relationship about how he feels/felt about his parents’ divorce helps me to understand his positions on things as well as what has shaped him into the man he is today. I don’t know what it’s like to experience a messy divorce firsthand, but since he has been open with me I feel as though I understand it a bit better. Obviously I still don’t know exactly how it feels, but I have a better idea. I understand where he comes from. However, if he has a short temper and it bothers me, I let him know. If he is acting like a jerk, I let him know. If he is treating me any less than I deserve, I let him know. I don’t tell myself: “Oh, that’s just the anger management issues from his parents’ divorce talking. I’ll let it go.” Absolutely not. I have more respect for myself than that.

        With that, I believe we will have to just agree to disagree. As I re-read my original post, I see how some of these things could have been unclear. I hope this clarified some things.

      • Shadowflash1522 October 25, 2011, 1:46 pm

        Point of curiosity: What, exactly, do you mean by “work things out”? Do you mean just getting by without wanting to kill each other or themselves, or do you mean a return to a state of blissful happiness?

        This confuses me, as the “stay together for the kids” crowd often uses it and lots of people object but I don’t think everyone is on the same page. I usually take it to mean that everyone is reasonably content (i.e. doesn’t wake up every morning miserable), but that’s what I’m used to: if I don’t start the day miserable and stressed, life is good. On the other hand, some people take it to mean “take two people who’ve fallen out of love and make them fall in love again” which is a tall order to say the least. Others still take it as “stay in the relationship even though it makes you miserable and lonely because it provides you with family, financial stability, and a role model for your kids”.

      • L October 25, 2011, 10:24 pm

        What I mean by “work things out” is simply to try to figure out what is going on in their relationship as a couple. There has to be some underlying issue that is causing this, and therapy would likely help them discover what exactly is wrong. Maybe the LW’s husband is depressed. Maybe he is stressed at work and as a result is pulling back from his family. Maybe he is just a jerk and is actually cheating on her. No one knows. But once those issues are brought to the table, they can decide what they can do to fix it or if they need to move on from the relationship for the good of themselves and their child.

        (Disclaimer: I’m not trying to judge or place blame or say that divorce and/or separation is the worst decision in the entire world. I do in fact understand there are situations where it is necessary.) I’m a strong believer in marriage for the long term. Even though I understand there are situations where divorce is the only option, I think there are also many people who give up on marriage too soon. I mean, half all marriages end in divorce these days. That statistic is staggering to me. Since this particular LW has only been married for 2 MONTHS, I think it’s WAY too early to be calling it quits. If in a few months things are still not going well after making more attempts at figuring out what is going on in her relationship, then separation and/or divorce should be considered.

      • Shadowflash1522 October 26, 2011, 4:30 pm

        Ah, so you mean something more along the lines of “open the box of your Schrodinger’s relationship and really look to see if it can be salvaged”. In other words, resolve the feelings of resentment, jealousy, etc. and see what the best option is even if it includes divorce.

        Thank you for clearing that up for me! I feel like some people use the phrase “work things out” in a way that precludes any kind of separation or as code for if you get a divorce you didn’t try hard enough to “work things out”. I agree, people tend to give up on marriage too easily, but there’s no shame in admitting when something is broken beyond repair.

      • L October 26, 2011, 7:27 pm

        Oh yes, I definitely agree that there are some extremists who believe that divorce is absolutely the worst possible outcome for EVERY situation. That is ludicrous. There will be times when a marriage isn’t working and separation is the only option. In this particular situation — with a child especially — the LW really needs to find the underlying problem in her relationship with her husband. Something is going on. It’s time for her to take some action to figure out what exactly it is.

    • Shadowflash1522 October 25, 2011, 1:33 pm

      I’m with the other strong (but respectful) disagree-ers. My particular addition to the discussion is that my cousins (age 16 and 18) were in the middle of it for years with an alcoholic father and a mother who has MS. They have been at each other’s throats for years and neither of them is above using their kids as weapons. The sooner they are out of that household, the better. Thank god the older one is off to college in another state!

