Q: My husband worries about EVERYTHING! He's mad about 70% of the time, half of that at me. He thinks that I don't care, though I love him very much. I know he loves me as much as I love him, but it's getting him to realize that. He thinks I will leave him. We're both in our 30s and we've been together for 10 years, married for 4. I worry about his health, that the stress is not good on his heart. When I suggest he go to the doctor, his attitude is that "they can't figure it out." When we argue, it's not just about that issue...he brings up EVERYTHING. I'm not planning on leaving. He's my life. He has never hit or thrown anything at me, just yells. Here's just one example: We had our dogs out 3 times during the day, 4:30 being the last time, and about 7 p.m. he stepped in dog pee, and said I didn't care enough to let the dogs out. When I told him they'd been out 3 times, he said I was lying, and then the argument went on from that to me not listening or caring, etc. One fight we have often is about sex. My sex drive isn't really that good, so we have sex maybe once or twice a month. Again, he thinks I don't care and am not interested. Help!-- Pat
Dr. Susan: I once suggested to my mother that she see a doctor for something, and she responded skeptically, "What's he going to tell me?" If we always knew what the doctor (or other expert) was going to say to us, there wouldn't be much reason ever to ask anything, would there? Sometimes you need an outsider to provide a little insight to get you going in a better direction. Your husband's not thinking very clearly about his and your problems. Anyone who's angry that much, yells all the time, and constantly mistrusts his loving wife, needs help. A doctor would be an okay place to start, or a couples therapist, or a course on couples communication (or read the chapters about talking in Loving in Flow, my own book). One of the rules of good arguing that your husband is breaking is that you don't bring up everything from the past, but instead stick to the issue at hand.
Your husband could be taking your lack of sexual interest as your effort to distance yourself from him. Some individuals judge the quality of love by the frequency of sex. Of course, you may be dealing with a vicious circle here, since it's not very appealing to be physically intimate with someone who's angry at you. If you can change one thing, you will have a better chance of changing the whole direction of your relationship. Talk about how the two of you talk, and how you mustn't let things wind up and up so that every little thing turns into a catastrophe. Repeat how much you love him, and say you feel unfairly mistrusted. Suggest he may be taking your low libido too personally. Offer to see a doctor yourself to see if your hormones and health are okay. And has it occurred to you that your sex life with him needn't be limited to only those few times (once a month in your 30s!) that your own sex drive is already at a high boil? Many happy couples agree that the best way to get the juices flowing is to start being intimate.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.