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ben Offline OP
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Husband here, always treated my wife like a Queen (her words) all her friends jokingly tell her they would take me in a second if she died. So 2 Grown married sons and 3 grandkids later. I was fortunate to be able to purchase a 1800s renovated farmhouse out in the country near my kids.
I wanted to retire but my job said they need me and allowed remote work for as long as I am willing. I have always put my needs last and my wife was free to raise and the spoil the kids to the point that now they say they won't do the same because they know they had it too good. Anyway now it is all about the grandkids. I still show her love constantly.
Being alone a lot made me see that part of being giving was due to my lack of self esteem and one day my wife mentioned she would like some Christmas presents to open with everyone, Fyi she always gets huge gifts, This year I got her a new Explorer because her old cars couldn't fit the car seats and we are waiting on a Yorkshire puppy to be weaned.
So I got mad and she said what's wrong. I told her I do All the hugging kissing affectionate talk and you do NONE EVER didn't yell but was firm. As usual she turned it to her and said she doesn't feel attractive. Mind you she did photo shoots to promote advertising agencies.
She apologized and said she would try. So underwhelming effort and complaints when we did cuddle about how I touched her Not sexual just caresses.
Lost and lonely. I tried not iniating but it hurts and I see a marriage where it was always about her needs I feel like I'm done Sorry long but this is just a snippet

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Welcome to MB. Are you familiar with Dr. Harley’s basic concepts?

I’m not sure of your question. What is your question for us?


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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ben Offline OP
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Been reading hundreds of questions on MB and just looking for any kind of similar situation. Where a wife is totally happy with a spouse (her words) but has never initiated any physical display of affection. I have gone as far as telling her this and she acknowledges and apologized for this situation but doesn't act on it other than one hug in a few weeks. Rationalized, body pain blah blah blah but is fine going out shopping all day and sitting the grandkids.
I am starting to feel like I was just a path to her goals, kids ,big house, now grandkids. I thought once we got to be just a couple again I would get back some of the attention she so freely gives the kids. She always worked hard at everything but looking back the only exception was Our relationship.
Not sure how to make her understand I need the same affection I happily pour out on her. Without hurting her. From reading your suggested link I am clearly a giver, but from 32 years of marriage my wife will never see herself as a taker. So how can I change this dynamic? Sorry little jumbled

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FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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ben Offline OP
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I'm just looking for a spontaneous hug. My wife has a rare autoimmune disease that affects her genital area making sex extremely painful if not impossible (lichen sclerosis. I have been totally supportive and accepting of this and still let her know she is the love of my life and very desirable. So sex is something I don't even have as part of my equation

My wife Grew up used to making no effort to get attention, she looks like Kim Novak and I think it became part of her DNA. It made it easy for her to take without realizing she wasn't responding in kind to me. We both worked hard and when it became time to enjoy the fruits of our labor I saw the problem I had a hand in creating.
I see the Love Bank term used often and mine is empty and she can't seem to make any deposits except to the kids and grandkids Sorry, just looking for any way to improve things

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Originally Posted by ben
Being alone a lot made me see that part of being giving was due to my lack of self esteem and one day my wife mentioned she would like some Christmas presents to open with everyone, Fyi she always gets huge gifts, This year I got her a new Explorer because her old cars couldn't fit the car seats and we are waiting on a Yorkshire puppy to be weaned.
So I got mad and she said what's wrong. I told her I do All the hugging kissing affectionate talk and you do NONE EVER didn't yell but was firm. As usual she turned it to her and said she doesn't feel attractive. Mind you she did photo shoots to promote advertising agencies.
She apologized and said she would try. So underwhelming effort and complaints when we did cuddle about how I touched her Not sexual just caresses.
Lost and lonely. I tried not iniating but it hurts and I see a marriage where it was always about her needs I feel like I'm done Sorry long but this is just a snippet
Welcome to MB.
What you've describe here is your wife expressing a perfectly reasonable desire for something - gifts that she could open on Christmas day in the same way that other people open theirs - and from that request, you "got mad" and and brought up your resentments about something unrelated to the topic she had raised.

On the face of it, yours was not a logical or reasonable response. She wasn't forgetting about the new car or the puppy, but saying that she would like some perfume or jewellery, wrapped and placed under the tree. Instead of seeing her as being ungrateful for the new car, which is big and expensive compared to a bottle of scent, you could have looked upon her remark as a way of getting to understand her better, and doing something for her that would increase the love bank deposit you were making.