      I don’t think there’s such a thing as “we have to stay together for the children’s sake”. That’s like saying you can never let your kids see you cry, or get angry, or show any human emotion. It only presents a warped view of marriage and family as at best a chore and at worst a form of torture. It also suggests to your kids that you can deal with problems by just pretending they don’t exist and that appearances are more important. I don’t know why your boyfriend blamed himself (and I am so sorry he did, for his sake) but I suspect that one or the other of his parents planted the idea, intentionally or otherwise (i.e. in the process of fighting about custody they used him as a weapon). It’s not the divorce itself that encourages that mindset, but the way in which it plays out.

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    • Caris October 31, 2011, 11:13 am

      Definitely not better for the parents to say married if they are not happy with each other. My parents used to fight all the time, and I was more than happy when they finally decided to get divorced.

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  • FireStar October 24, 2011, 3:20 pm

    What the —? Something sounds off. When you bring a concern to your spouse the last thing it should be is dismissed. Even if he is telling the absolute truth – going the extra mile to make sure your spouse is comfortable and happy in your relationship is your JOB as a spouse. You say you found evidence of flirting and he denied it. I’m not sure how that goes exactly but next time be explicit. “I consider THIS flirting and not appropriate and it makes me feel ____.” If his behaviour continues then you seriously need some professional counselling to address why he is not engaged in your relationship anymore and is dismissing your feelings. No one should feel like they are waiting for the other shoe to fall and for their spouse step out on them.

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    • 6napkinburger October 24, 2011, 4:12 pm

      I agree! You said “Honey, I found the emails between you and titsRus@aol.com. What is going on?” and he says… ? “No you didn’t” ? “It’s just a joke” ? “That’s not flirting”? If you found flirty emails with strangers, I’m not really sure how he can deny them.

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      • Budj October 24, 2011, 4:14 pm

        titsRus@aol.com sounds like one of those junk e-mails I used to get on my hotmail account asking me to check out this girl getting banged by a horse or dog or something weird like that.

      • 6napkinburger October 24, 2011, 4:36 pm

        Did you respond? The LW indicates that the emails were two ways. I’m just trying to figure out what kind of idiot the LW’s husband thinks the LW is for him to deny flirting with other women when she has proof. Deny cheating, sure, but he can’t really deny the flirting. and the flirting is itself a problem.

  • Meaghan October 24, 2011, 3:31 pm

    I love how you didn’t go the route of ‘stay married because it’s better for your child’. As a person who suffered through parents who were constantly bitter towards each other until finally exploding in a divorce I can say without a doubt that the biggest mistake you can make in a marriage is staying in just for the sake of your kids. Kids are incredibly perceptive and absorb the world around them a lot more than we give them credit for, and in my case it took years for me to escape that idea that all relationships are filled with that spitefulness. The worst was when my mother said she’d kept the marriage going so we could have a ‘family’ (though I later found out that wasn’t the case) I was filled with guilt that I was the reason we (my sisters and I though I figured they were too young to be to blame so it had to be me) that we had been put through such hell for so long.

    That said I went through a similar feeling when I got married. Even though it was a civil ceremony afterwards I’d look over at my husband and think ‘seriously? I’m married? I just did a lifelong decision?’ I think the biggest part for me was how easy it was and how I expected a big change in how I felt about how serious our relationship had become. Maybe that will happen after our ‘official’ ceremony next year, but I doubt it.

    Sorry went on a tangent. In the end I think he’s being super shady, and you need to confront this head on with your child out of the picture. Chances are something is going on and if it keeps going that train is going to fly off the tracks and you’ll get hurt bad.

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  • Budjer October 24, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Making you have self-doubt about glaringly obvious sketchy behavior is the oldest play in the cheater’s handbook.

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    • FireStar October 24, 2011, 3:27 pm

      So true. All that is missing is the part where he calls her crazy.

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    • ReginaRey October 24, 2011, 3:51 pm

      Exactly what I was going to say. Turning the tables on YOU is how someone who is hiding something deflects attention from themselves.

