Q: I'm in my late 20s and I've been married to my husband for a little more than a year, but I constantly find myself unhappy. Every time I try to talk about my issues, my husband says that he is remarkably happy and that I'm just "over-complicating things" in my own head.
Let me explain what's going on. Ever since the beginning of our marriage, I've felt that I can't be emotionally intimate with my husband. He doesn't readily express his emotions about anything, really. No aspirations. No hopes, no dreams. Whenever I talk about having children someday, he just cuts me off by saying, "We're not ready yet." And whenever I talk about MY hopes and MY desires for our future, he believes I'm complaining about how bad my current life is and gets angry at me.
Whenever I try to have an emotional connection with him -- usually over dinner -- he says that I'm "trying too hard to have a serious conversation" and will change the subject.
He's a great guy aside from this. He's amiable, gregarious, funny -- but he can't ever talk about any serious emotional issues and seems to belittle mine. I feel like I have a college roommate rather than a husband!
I'm to the point that I've started to consider leaving. Do you have any ideas on how to foster effective communication between us before I throw in the towel? Is this a common problem in marriages? Or am I just "overcomplicating the situation" in my head?
Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!
– Emotionally Wrecked, Virginia
A: I'm wondering what he was like before you got married, EW. Was he a better conversationalist back then? Did he talk about his hopes and dreams? Did you discuss kids?
My guess is that it wasn't easy for your husband to get his head around the idea of marriage and that he wants some time to settle into this new life before having to contemplate the next big step. He shouldn't be shooting you down, of course, but his attitude probably comes from a place of fear.
My advice is to give him examples of the nice, emotionally-intimate conversations you had before you got married so he really understands what you're missing. As in, "Remember that night we stayed up in bed dreaming about what our wedding would look like and where we would live? I loved that night and it made me excited about our future. That's the kind of conversation I need every once in a while." If you can point out specific discussions that made you both happy, he might be reminded that these talks can be fun, and that they're not always about obligations and taking the next scary step.
If he continues to shut you down, you can suggest therapy. And if he shuts that down too, yes, you're approaching throwing-in-the-towel territory. But let's not think about that yet. Start by giving him examples of good talks. Be clear about why you're unhappy. And please, don't bring this up over dinner. He obviously needs dinner for jokes and relaxation. Move the conversation later in the evening, or on a weekend morning after a nice sleep.
Readers? Why is he shooting her down? What's the other side of this story? Is it possible that she is trying to have too many heavy conversations? How can she get him to talk about the future if he belittles her need for discussion? Can this be fixed? Discuss.
Recent blog posts
Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.