The issue of her failing to meet your needs is a legitimate complaint, but should have been kept separate from her asking for a certain kind of Christmas present.

Are you saying that she gives you no physical affection - that it's not the lack of penetrative sex that you mind, because you accept the physical limitations on that, but that she never (or rarely) kisses, touches or hugs you in any other way? And that she does not like it if you touch her? That this has made you feel unloved over the years, to the point where you now feel that you never had a proper marriage?

How long has your marriage been like that? How well have you tried to express your need for affection? How consistently have you done so, without waiting until things build up and you explode?

Exploding, by the way, is never the way to accomplish a rationale and meaningful conversation.

Has something happened in the marriage to turn her off you? Has either of you had an affair, physical or emotional? Has there been anything else, like addiction or physical abuse on either side?


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ben Offline OP
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First let me say I truly appreciate all the thoughtful responses you make on this forum. Yes, at face value the response appears unjustified, the Yorkie actually is her Christmas present but due to logistics with the breeder (can't time birth) it might not be under the tree.
Also Exploding was far from my reaction, we are so in sync with our emotions she Knew just from my demeanor I was bugged I expressed calmly but firmly how I always put her above all else and I feel like the Christmas comment felt like I was stabbed in the heart she actually agreed with how i could feel hurt and her apology came with" I know I will try"
She knows I lavish her with praise and affection and always have for 33 years. I hug and kiss her at every opportunity and it is easy because I truly am crazy about her. But I hit 65 this year and maybe I need some contact from her to feel desired. I don't want to hurt her and want some ideas how to get some reciprocal attention.
We have weathered miscarriages, premature birth the financial disasters of huge medical bills and this is NOT the end of the world but I miss affection. Thank you again for replying

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Could you try and answer the questions you missed?


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ben Offline OP
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Oops
Yes in my recollection for years she never initiates affection (hug kiss) she has held my hand walking
No she appreciates being hugged and kissed (says thank you) nothing romantic unless I said ILY then she ILY too
I do believe her greatest goal in marriage was to Become a mother ASAP after marriage at age 30 and her miscarriage heightened that urgency
Then the children were her life now it has shifted to the grandkids
I have always supported her goals tutored her through college at age 40 to create a new career
The Christmas gift comment was my first push back. I think because I weaned myself off off antidepressants and have been working on my self esteem lately. It gave me some impetus to feel I deserved some recognition
Hope this gives some clarity

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Have you expressed your need for affection on a consistent basis, bringing it up every few days or even every day, over the years? Have you done this outside of when you feel "mad" or provoked or upset by something she has or hasn't said?

What reason does she give for not changing her behaviour, after you have expressed your needs without being demanding or disrespectful?


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ben Offline OP
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No, until recently I felt it was just the status quo and like I said I have begun to find some self worth. Funny I owned a successful business and sold it to be a good father (too many Hours working) Then rose to a corporate position where I paid for my kids college and my wife's. But never felt successful
But had low self esteem from childhood Mom was selfish and told me I Wasn't as good looking as others and I had a birth defect where my fingers were deformed so ridicule was normal. I was in love with a girl who broke up with me because her mom didn't want deformed grandkids.
Anyway I am just waking up to the feeling I was a great husband and dad at least that is what I'm told, little snarky at times but I learned that from having to be tough.
And now I am looking to feel appreciated and a little of what I had with my wife before the kids. I think it may just take time but I came here to maybe get some hints

She said she doesn't feel desirable, but that can't be from a lack of expression from me. As I said above she was a lookalike for Kim Novak (I married up LOL) and even when the baby Weight came on and came off really slow I told she was the most beautiful woman in the world I think being 64 and her inability to respond physically could be part of it, but I can't help feeling she is just turning it back to her needs which she has always taken care of with my support

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Dr Harley writes about his discovery that women and men have largely different, gender-specific emotional needs, and the fact that they do not realise that their spouse has different needs from them - they are entirely opposite in many cases.

This is a challenge, but meeting it makes a marriage successful and fulfilling.

It is each spouse's job to meet the emotional needs of the other spouse, even if doing so is very foreign in nature and hard to do. Each spouse needs to do this if they want to deposit love bank units in the bank held by the other spouse. They also need to avoid love busters, but I won't focus on those since you do not seem to have complained that either of you turns the other off. (But you do need to become fully understanding of the concept.)

Once we understand the problem in your marriage as being one of unmet emotional needs, the solution is simple, although it might not be easy to implement.

Your wife needs to understand that affectionate touch, and affectionate words, are among your most important emotional needs, and she is not meeting them.