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    • thyme October 24, 2011, 5:05 pm

      True, but it is also very often that jealous controlling people see “glaringly obvious sketchy behavior” in everything.

      I was in a relationship with a man who was convinced that I was cheating on him. He saw definitive evidence everywhere. Like when I went out with the girls and he was sure that we were going out to hook up with men, because why else would girls go to a bar together? Like when my ex from years ago called me to say happy birthday, like he does every year, it must mean I still want him. Like when I called my mom as I was walking out the door, he just knew I was really calling a man, because why else would I wait until I was leaving to call? Like when he snooped through my phone and called all the “suspicious” un-named numbers in my call log ( which were things like the cable company and the hotel I stayed at on a business trip). And don’t even get me started on this alleged business trip and all the men I invented it to screw around with.

      I wasn’t cheating on him. No part of me had any desire to cheat on him. I used to think that I didn’t have to worry about what things “look like” as long as I’m not actually DOING anything wrong. Not so when you’re with someone who is jealous and insecure. It makes you crazy second-guessing every move you make because of the way it might look to him/her.

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      • sarita_f October 24, 2011, 7:17 pm

        thyme – my dad puts my mom through this crap all the time. He’s mellowing out with age, but it’s pretty hard to just chalk it up to crazy jealousy/controlling issues. If it’s not a sign of cheating (on the part of the accuser) then in my book it’s a red flag toward abuse. And yes, I consider my father verbally abusive, as well as borderline crazy in some way that I’m not qualified to diagnose.

        By your phrasing here it sounds like you’re out of this relationship, thank goodness.

        And for everyone else out there, if you experience the kind of issues thyme did, do yourself and your future children a favor and END IT. I SOSOSOSO do not want to end up repeating the situation with my father, but as such I’m never fully open to falling for someone without being continuously on the lookout for red flags. I’m working on it, but it’s not fun.

    • Callifax October 24, 2011, 7:54 pm

      Exactly! Also, the fact that he never leaves his cell phone unattended:
      I get passwords, I get not wanting your privacy invaded, but in my experience (two cheating boyfriends), the minute that they refuse to let their cell out of their sight, something is amiss.

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  • Dutchgerm October 24, 2011, 4:18 pm

    I just went through my own personal hell with my now ex. Started out as simple I’m online working till way after I went to bed. She did have an online business. She also was a huge flirt and constantly sought mens attention. Then after 4 yers I went on a sight she goes to and low and behold the dirtiest, nastiest things were being said in this “chat room” with both men and women.”

    She claimed I was jealous, possessive, never gave her privacy, she was just kidding, all the typical stuff. I’m telling you this is already way deeper then the LW thinks or well on its way. His behavior didn’t change overnight. He’s been doing it a while. Look at the stats for online antics divorce rate. It’s revitalized the entire marriage counseling industry. If I was her I would do some serious digging. But I think she already knows what she will find.

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  • lizbeth October 24, 2011, 4:38 pm

    wow! thanks everyone! i gathered the balls and talked to him about his flirting and about him being all sneaky and how it makes me feel. i feel a lot better about everything. he has assured me that he loves me alot and he wants to be with me and am taking his word for it. in the end i know that i did everything i could right and that i believe i am a great wife. i agree with Billie maybe it is the being recently married everything started to happen after we got married. never thought about that. even though i still get that occassional feeling of maybe theres someone else or maybe hes bored of me. i have no issues of telling him how i feel about it anymore. i trully appreciate everyones input.

    i think that a major part of him not communicating with me is due to a rough childhood and having no male figure present in his life. even though its not an excuse i think he never grew out of it. sometimes he just puts a wall up and his hard to read. which i have learned how to manage and how to deal with. as far as the flirting he knows that it bothers me and he knows whats acceptable and whats not. am glad that we are both on the same page now cuz it was driving me crazy and making me feel so insecure!

    i hope that we do have a long lasting and happy relationship.

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    • artsygirl October 24, 2011, 5:01 pm

      Best of luck lizbeth – it sounds like he will willing to open up communication and take your feelings into account.

