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Apathetic Husband

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  • #874968 Reply

    I had an epiphany the other day after going to a counseling session. My husband clearly lacks empathy. It describes all of his behaviors that I have noticed in the 10 years I have known him such as:

    *his selfishness, why he always prioritized himself
    * he is never willing to help others unless it is convenient for him
    * he has engaged in inappropriate behaviors with other women and is usually just defensive about it, I end up being the problem
    *he doesn’t care about forming relationships with people that don’t entertain or excite him, such as my parents or grandparents. People who he finds dull
    * why he is always defensive, stubborn in his view.
    * why he Is annoyed when I am sensitive or hurt.
    *Why he doesn’t want kids.
    * Why he stonewalls whenever I try and solve problems.

    Also he is in law-enforcement, and he is very good at his job. He is able to remove himself from the emotions that he sees every day.

    I feel that his inability to have empathy never developed because of his childhood …because his dad never ever talked with him about anything other than himself, or spewed facts at him. He never had conversations “with him” , and his mom buries anything that is emotionally challenging or not happy…she is very fake and avoids people when they are not “happy”. they always held them to a high standard… so I’m sure with his weight issues and other typical kid issues growing up, they were never emotionally there for him and he never learned how to develop empathy.

    So, because I do have a lot of empathy, I can understand a bit of what is going on with him and I want to be able to help him learn to develop empathy. I don’t want to leave him, he has a lot of other wonderful qualities but this sums up a lot of my frustrations. Does anyone have any advice on how I can continue to help him learn how to develop empathy. He is going to start going to counseling but I know that takes a long time. How can I stay sane in the process, how can I be a supportive wife?

    #874971 Reply

    Wow. You can’t make him change. He has to want to change. I don’t think it really sounds like he thinks he’s doing anything wrong. I don’t think he cares that much about changing his core beliefs and values. Because I honestly believe empathy is not something you can teach an adult man who is so selfish as the man you described here.

    I think he’s doing a good combination of blaming his parents and upbringing and gaslighting you for his own terrible behavior. Whether he actually lacks empathy or not doesn’t mean he can’t show respect to you, your marriage, your family.

    I think you’re just feeding his selfishness when your big ask at the end is how you can be a supportive wife while he…ignores or is rude to you and your family? Has relationships with other women? Gets annoyed at your feelings? I mean, he’s successfully convinced you that his inappropriate behavior with other women is your problem.

    I really hope you stay in counseling. Is this what you imagined your marriage to look like? Is this really the guy you want to tie yourself to forever? Because he comes off really poorly in this text.

    #874972 Reply

    Is this something he wants to change about himself? Totally, fully, 100% committed to changing? Or is it something you want to change in him?

    If it’s the latter, you’re not going to be successful.

    #874974 Reply

    Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. You want to package his fundamentally poor qualities as a spouse in a pretty bow called “lack of empathy” which you can fix by nurturing him and teaching him.

    You’ve explained this very nicely to yourself and made a lot of excuses for why he’s selfish, unkind, uninterested in your needs and wants, dismissive of your feelings, a cheater, and doesn’t want kids. Oh, and won’t discuss any problems or work on addressing them. You just need to know how YOU can fix all that.

    You can’t. He would have to acknowledge the problems in your marriage caused by his behavior and want to do better. He’d have to give a shit. Agree to go to therapy. Commit to improving himself and making you happier. You can’t do the work for him. You need to have a come to Jesus talk where you tell him you’re at the end of your rope and need him to work with you. If he won’t, you leave and find a nice guy who cares about you and wants what you want.

    #874975 Reply

    You’re doing a lot of mental legwork here to explain why your husband treats you like shit and is an asshole. A lot of times the simplest answer is the correct one. You don’t need to explain away of his issues and put them on his parents, the same way he can’t explain his infidelity as your fault.

    Your husband is an asshole, and has been for a long time. You should be in counseling asking yourself why you put up with it. Why do you put up with an asshole of a husband? Why do you think you deserve that? Why do you think it’s your job to “fix” him? Why you’re doing more mental legwork than he is to fix himself?

    He doesn’t need a supportive wife, you’ve been that for 10 years, he needs a divorce and a wake up call to want to fix himself. That means you won’t get him when he’s all fixed up but hopefully you’ll have gone to therapy and found yourself a man whose not an asshole.

    #874977 Reply

    So, here you are, with your husband with all these problems about being unable to relate to others and push his problems onto them …

    … and you’re here asking how YOU can help fix this.

    Don’t you see, you’re just continuing the cycle? If he’s going to get better, HE needs to get better. This isn’t something you can fix for him.

    #874979 Reply
    avatarMiss MJ

    I have no idea if your husband lacks empathy or not. But I do know he’s an asshole. I also know that a therapist isn’t going to be able to teach your husband empathy. A therapist can, in theory, help your husband recognize that certain behaviors are destructive and help him change those behaviors, but only if he really wants to change them. Here’s the thing, though: he doesn’t. He wants to continue to live selfishly, cheat on you, disregard your feelings and gaslight you and have you blame it on his childhood or whatever while you still take care of him.

    You know how I know that? Because he knows those things hurt you – lacking empathy doesn’t mean he doesn’t know that cheating and lying hurts you – he’s not stupid. He knows, but – and here’s the part no therapist can fix – he literally doesn’t care. And you know how I know that? Because I bet he doesn’t go to work and to his friends and treat his boss and friends like crap. He knows how to treat people whose respect and like he needs or desires. He’s not interested in doing that with you. If he were, he would. And nothing and no one can make someone who knows they’re hurting you but doesn’t care actually, well, care.

    Be thankful you don’t have children, file for divorce and go see a therapist to unfuck yo your head from living with this for so long.

    #874983 Reply

    Your husband is an asshole. I am sure some of the excuses you have come up with are right, but that is not an free pass to not try and be better.

    #874985 Reply

    100% agree with Miss MJ, get thee to a therapist stat to “unfuck your head”. This is triage solution so I would focus on helping yourself first. What you are describing with your husband/his family is multiple generations of coldness and suppressing feelings. If you can’t express feelings you cannot understand or care about others feelings. Empathy is not something you learn like French or Handstands, you have it or you don’t. Focus on yourself and getting an independent perspective from a therapist. It will confirm something you already know: its too late to “learn empathy” and you need to figure out what you want to do with your life (dont worry about him b/c he doesnt worry about you).

    #874987 Reply

    Why spend the time and energy trying to “support” this guy? WHY? Especially when it likely won’t change anything? If you want kids, divorce him and find someone who doesn’t need “support” to be a decent person.

    Your whole post was all about him. What about you? What do YOU want out of life? Read Codependent No More at least.

    #874995 Reply

    Your post should be entitled “A pathetic husband.”

    #875025 Reply
    avatarSachiko Roxanne

    Wait – am I missing something? Did he ever say he wanted to change? Because I read the post twice and you made a long list of why he’s not a good person and you’re asking for how to make him empathetic but like…. does he want to? What are you getting out of this marriage aside from apparent mistreatment?

    Also my husband has jerk parents that he’s estranged from but he doesn’t do the things your husband does. My husband is also autistic so he doesn’t always comprehend people’s emotions and struggles with empathy sometimes but he’s never intentionally mean and always wants to learn. Your husband’s sob story isn’t enough of a reason for you to keep working on him when he clearly doesn’t care. 🙁

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