You also need to understand that when your wife expresses desires such as the wish for a present that she can unwrap on Christmas Day, she is giving you the gift of expressing one of her needs. If you fulfil this need in a thoughtful way, and do so regularly, this will have a positive effect on your marriage.

But back to your wife, since you seem to be much more frustrated with her than she is with you: how can you teach her how important your emotional needs are?

Can you talk to her about the concepts?

Can you show her the articles that you have read on this site? Further down the line, do you think she would agree to talk to Dr Harley about the problems?

Can you talk to her without using demands, disrespect or anger? Can you make your conversations about the topic pleasant and non-threatening? Can you stop yourself from being upset and "mad"? If you get mad when you discuss this, you will fail and get the direct opposite result from the one you are seeking.


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ben Offline OP
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Yes, like I said the Christmas present was just a trigger for other feelings I was just beginning to develop. I actually already shopped for things for her new passion
( don't wince ) cooking items pots pans gizmos. I was always the main cook because I was home first but she does most now.
I have told her that I am finding that I am happier with myself and half joking warned her I hope you still like me because I need open up about things. For example she said something that I pushed back on and she smiled and said "I liked that" I said I'm glad.
I can honestly say we both love each other unconditionally but I also know she has difficulty accepting she is wrong about emotional issues. She has never heard anything from people besides compliments ...you are so beautiful you are so kind you are so sweet. All true but when she gets a little reality check she gets defensive. So I know suggesting corrective action may make things a little uncomfortable.
I sort of knew the path I need to take but as you have shown many others through your thoughtful exchanges, sometimes things need to get uncomfortable before they can improve UGH couldn't we just take a pill or something!
I shall return Thank you for giving a more objective look at my situation

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Originally Posted by ben
...but I also know she has difficulty accepting she is wrong about emotional issues. She has never heard anything from people besides compliments ...you are so beautiful you are so kind you are so sweet. All true but when she gets a little reality check she gets defensive. So I know suggesting corrective action may make things a little uncomfortable.
You need to avoid this - I'm sorry to say - condescending tone, and you need to make sure you never say anything to your wife that sounds like this.

This analysis of your wife is disrespectful, falling under Dr Harley's concept of disrespectful judgements. She can't be "wrong" about emotional issues. She has feelings, as do we all. And you are not the one to decide what is a "reality check". By using that term you are describing someone who thinks she's perfect because she's been told all her life she is perfect, and gets a great shock when she is told that she is not - as if she is a child who lives in a fantasy world. That's actually rather insulting to her.

Any action you suggest is not "corrective". You should not be thinking in those terms. It's simply a matter of your stating how much you need affectionate words and actions, and asking her to supply those. When she does as you ask, tell or show her how much you like it. When she doesn't do it, ask again, and keep the issue on the front burner until she understands how important it is to you. It's not about her deficiencies - she would not be getting a "reality check" about herself if you ask to have your needs met. It's about your having unmet needs. That's the only approach you need to take.

Dr Harley himself is much better at explaining his concepts than is any poster on his board. I urge you to write to him and his wife care of their daily radio show. Tell them what you've told us and ask how the problem can be rectified. They will answer your question privately by email, or on the radio show if you give them permission. They'll send you a free book if you let them discuss the email on the radio. I suggest you ask for either His Needs Her Needs, or Love Busters.

A good way to learn about the concepts and how they are all interrelated is for you to listen to the daily radio show. Have you ever heard it?


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Email your questions to Joyce Harley at mbradio@marriagebuilders.com. When your email question is chosen to be answered on the radio show, you will be notified by email directing you to listen to the broadcast. If you would like to consider being a caller, include your telephone number. You will receive a call to explain the procedure.


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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ben Offline OP
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Thank you, I will move forward with gaining more insight to improve our intimacy. I will push back on being in any way disrespectful of my wife's feelings. I have put her feelings and happiness over my own at ever opportunity and I think that is Part of what why I blame myself for some of my current situation. Funny you used the term fantasy world, her girlfriend s actually tell her they are jealous of her fantasy marriage. I will definitely try to learn more about how my shortcomings have contributed to our situation.
I read this a few times and sound rather self righteous, but I have spent so long feeling like my needs aren't important, that I will no longer minimize how much I put in to my marriage and that effort has value . I think I need to keep working on myself, I truly love my wife.

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Have you the article read about the Giver and the Taker?
https://www.marriagebuilders.com/the-giver-and-taker.htm

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Thanks, I saw reference to that and I will read it. I do want to get as broad a perspective as possible.


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