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    • SGMcG October 24, 2011, 5:26 pm

      Your husband sounds a lot like my husband in the first year of our marriage. Some guys seem to have this intuitive sense of how to foster a relationship and properly parent a child they’ve fathered. My husband will grudgingly admit that he may not be one of those people, only because his relationship with ME is the first long-lasting one that he wants to invest in and he really doesn’t have a good role model when it comes to communication issues. I imagine the new status of your relationship, coupled with newly thrust fatherhood, makes for a lot of silence on his part – in that he would rather not talk if it means that a fight is avoided.

      As cheesy as it sounds, sometimes voicing daily affirmations on your status as a couple helps inject some positivity in your marriage and helps lessen any potential insecurities either of you may be feeling. For example, my husband thanked me all this week for showing strength that he was so sick to the point that he had to go to the emergency room, while I countered that I took it as the opportunity to cherish and take care of him like he has for me. By communiticating what we liked about each other that day, it is easier to voice and listen to our displeasures as well and respectfully consider the other’s opinion, rather than having it dismissed. It’s more important than ever to remind each other of the strength of the unit you two formed, especially now that your team has grown.

      I think as long as you both keep communicating, in good times and bad, you’ll find that the long-lasting, happy relationship you want will just be there.

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      • Addie Pray October 24, 2011, 6:52 pm

        You said “daily affirmation” which of course reminded me of lil’ Jessica’s daily affirmation – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR3rK0kZFkg – and, well, it wouldn’t be like me to not go a little off subject now would it… So, enjoy!

      • lizbeth October 24, 2011, 7:57 pm

        i agree that communication is a major key to a successfull relationship. even though there are times where i hesitate to let him now about issues that i have i feel so much better after i let him know. if i hold it in it just makes me feel miserable and he notices when something is wrong.

        my husband has trouble with the father role as well. like i mentioned before he never had that male role model. and his mother wasnt very affecionate to him. in part i know he has trouble doing so because he never had anyone to talk to about his feelings with. i always show my affection towards him, i spoil him lol. especially right now. am his nurse because he just got all four of his wisdom teeth removed. so hes in pain so hes a little baby right now lol. i kinda enjoy it thought because am needed.

      • SGMcG October 25, 2011, 9:00 am

        As commendable as it is that your husband notices when something is wrong, it’s not his job to be his mindreader. Just as he has a responsibility to respectfully listen to your concerns, you also have a responsibility to tell him what’s wrong. Talking to each other, whether it’s about good stuff or bad, is the only way to break a cycle of internal disappointments and lack of communication.

      • Skyblossom October 25, 2011, 10:20 am

        Another thing to do, if you aren’t, is to be the flirt in your husband’s life. A lot of couples stop flirting at some point and stop being as affectionate and hit a point where their relationship is on idle. I’ve found that one of the best things you can do for your marriage, day in and day out, is to be affectionate and flirtatious. Stop and hug him when you pass by him in the house and even run your hand down his back and up his leg, etc. Tell him when he looks hot in what he’s wearing and why, “Those jeans are so hot on you because…” Compliment him when he does well and that doesn’t mean just when he did something trying to please you. Thank him for the mundane things he does everyday that you are able to take for granted. We often treat total strangers with more courtesy than we treat our spouse. Passion can be maintained by it takes daily effort to keep it in your marriage.

        The other thing is that you have a toddler and that makes for a difficult point in any marriage. Before a baby you often walk around holding hands and talking about your hopes and dreams and sharing everything about your jobs. Once you have a baby you walk around with your hands full of baby, or baby carrier and of course, the diaper bag and often a stroller. You don’t have a free hand to give to your spouse and that creates distance. Your conversation is now dominated by the child as in, don’t touch that stuff on the shelf, and by trying to keep the shopping cart out of child reach of everything without blocking the entire aisle. If you’re shopping for clothes you try to keep your toddler from gumming every sleeve hanging within their reach, etc. You know what I mean. Keeping the toddler out of trouble is time consuming so it disrupts any normal conversation you would have with your spouse so your conversation is all choppy at best. So this is a natural low point to any marriage but your toddler will get a bit older and become easier and at that point you need to try to hold hands again out in public and carry out more uninterrupted conversations. Try to keep the two of you (you husband and yourself) at the center of the marriage as a strong foundation for all three of you.

