Category: Better Relationships | Modified: 12-04-2019
"My husband and I have been together for 5 years. We have a child together and I have 2 from a previous relationship. I will be 35 this year and he is 30. We were a perfect match and were head over heels in love.
We got married (we lived together for a year prior) and everything began to change. I got pregnant on our honeymoon which we both planned to do but everything just became different.
He became distant and we got into a lot of arguments. The love he used to show me stopped. I began to overcompensate, thinking it would help, but it didn't.
I began to ask a lot of questions which didn't help either. He became a different person.
He used to look at me like I was the most beautiful woman in the world then started looking at other women that way, while I stood next to him.
I finally blew up and was destroyed by what he told me. He told me that life and sex with me was boring, he told me he fantasized about what those women's sex lives were like, he told me if I lost weight I'd be more attractive and that he wanted me to dress differently and get all 'dolled up' as he put it.
I felt and still feel sick to my stomach about his confessions.
To me it feels like I'm no longer good enough and he wants me to become someone else. I feel like I need to perform in the bedroom and I no longer feel good about myself.
He has tried to take back what he has said but the damage has been done and I am positive he still feels that way. I just don't know what to do."
Perhaps, like Julie, you no longer feel loved. See, if you recognise any (or all) of the following signs that your partner may not find you attractive anymore.
... has changed their behaviour towards you.
... doesn't overtly show you they love you anymore.
... treats you with contempt.
... stonewalls you (completely ignores you deliberately).
... stays out longer and more often (at work, out with friends, etc).
... no longer compliments you on your looks.
... criticises the way you look - your hair, your clothes, your body.
If any of the above relationship problems seem familiar, it isn't a surprise if you feel lonely in your marriage or relationship and that you feel unloved, rejected and insecure.
I am so sorry to know how you've been so hurt by your husband's remarks, Julie. I can totally understand that this has undermined your self-esteem.
I've written an article on building self-esteem as, sadly, you're not the first person to write to me with this kind of problem.
I'm interested in what kind of questions you asked him and to what extent you were already feeling somewhat insecure. I wonder too if there really hadn't been any signs before you married that all was not well.
For now, my advice to you, Julie, is as follows:
1. Know that you're grieving (yes, I know that sounds strange!)
You've had a shock. I suspect his words felt like a slap in your face. :-(
As well as being terribly hurt, angry and dismayed, you're grieving. You're grieving for the loss of the relationship - as it was - and the man you thought you had married.
You now need a little time to come to terms with the new situation. Only then will you be better able to figure out what to do about it.
2. Check you're not in an abusive relationship
From what you tell me, your partner has been particularly blunt and unkind. I wonder if there have been any other worrying signs? Follow that link now and then come back here.
If you've recognised even some of those signs, it's important that you seek help. The very fact that he changed so suddenly after you got married makes me think he deliberately wanted to hurt you. I am so sorry, but that really is not a good sign.
3. Consider couple counselling
Consider getting some good couple counselling. Your husband may well be up for that, because clearly he is unhappy too, however badly he's expressed it.
4. Consider if you find your weight a problem
Is your weight a problem to yourself?
If you're unhappy about your weight and you know it's putting you at risk of health problems, then you can take the decision to do something about it. After all, you need your health and energy as a mum.
Remember to always be grateful for your body. It does sooo much for you - beautifully, automatically and mainly reliably! On top of that - you've had three children which very likely will have had an impact on the way you look too. Love your body and be proud of it - regardless what it actually looks like. And don't forget: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
5. Honest, but blunt and humiliating
Whilst your husband expressed himself very inconsiderately, he was honest. That offers the opportunity for you both to be open and honest about how you feel. It can open up the channels of communication to help you work together to overcome the problems. Being in a relationship and being a good partner is a skill that needs to be learned and practised (and there's never an end to the learning!). Some people have had better examples than others of healthy relationships whilst growing up.
However, you do need to stand up for yourself and guard your boundaries. Firmly challenge his disparaging remarks, therefore, with something like: "I feel terribly hurt and humiliated by your attitude and remarks. I absolutely expect to be treated with respect. And, I have every right to dress as I wish."
Ask yourselves what example you're setting for your children. What are they learning from you under these circumstances?
6. Ask him what he does find attractive
You both need to get into the habit of reminding each other what you do like, love and find attractive about each other.
7. Talk about sex
It's all too easy to avoid talking about precisely what you like and don't like, but you really do need to talk. If you don't, you're much more likely to be groping about in the dark (pardon the pun!). Talking about sex is really important. You can't read each other's mind.
To get some ideas on how to open up that conversation, read my article The sexless marriage.
8. Consider getting some personal counselling
You do really need to open up to someone about your concerns.
I recommend again that you connect with a professional therapist online. This is a paid, but - in comparison with face-to-face counselling - a cost-effective and much more flexible service.
Alternatively, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Do read my article on how to get the best relationship advice to help you identify the right kind of person to talk to.
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9. Take my comprehensive relationship test
The two of you need a very frank conversation about how important it is to treat each other with respect and kindness.
However, I suspect that there may well be difficulties in other aspects of your relationship too. If so, my advice would be to take my Comprehensive Relationship Test to help you figure out how you can save your marriage.
10. Further reading
You may also be interested in these articles:
24 Healthy Relationship Tips
How to 'Make' Your Partner Fall in Love with You Again
How to Fix Your Relationship or Marriage
11. Marriage shouldn't be a sacrifice
Sure, you have to compromise when you build a life together - there's of course the need to give and take. However, I want you to value yourself enough to consider honestly if you're possibly sacrificing yourself.
Are you giving much more than your fair share?
Only you can answer that question. You shouldn't have to lose yourself just to try and please your husband or partner.
Instead, according to Dr Arthur Aron, in a close couple relationship you include the other in the self, he or she becomes part of who you are . Notice the difference?
So, when all else fails, you may - at some point - have to consider whether it's really worth investing anymore energy into this marriage. I don't want you to do that right now though. Start with fighting for the survival of your marriage - there still appears much to fight for (unless you're in an abusive relationship).
I do hope this is of some help you, Julie and I wish you all the best for a happier future. At the very least, you absolutely deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.