    • Chaotonic October 24, 2011, 6:55 pm

      Good job on pushing the communication, Lizbeth!!!

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    • Pinky October 24, 2011, 10:54 pm

      Lizbeth, I’m glad you spoke with him. You still need to drag his ass to therapy. Your trust has been rattled. Without trust, there’s nothing.

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  • the other guy October 24, 2011, 9:53 pm

    I can’t believe some posters here are recommending you look at divorce. Married 4 years with a young child, gee can’t see any pressure here? But guess what I have never heard of a marriage that didn’t have rough patches. Too many people are too quick to give up and end up spending the life moving from one failed relationship to another.

    Your statement ‘I don’t feel the love I used to feel from him.’ and then you go on to say. ‘For example, he’s a very flirtatious person and likes the attention from other women.’ He might not be able to put his finger on it but I bet he can feel the ‘don’t feel the love’ vibe you would be giving off. Ever considered your relationship problems might stem from your attitude?

    My suggestion is you put in some effort, might even surprise yourself that you get the ‘lovin feeling’ back again. From what you have written I can’t see this relationship as anywhere near breaking down.

    If you want a strong marriage my recommendation is to start a weekly ‘steak and BJ’ night. Then again that is my suggestion for almost all relationship issues. :0

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    • Pinky October 24, 2011, 10:52 pm

      “I have been with my husband for four years and we got married in August 2011.”

      Married 3 months.

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    • H October 25, 2011, 10:26 am

      While I totally agree that the LW should work on the marriage and that showing the husband some love (yes, steak & bjs would probably be a great way) is important… she can’t easily dismiss his “suspicious” behavior. Secretive texts of a flirtatious manner are unacceptable in a monogamous relationship. She needs to get to the bottom of that first.
      And then they BOTH need to work on showing love and appreciation for each other.
      If he refuses to take part in the healing/fixing of this relationship than eventually, it may be time to move on.
      But, I agree… some real effort is in order.

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  • KarenWalker October 24, 2011, 10:09 pm

    Whether I’m in a relationship (faithfully) or not, I never leave my phone, which is password protected, unattended so I really don’t think that’s indicative of anything. I also will frequently change passwords – that’s a good, smart habit to get into. So again, to me, that doesn’t indicate suspicious behavior.

    It’s unclear if your husband has always been flirtacious or if this is a new behavior. If he’s always been on the flirty side, it may be difficult for him to change that and he may not have been aware that it bothered you. If it’s a new behavior, then, yeah, that’s pretty freakin suspicious.

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  • Flake October 25, 2011, 10:13 am

    I am very sorry to hear about your problem. I am all for trying hard to fix a relationship, with or without kids. There are a couple of things I would like to mention.

    Firstly, do not apologize for your feelings. They are YOUR feelings. You are not overreacting (personally I think that word is overused: just because you react in a way that your SO doesn’t agree with, doesn’t mean that you over-react). Feelings are not wrong or right. They are a way you react to your environment. If you could stop feeling suspicious, frustrated and confused on a whim, I am sure you would.

    Secondly, in my opinion, when you share those feelings with your husband, a reasonable reaction for him would be to tell you that there is nothing to worry about, and maybe become a bit more transparent in order to prove that there is nothing shady going on. He is doing the opposite. He is feeding your insecurities with his dismissive and secretive behavior. That is a red flag. While he doesn’t have to agree with you, a person you love should never dismiss your feelings.

    Thirdly, most likely, your kid will be fine. Ideally, a family should stay together, but not at any cost. It is very important for both partners to feel happy and valued in order to project that onto a child. There are also ways to be excellent parents without necessarily being married. I also agree that you should give a couples therapy a try.

    So, to answer your questions, I think that unfortunately you do have a reason to be suspicious and no, you are definitely not overreacting.

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    • 6napkinburger October 26, 2011, 4:35 pm

      Feelings are facts!

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